W.B. Jon Sage
As Freemasons, we always talk about and revere the notion of Brotherhood, and more specifically how “wherever you go, if you find a Mason, you have a Brother… a friend”. This is a true statement, and I don’t argue it. However, I wonder if any of us ever stop to consider just how strong that statement and the bond between Masons really is? Consider this particular point of view. Just as you sit in whatever country and say that you have Brethren around the world; there are also Brethren around the world, sitting in their home countries… saying that they also have Brethren around the world. This means that, inadvertently, we are constantly in each other’s thoughts, whether we actually KNOW one another or not!
This, Brethren, is what makes the universal Brotherhood of Freemasonry possible. In fact, it is THE ONLY thing that makes it possible. Allow me to explain.
IF we knew who each and every one of our Brethren were, then we would by proxy, come to accept them on some level. This would involve not only their faults; but also their nationality, skin color, religion, language… all of this- as is proposed in the universality concept of Freemasonry, is automatically accepted. For that matter, and for all practical purposes, it is not even supposed to be questioned! And yet, in our personal lives, among the people that we do know, whether or not they are Brethren, how many times do we accept or reject others based on the aforementioned criteria?
I’m afraid that the answer to that question will be troubling to most, and on occasion, I may be as guilty as the rest. By our human nature, we grow up and become, at least partially, bigoted and prejudiced against those who are not immediately like us. Now, this is not to imply that we treat these people differently, or that we hate them because of our perceived differences. But, I think it is an honest assessment to say that, at the very least, we might VIEW them as “different” than ourselves. If this be the case, how can we so readily declare that ALL Masons across the face of the earth are our Brethren!!!
Do you doubt me?
Look at the man in the mirror tomorrow morning… Yes, your face will look very familiar,
perhaps too familiar. Try to get past the physical features, past the color of your skin, past your all too comfortable surroundings. Look deep into the mirror and through the eyes, into your soul. This is where we are all the same and where we must all learn to feel comfortable, accepting who and what we are. Only then will the defects in our human personalities melt away, allowing us to truly express universal Brotherhood as the endearing term should be displayed.
This new being in the mirror, the creature before us that does not understand facial or even spoken recognition, is where the heart of the Mason must reside. It is not in the invested Jewels or Titles bestowed during Ritual or through a progression in the Officer Line. This heart of the Mason is inviolable and without defect. I fear that the only problem with the deep, hidden and often lost Mason’s heart is exactly that- we lose sight of it far too often; or, even worse, we never really find it at all!
When this happens, the Fraternity becomes a megaphone preaching world unity and Brotherly Love. But, just beneath the surface, exists the ugly and miss-placed attitude of aggression and distrust; the air of superiority; the stench of self-righteousness. If allowed to continue, all of this slowly creeps towards the surface until the very Fraternity itself becomes fractured and broken beyond repair.
For petty differences of OPINION- not moral or natural law, but OPINION, we refuse to “recognize” one another; we are said to not be in “Amity” with each other. In short- we become a group fighting amongst the other, a conglomerate of dis-enchanted fellows, all marching under the banner of “The Universal Brotherhood of Freemasonry”… bound by the “Tie That Binds”….
I have attached a video here, as part of the R.W. Bro. Charles A. Sankey “Sankey Lecture Series in Masonic Studies”, presented by one of the foremost Masonic and Fraternal Scholars of the present day, Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Associate Professor of History at The University of Florida at Gainesville. In her presentation, and she has given many, Dr. Harland-Jacobs attempts to connect the terms “Globalization and Freemasonry”. In theory, the two mesh nicely, and this is by design, extending back into the days of colonial rule by the British Empire.
In many ways, we may be thankful for British Rule, and that huge sphere of influence. If it were not for this, it may be doubtful that we would have Freemasonry in India, the Middle East, and Africa! However, it must also be remembered that those in India “recognized” British Freemasons before the British permitted recognition or inter-visitation with Indian Lodges. On the American continent, there were similar issues in that the British Military Lodge(s) founded what we know of today as Prince Hall Masonry, but that only occurred because the American colonists refused to “recognize” black Masonry. It would not be until the latter part of the 20th century that a great many American Grand Lodges “recognized” Prince Hall Grand Lodges, simply because of the color of their skin. Sadly, this is still commonplace in far too many places. However, there is progress being made, albeit too slowly by many measures.
Let us all, one by one and once and for all, cast off these conspicuous defects in and amongst the Brethren. As a Master Mason, it is your DUTY and within your OBLIGATION to gently remind a Brother of his faults and beg attempt towards reconciliation.
RECONCILIATION… that is what is needed more in today’s Freemasonic Institution. Only then,when we have reconciled with our imperfect selves and those imperfect and different souls who surround us, will we truly achieve the true meaning of the now token phrase “An Indissoluble Chain of Affection” and the oft used “Universal Brotherhood”. It is time to stop paying lip-service to these hefty terminologies and to truly begin living them out in our day to day walk as Men and as Masons! None are exempt for we ALL could use self-improvement in these and other areas.
Then, and only then will our gentle Craft form that chain which knows no end, and the Tie which truly binds us all, everyone in every time and place, together as Masons.