Friday, August 21, 2015

Bridges: If You Build Them, They Will Follow!

We have heard it said again and again; there is a crisis in modern Freemasonry. It may be argued that there are many, and it also may be argued that many identify the crisis in contemporary Masonry differently. It just may be possible to find a common focus.

That focus is Freemasonry's leadership. Mind you, although I do believe that if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem, and the Leadership of Freemasonry too often is not part of the solution, the purpose here is not to criticize Masonic leadership. I believe, and my experience with masons who have leadership roles is that they often represent the best that you can find within the craft.

That being said, I have recently followed a discussion online, typical unfortunately of many I have witnessed over the years, of a very sincere brother who voiced opinions which are contrary in every detail with what Masonry is about, and yet, I experienced no surprise in hearing his opinions. A lot of regret, but no surprise. The opinions that far too many rank and file masons, all of them no doubt sincere and hard working masons regularly express are narrow minded, bigoted, dogmatic, and intolerant.

I am continually amazed that an organization dedicated to improving the individual and which espouses the universality of it's traditions, becomes intellectually mired in the minutia of dogma and sectarian differences. We can broadcast our concern for all humanity, but too often are incapable of demonstrating any humanity when dealing with other masons who possess what amounts in reality, in the reality that any rational human being would concur, to very minor differences in tradition.

We have managed to become blind to the forest by looking solely at our own tree.

What does any of this have to do with Masonic leadership? Well, who sets the example? Who leads? Who, to put it in blunt and very unmasonic terms, will these dogmatic brothers listen to? The leadership of their Grand Lodge of course.

Clearly, such remarks will be lost on the leaders of those Grand Lodges or Obediences which are led by people who have the same lack of understanding that I refer to. We all know some such jurisdictions, and I will not be so crude as to mention any geographical locations.  A godson of mine, who has been a member of one such jurisdiction, and whom I encouraged to take the route of "mainstream" Masonry because of his geographical constraints, has bemoaned the state of things in his own fine state. However, there are leaders in Grand Lodges in North America whom I am certain are more enlightened than their rank and file. Hopefully, they are not alone on the Grand Lodge level.

Those leaders, if they are alone in their own jurisdictions, have the responsibility to reach out to like minded masons across the country who hold similar positions, and do something to address the issue.

If they feel no pressure to do so for the obligations of Universal brotherhood or Masonic principles, they should at least consider the possibility that when those who are not Masons, "cowans" as the popular archaicism puts it, see such discourse, it reflects to them a sectarian organization that has ceased to understand its own teachings.

If the leadership does not realize that such bad habits exist among their rank and file, they aren't doing their jobs; if they do not recognize either how it hurts the craft or how it reflects a lack of internalization of fundamental Masonic principles, they do not deserve their positions. High titles should come with responsibility.

The time to address such serious problems within the craft is long overdue. There are many examples of fundamentalist religious bigotry in the world today, and we can see what it leads to. Can any Freemason committed to self improvement tolerate the same within their own lodge or jurisdiction? Well, that is not for me to say. Although actions speak louder than words, I have spoken.

I only hope someone is listening.

Eoghan Ballard ஃ

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