Shortly after I wrote the Masonic Manifesto last September, I happened to attend a local Masonic meeting. Afterwards, a group of Brothers stopped by a local watering hole to have a drink and shoot the breeze. One of the Brothers there caught me off guard when he asked me, “Why do you hate the Fraternity so much?”
Frankly, I was startled by the question and asked him why he thought this was so. He contended that I was overtly trying to change the fraternity when there really wasn’t anything wrong with it. He even went so far as to suggest that I should start my own fraternity and leave Freemasonry alone. Please keep in mind this was not a malicious attack as the Brother and I have known each other for a long time and have worked together on many projects. However, my various Masonic activities have not gone unnoticed and is starting to be perceived as a threat.
Let me now change gears for a moment and describe another Masonic meeting I recently attended where various Brothers were asked to describe their views of Freemasonry.
Most talked about the virtues of the Brotherhood, where a man’s word is his bond, that we can talk “on the level,” and that a support network of Brothers is very comforting. When my turn came, I described Freemasonry as “further light.” Yes, I enjoy the Brotherhood as much as the others did, but I see Freemasonry as a beautiful concept that, if practiced properly, would lead to world peace and prosperity (I guess it is the idealist in me that causes me to think this way). Nonetheless, I see the fraternity in terms of where it should be and believe as Masons we have a duty to evolve and constantly seek perfection.
Now, tying the two stories together, do I hate Freemasonry? Absolutely not. Would I be so active in it if I didn’t believe in its concepts? I enjoy our degrees and am proud of our Masonic heritage, as I believe all Masons should be. However, Freemasonry is a society that is not without its faults. It is far from perfect and we should always aspire to improve it. I am not one to sit back and simply grumble about something from the sidelines. Instead, I have chosen to take a proactive role and have introduced ideas and legislation to help improve it. This does not sit well with the powers that be (the “old-guard”) and I am eyed suspiciously as to my motives. Some demand total obedience and suggest I should be in lockstep with the current policies and keep my mouth shut. I’m sorry, but I live in a free country where the individual is encouraged to think and innovate.
I even had some Brothers advise me to be a little more “politically correct,” otherwise I would never be appointed District Deputy Grand Master for our area. I countered, “What’s more important, Freemasonry or whether I get an appointed position?” In other words, they are suggesting I do nothing, get advanced and allow the fraternity to stagnate. This is troubling to me. I don’t want to see the fraternity castrated due to apathy.
In the various professional and nonprofit groups I am involved with there seems to be an escalation in the viciousness of our discourse. Instead of discussing problems rationally, we must immediately choose sides and defend it to the bitter end. I am also seeing this viciousness permeate Freemasonry where I never dreamt it would occur. I always believed when a Brother took the floor, he was allowed to speak his mind, right or wrong, without fear of retribution. Following this, an opposing dialogue can be conducted by other Brothers and the Craft could formulate its decisions accordingly. But I’m afraid this is no longer happening as the powers in authority tend to manipulate opinion and suppress opposing views. Consequently, harmony in the Lodge is often sacrificed.
Bottom-line, in order for Freemasonry to flourish and aspire towards “further light” the Craft must be allowed to discuss and debate Masonic issues on the level and without fear of persecution. No subject should be considered taboo. A healthy dialog is vital to the perpetuation and continued improvement of Freemasonry. Such discourse must be done with candor, honesty, and respect for the rights of all participants. If we fail to do so, we are sticking are heads in the sands and our light will undoubtedly fade away. This would be a tragedy.
Keep the Faith.
by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
Originally published on FmI in 2007
A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry
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