Sunday, July 25, 2021

Kelly Ranasinghe: On Masonic Diversity

As someone who participates in many Masonic groups online and on Facebook, I have on occasion asked myself why. The answer is that on occasion one meets an outstanding Brother whose insight renews both optimism and enthusiasm. One such Brother is Kelly Ranasinghe, of El Centro, California. He wrote a post that deserves to be shared and taken to heart. In fact, although specific to Freemasonry, the advice he offers is applicable to all areas of human interaction. Thank you, Brother Ranasinghe.

Kelly Ranasinghe is a Mason from California and past master of Imperial Valley Lodge 390. He currently serves as the Senior Warden of that Lodge. He was raised in San Diego Lodge 35 in 2010.

"Hey brothers, we need to talk about some racism and microaggressions against Masons of color and Masons who are not from western countries. We are all brothers here, but we may want to keep in mind:

1) Ritual is NOT the same everywhere and neither are obligations, degrees, ceremonies, and literally every other aspect of Masonry. Your Masonic experience is not indicative of everyone's experience, and the American Masonic experience is not universal. For example here in the Southwest, we sometimes do our rituals outside. Just across the border, our sister lodge in Mexicali has entirely different ritual more akin to a Commandery or appendant order. A few miles down the road in Yuma, people wear their aprons differently. All that happens within a few miles of us, so imagine what it is like when the distance is far greater.

2) English is not the lingua franca (pun intended) of Masonry or the world. In fact, it's tied with Mandarin for the most populous language with Hindi and Spanish coming in second. Remember that Brothers may be using English as a second language and be respectful. The way you speak and communicate in your jurisdiction may be socially and culturally different from other jurisdictions.

3) Telling people to "remember their obligation" when the basis of their offense is entirely subjective is called "gatekeeping" but not in the Masonic sense. Gatekeeping is bad. It is when you limit who can and cannot be part of a community or identity based on subjective and arbitrary rules, which often are racist, sexist, elitist, ableist, colorist or other similarly bad subjective judgment calls. Gatekeeping exists in every community, but should not exist in Masonry among people who are Masons. Said another way, it's a way of saying "you don't belong here."

4) Finally, remember that the way you act cordially and friendly is ENTIRELY different based on where you are, your age, your region, your job, and a hundred other dimensions of your identity and subcultures. A Mason in Virginia or Massachusetts is going to speak and communicate differently than me, who lives in the rural border community of South-eastern California. That's the beauty of Masonry, we pull together people who are from entirely different areas for common purposes.

So please, remember we are all walking a very long road to the East, and we ALL can use help to carry the load.

Peace brothers "

1 comment:

Topcliffe said...

Very well said, Brother, thank you.