The Masonic values of The New England Patriots

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Hello Readers,

Two days ago, the New England Patriots scored their 4th Super Bowl title, the most in the salary cap era. Tom Brady is now in the discussion for being the greatest QB of all time, and Bill Belichick is in the discussion for being the greatest coach of all time. Whether you like them or hate them or even think they are running vast conspiracies of cheating to beat other teams, there is little to argue that that they are currently best run franchise in professional sports.

This isn’t a fluke or something that is happening by chance either. For the entire Patriots organization, there have philosophies, ideologies and ways of doing things that have caused them to stay at the top for so long. And as a Mason, there are things that they do that we can all learn from and hopefully emulate.

1. Do Your Job.

It’s common in society today for people to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It’s also common for people to half-ass their work, to mail it in or to not follow directions. For the Patriots, this motto of Do Your Job means that you do exactly what is commanded of you in practice to the letter. You have a job to do, the team is relying on you. Go out and do it.

As Masons this message is something that we’re familiar with. It brings us back to our Operative Masonic roots, where Masons worked together in teams to create many of the iconic structures that we see around the world today. When working together to build a great structure, each Mason had a job to do. Whether it was perfecting stones, artistically designing edifices, spreading cement, measuring balance, each Mason had one job and the entire lodge relied on them to do it. Yet how the Patriots approach the team aspect is actually very individualistic. Do Your Job. That is a message to each person that their focus is singular and internal. It’s about what that individual has to do. This is entirely Masonic. When we come to Masonry, we come because we are working on subduing out passions, learning and improving ourselves in Masonry. It’s about our individual work. It’s about you and how you perfect your own stone.

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Yet Do Your Job is also understood within the team philosophy. If each player does their job, the whole team works as a cohesive unit and is able to do incredible things. Masonry is the same way. Even though the work is individual, we are all together in a unified lodge. While we have each individually come to search for light, it is understood that it is found through other brothers as well.

If each player does their job then the team will succeed wildly and be as great as the Patriots are. And if each individual Mason does their job, then the lodge as a whole succeeds wildly. On the other hand as we saw in the Super Bowl, Tharold Simon struggled and it allowed the Patriots to pick on him and move the ball against one of the better defenses of all time. All it takes is one bad player for the entire team to collapse. The lodge is the same way. All it takes is one bad member for the lodge to become weakened and to collapse. Simon didn’t do his job, either through bad coaching or lack of working himself. A Mason show doesn’t do their job to make themselves perfect runs the risk of making the lodge weak and having the whole fall apart.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the New En

2. A Championship Leader

The Patriots win because they have a great coach in Bill Belichick who knows how to run the show. To say that Belichick is tireless in his commitment to winning is an understatement. He puts all of his energy and effort into breaking down film, working with his players and being involved with almost every aspect of the organization. Every player and coach looks to him and follows his lead. He is admired because of his relentless external commitment to results and being able to achieving those results.

In Masonry we want the Worshipful Master to be the same. We want someone who is tireless in their commitment to making a great lodge. Every Mason is part of that lodge and a Worshipful Master knows how to rule over his Brothers with a relentless commitment to results and to being able to achieve those results. Now each lodge and each individual Mason has their own set of goals, so what your results are definitely depends on the place and brother. Yet finding what each lodge and brother needs requires research. And Bill Belichick spends hours and hours watching game film to find out how to best change and tailor his approach to each individual team and opponent. A great Worshipful Master will spends his time with his brothers to find out what each of them needs and what best works for the lodge.

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Bill Belichick is the undisputed leader of The Patriots team. He is the one who draws up the game plans and put them into action. He teachers the players the best way to execute it, and then guides them as they put the plan into action. Masonry again is the same way. Masons need a leader who lays out a plan and brings everyone together to make that plan work. This springs from our Operative History where a Chief Architect put together the blueprint for the structure and then directed his Masons on how to build it. Behind every great building was a legendary Grand Master who makes sure each Mason did their job and worked as a cohesive unit. They looked to God to draw up the blueprint, they set it into actions, they handled personalities and made sure each Mason was put in the best possible place to succeed.

In addition a great leader also listens to the people that work for him. You will often see Belichick roam the sidelines and talk to his other players and coaches asking them how things are going. What are they seeing? What is happening? How is the game plan working. Belichick has his blueprint but he also makes sure to listen to the players to figure out ways to improve on that blueprint. A great Worshipful Master makes sure to always consult with his fellow Masons to make sure things are being done right and to ask how things can be done better.

Also Bill Belichick is very flexible. He has his plans that he takes into the game but if the plan isn’t working his team he’ll quickly go to a new plan of attack. The Patriots are legendary for changing things up on the fly to find different ways to challenge an opponent. In Masonry we find the tools that are given to us are open for our own interpretation. And like any Mason, sometimes the first approach to something isn’t actually the right one and you find yourself seeing things differently later. For Worshipful Masters, that means the plans you put into place aren’t dogma. They need to be open to change. Your leadership styles, your plans for the year and even ways you help to improve brothers has to be flexible. You have to know that if something isn’t working you need to have a plan B, C and D.

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3. The Patriots embody our Masonic tools.

Think of the Square and Compass. Is there a team out there that better follows them both? No! The Patriots always square their actions. No player gets special treatment. In Training Camp the player that works out the hardest gets the best parking spots. Tom Brady was normally this guy until he slowed down a bit for a few years and didn’t train as hard. He lost his preferential parking spots. Another example, Jonas Gray ran for 200 yards again the Colts in the regular season. A few days later he was late for practice. He was sent to the bench and he barely played since. Bill Belichick treats his players the same no matter who they are or what they do. This weeds out the primadonna players while also creating the fairest system for talent to rise. It also brings players together knowing that they are all being treated as equals. If every stone is squared the same, they are much more likely to fit together.

As for The Compass, it calls for us to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind. The Patriots are perfect examples of this. Each player has something they want. It could be the big contract. Or more playing time. Or more masses. Or more media exposure. Whatever. But the Patriots players deep their desires in check. They sacrifice for the team. If they each went after what they wanted they would have turned into the Oakland Raiders a long time ago. They can still have desires and many of them do, but by keeping things in check it allows for everyone to fit in with each other and become a cohesive unit.

They are also excellent at keeping their passions within due bounds. Watch them at the podium when speaking to the media. They constantly talk about the respect they have for other teams and players. When asked about winning they say they want it but they will say that it’s a lot of hard work and mental focus. Do these players want to win? Of course. These are some of the most competitive players in the world. But they again keep their passions in control. Engaging in a chest puffing “who is better” war or words with another team will only lead to distractions and for the other team to get bulletin board material. By keeping their passion to a controlled burn, it allows them to stay focused and disciplined in practice all the way through the game. And the Patriots are extremely passionate during the game, throwing every ounce of energy out onto the field. But they also keep their passions within due bounds on the field by never letting the other team’s trash talk get to them. They also make sure to not get to emotional and let the emotion of the moment cloud their heads. They each have a job to do and too much emotion can cloud their judgement. When Russell Wilson was driving for the score, Malcolm Butler had just let up a miracle catch to Jermaine Kearse. He could have let his negative emotions get to him. He could have let the momentum swing of the Seahawks driving to bring him out of his focus. But he kept his passions within due bounds, stayed focused, did his job and intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass two plays later. And the rest is history.

The Patriots are currently the greatest run in professional sports. And as we learn from the Trowel, the only contention that should exist among us is who can best work and agree. The Patriots are the best. They are the masters and as we continue on our journey of self-improvement, consider their work and how their methods could assist you.

Livingstone

Response to Ryan’s Thoughts: RE: Charlie Hebdo Entry

Hello Readers,

So I’m breaking my blog response cherry today. This blog is finally getting big enough (or insane enough. Depends on your view) where other Masons are weighing into my blog entries.

Just yesterday, Ryan Mercer at Ryan’s Thoughts, responded to my blog entry. He had a lot of disagreements. I’m going to read his blog in real time and write my thoughts in real time. So here goes.

——-

I appreciate your thoughts but I disagree on some points.

“because they were exercising their free speech”

There is the right to having free speech and being able to say what you want. I’m all for that. However there is also being repeatedly disrespectful to another’s views/beliefs/religion. This is no longer free speech, this is being uncivil and absolutely disrespectful to others. While I don’t think they should have died/deserved to die, I do think they were guilty of not exercising civility. Just because you can say something, doesn’t mean you should.

——-

At first glance, there is a lot to agree with here. Civility is the hallmark of a well run and upstanding society. But approaching this Masonically, there are some other things to consider.

We as Masons are taught to square our actions. For me interpreting squaring my actions means I strive to treat everyone the same. Idealistic, I know, but I at least try to at least treat everything within a certain station of life the same.

This station right here is in regards to criticism of religion. Considering this is a western world centric blog I’ll try to focus on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Christians and sects of Christianity are often satired in the Western world. Take a look at South Park alone. Look at the various politics cartoon of Christian characters doing and saying dumb things. Here’s a few to provide context.

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I understand where many of these political cartoons come from. For the record many Christians do and say some really off the mark things. Insane things even.

The biggest issue I have is how Ryan would classify disrespect. Showing images of Islam is considered disrespectful to many Muslims. Showing Israel in a bad light is considered disrespectful to many Jews/Judaism.  Because of the fluid and diverse range of views within each group it’s impossible to exercise free speech without disrespecting someone. So for me, I take the “gloves off approach” where all forms of satire are welcome. When a NY Art Exhibit displayed a Jesus made entirely of shit (Article), my first instinct was to be offended. My second instinct was to understand that this person was exercising free speech. And the best way to “push back” was to have an open and honest dialogue about this. Or to “vote with our attendance” and just not validate things like this. I still probably would have shown up anyways to see what we really going on.

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“constantly threatened with death for doing something as simple as writing funny cartoons”

One man’s funny is quite offensive to others. You don’t attack other’s beliefs, especially religion. You respect the rights of others to believe what they want. You don’t continually mock one’s religion/God/prophet in satirical illustrations that some even offend people NOT of the religion being mocked. They weren’t being funny, they were being mocking, nay, derisive and full of hatred in their magazine.

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I disagree. You ABSOLUTELY question other people’s religious beliefs. If people are twisting their own religious doctrine to fit an agenda, I would argue with them the same way I would a scientist who tries to twist his research to fit an agenda. Question everything is my motto.

Ryan calls them an attack, and I can see why he feels that way. But again, it’s so hard to find the line between questioning vs. attacking that I err on the side of considering everything questioning. This also makes other people feel less likely that you are attacking them and helps the conversations stay civil.

Also in regard to people not finding those comics funny, there were people who absolutely found those comics to be funny. They would have been out of business if they didn’t. And again regarding it being disrespectful, see my thoughts in the previous section.

——-

“We as Masons are taught through our ritual and through our culture that we have a bond to the fraternity and each other”

We are also instructed that we are all on the level and that we shouldn’t judge others for their beliefs. We’ve also learned as Masons that it’s not fun to be persecuted… I mean the wiki entry Suppression of Freemasonry is a good starting point. Let me ask you this Brother, how would you feel if someone took something sacred to you, let’s say Freemasonry, and began making hate-filled ‘satirical’ cartoons about Freemasonry. You’d be mad. Now what if you were devoutly religious and someone started taking your God/prophet/important religious figure and started making cartoons about them showing them doing idiotic thing, carrying out acts of a sexual or romantic nature with a person or animal that your religion prohibits etc? You’d be mad.

Pardon my language, but what really chaps my ass, is the fact that there WERE Brothers working at this publication. We shouldn’t be making fun of the beliefs of others, whether we find it comical or not (because they probably won’t). These satirical comics that Charlie Hebdo were producing were funny to some but grossly offensive to others. That’s just unacceptable.

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We shouldn’t judge other people for their beliefs? Where in the ritual is that? Also many many MANY Masons in history have questioned various religious and political beliefs. That is one of my favorite parts of the fraternity.

If someone made comics attacking Freemasonry, I would be THRILLED to offer a rebuttal. Them getting me mad would mean my passions are not in due bounds. I would stay calm and offer reasons to why the comic or such was misguided.

Also in regard to attacking my religion, I would be mad at first but my VSL calls for me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. So anger would be something I would try to avoid.

I’m glad brothers were working at Charlie Hebdo. Again no matter what you do you will always find a way to offend someone. I do agree that we and they shouldn’t be making fun of people for their beliefs. Yet people are sensitive and just describing someone’s religions in the wrong way could make that person think you’re making fun of them.

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“I also felt pride that my brothers were there, doing things that stood for something and shaped the world.”

I’m sorry, I don’t take pride in bullying and bigotry. They weren’t making cartoons saying why they preferred their belief over the belief of their target, they were showing extreme prejudice and bigotry for a specific group of people that make up a significant portion of the world’s population.

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Bullying? Charlie Hebdo was a publication with 45,000 papers circulated per issue. A minor player on the grand scheme of things and treated as such by French society. Not quite the school yard bully who runs the show by intimidating the smaller kids around him. More like a fly in the ointment.

Also the criticism that they weren’t saying their preferred belief over the belief of the target shows a misunderstanding of the nature of political cartoons. They target a problem and show it in a humorous or thoughtful light. Asking them to clarify complex issues is like complaining that a poem doesn’t show real character development. It’s not their purpose to do what you’re criticizing them for.

Also the significant portion of the world population is immaterial to me. Wealthy people are a fraction of the population. Atheists are a moderately sized part of the population in Europe. Jews are a fraction of the population. Christians are a massive population. Muslims have a massive population. People who believe that Global Climate Change is real are a signification portion of the population. People who believe Evolution is real or not real both significant or small portions of the population depending on where you are. Etc. Population size is immaterial to me.

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“but Michel and Bernard were the ones who actually were going out and doing something. They were the ones with the guts. The ones without fear.”

They were the ones showing cowardice, afraid of the beliefs of others and lashing out against those beliefs with disrespectful illustrations that they claimed to be tasteful satire. Disgusting.

I’m truly sorry that these individuals were killed but let us take some good from this tragedy. Let us see it as a reminder to be more civil and tolerant of the beliefs of others, to be more respectful of the beliefs of others. There is absolutely no reason, in a civil society, that those comics should have been created and published.

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Afraid of the beliefs of others? Citation needed on this one.

Lashing out? Showing St. Peter having sex with a deity isn’t lashing out to me. It’s just shock value satire. By that logic, Howard Stern is lashing out all the time. However I could be convinced people like him a problem. That’s a worthy discussion.

Where did Charlie Hebdo claim it was tasteful satire? IMO, There is no way they believed that. Some of them may have believed that but any reasonable people would have seen all the other media publications out there and would have known where Hebdo stood among them.

As for your last paragraph, I covered that in my previous sections. And to finish off, I appreciate Ryan for putting all his thoughts together and carefully spelling it out. And I also really appreciate him for being civil while doing it.

To wrap up my rebuttal, the idea of question and attacking anything is one of the greatest things to come out of modern society. Many Masons lost their lives question and attacking the power structures of monarchal Europe and we should all admire them for their work. And we should continue to admire those people that exercise that very free speech in the face of danger. Words can’t hurt us unless we allow them to hurt us. We can only use our words to answer the satire that we disagree with. There is no need to get mad. We should always strive to be civil and there are always better way then how Charlie Hebdo did it. But they are not cowardly. They are not lashing out. And they were certainly never afraid of the beliefs of others. They did what they always did. They went after everyone. It’s the ones that killed them or tried to censor them are the ones we need to be disgusted by.

Livingstone

Charlie Hebdo: A Death in My Family

BERNARD MARIS
Bernard Maris

 

MICHEL RENAUD
Michel Renaud

 

Hello Readers,

When a story hits, the 24 hours new cycle machine runs into the ground and in a blink the story vanishes into Wikipedia footnote history. When you read this, the main story will have passed. But for me the story is just beginning.

Two Brothers died on January 7th. Masonic brothers Bernard Maris and Michel Renaud were murdered by Islamist attackers. They died because they were exercising their free speech and those who wish to destroy such people had them killed in a bloody massacre.

This story is about them. It’s about two men who were part of a paper that was constantly threatened with death for doing something as simple as writing funny cartoons. It’s about two people who literally had police protection because their lives were always being threatened. And they died because they didn’t shrink back from men who ultimately took their lives.

We as Masons are taught through our ritual and through our culture that we have a bond to the fraternity and each other. Our word and our spirit are tied to it and thus to all the men around the world who share our Masonic label. When I saw this information about a week ago, it struck me and I wanted to make sure I wrote about it. As I write this, I don’t know where this blog entry will go. And that is why I’m writing about this. Two Brothers who are bonded to me through Masonry lost their lives and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The nature of that bond is something that I meditate on. As a Mason it’s common to look to God and to wonder how one should feel. Yet I didn’t do any such thing. Instead, my first reaction was to have a feeling of admiration. Even a bit of Masonic nationalism. I admired that Masons worked at such a paper that censors for no one. I also felt pride that my brothers were there, doing things that stood for something and shaped the world.

Pride, admiration. But not sorrow. Not loss. I wonder as I write this if that makes me a terrible person. I’ll have times where I find out someone admirable is a Mason and I’ll get a rush of excitement. And excitement that clearly comes from my own internal insecurities. Why should I be excited that another Mason is admired? Why should I feel prideful that a brother did something great. I clearly didn’t do anything. I have a Masonic label like this person and we do have a bond, but Michel and Bernard were the ones who actually were going out and doing something. They were the ones with the guts. The ones without fear.

I did some cursory research of them as I wrote this. If I’m going to talk about dead brothers, it only makes sense that I actually get to know who they were. For Bernard Maris, he has his own Wiki entry and several write-ups. He was an economic writer who used a pen name and he has a long history in Charlie Hebdo (11% stakeholder since 1992!) and has done a great deal of work in academia. His anti-globalization stance is pretty French and also one that I feel some affinity towards. A professor who wrote books about economics and who also wrote for a paper that drew funny cartoons? If we met in real life, I would have enjoyed his company. For Michel Renaud, the information is tougher to find. Putting his name into Google only reveals a few light articles, all in French. Apparently was a guest editor and he traveled the world a lot. He even wrote a few books.

In any other situation, these men are just another series of people killed in the news in a world where people die all the time. Between our news, action movies and books, experiencing people dying is just a commonality. Whether it’s a faceless henchman, or a close friend, death is a part of the tapestry of the things that we consume and care about. I have become desensitized. I owe some of that to my Asperger’s, but have also cried from the death of loved ones who were close to me. I recently had my grandfather on my Dad’s side die. It was the first time I cried in a long time. Maybe half a decade.

The nature of our emotional bond to each other is a complex one. I spoke to my Grandfather a few times a year and I saw him in person every few years. He was a good man who did things the right way. He was on the level and lived by the square yet never stepped foot in a lodge. When he died, he left a lot of money to my parents. Money he saved up. Money he could have used for pleasure or personal use. But he kept his minerals and metals and when his bond with the world snapped, he passed on not just a legacy of great moral nature but he passed on his sacrifice to my Dad and my Mother. For the first time in decades, my parents were now not in debt. My Dad had tears in his eyes when he told me, debt was one of the things that hung on him like a noose. He was finally free of his bonds to the world. I can see why he cried. Because of college loans, I have my bond to the world too. I have my debt. And someday when I’m free like my Dad, maybe I’ll cry too.

When I cried at my Grandfather’s funeral, I wish I cried more. I saw his body laying there and I had a decent cry. I wish I cried more. There was something inside of me that wasn’t letting go. Something that held me back from fully letting my emotions be free. While people were talking and observing the wake, I slinked off to a side room and surfed Reddit on my cellphone. I was back to being numb, being emotionless, being away from pain. I have never thought until now why I cried for my grandfather. Maybe it was because it was the first real funeral I’ve been too since I can remember. I’ve been lucky with that.

But what was my relationship with my grandfather? Like I said, I spoke to him a few times on the phone and we really didn’t have much to talk about. He was a Missouri farmer, I’m some Boston guy doing my thing in the film industry. He didn’t watch movies, I didn’t milk cows. We spent some time together every few years, but those experiences wouldn’t be more then a day. That was my relationship with my grandfather. We were bonded by blood, but we rarely saw each other.

Those experiences I had with my grandfather are slowly becoming distant memories. But this Thursday when I got to lodge to sit on the sidelines for a 3rd degree, I’m going to again share the same experience Bernard and Michel have experienced. And when I watch a 2nd degree in three weeks, I’ll share another experience. While they are GODF Masons (we consider them irregular but they have many similarities), I share memories and experiences with them just due to the nature of the Masonic system. We both did this. We both went from darkness to light. We both found ourselves separated from the world by being Masons yet more connected then ever to it. My grandfather and I shared experiences together, we had a bond together then cuts to the core of our DNA. A bond and a shared experience that brought me to tears. But when I found out Bernard and Michel died, I felt no such feeling. I actually felt worse when the initial attack happened. What does that mean? How should I feel?

It’s common for people to feel stronger bonds with people who aren’t blood then with people who are. Many people say they felt closer to their football coach then their father, closer to a great teacher then to their mother. I would say that typically the family blood bond is the strongest bond. Yet there are many instances of people having an uncle die and they remained impassioned but a famous celebrity dies and it brings them to their knees. There are always exceptions but family is the strongest one.

Masonry mimics that family. We have brothers, we’re ALL brothers. We have a Master of the lodge, the father, that while elected leads our tribe in the ways of organization and self-improvement. When Brothers die we are all called to be there to bury the dead and to support those that the brother left behind. We are a family. My grandfather, a man who lived a simple farm life and who I barely knew, caused me to break when I experienced his death. Yet I show no sorrow for two brothers who I share experiences with often who stood in the face of darkness and were struck down because of it?

And I guess it’s really simple for me. For me, that personal bond, that shared experience between men, is where my soul breaks. If I knew Barnard and Michel, I’m sure I would be there at their funeral and I would be just as broken up as anyone else. As I write this, pangs of guilt now mix with flashes of genuine sorrow for them. If I weren’t a Mason and I wasn’t writing this blog, I may have never cared about them. I may have never had the decency to understand who they were and are.

When my grandfather died, a poem was read. I cried when I saw my grandfather’s body, and while my memory is hazy, I’m sure I cried when this poem was read to. I’ll share it with you.

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

For my grandfather and for brothers Michel and Barnard, their bond with this world has now been broken. And someday we will all meet again in that great lodge, the building made without hands, eternal in the Heavens.

Lastly, as I read that poem again just now to copy and paste it into this entry, I almost broke down. I almost had that moment of true emotion. Then I realized I was thinking about myself. About how I was reading that poem, and how I was going to tell you how I felt. And in a flash those true emotions vanished away. My memory of the funeral is hazy but now I sit here and wonder if I ever cried at all when I first heard it. And then I realized something right here and now that I couldn’t cry when I read about Michel and Bernard, because all I could think about was me.

May I be forgiven and may I someday truly mourn the death of the great men who died doing the right thing. All three of them. They deserve better then me. It’s about them.

Livingstone

 

 

 

 

Horseshoe Theory – Our New Religion

Hello readers,

Livingstone reporting in! It’s been a long and exciting 2014 and it’s time to close out the year, with the hint to the next year. I bring you…THE HORSESHOE THEORY!

What is “Horseshoe Theory” you ask? I have the answer! Check the link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory

If you’re too lazy to click a link (kill yourself now), I’ll give you a summery.

I’ll start with the traditional ideological spectrum to provide context. This spectrum is the one that people point to for describing the extremes on the right and the left.

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The above spectrum has a number of flaws but this is considered the “traditional” way of thinking regarding political ideology. However many would argue that the spectrum looks like something closer to this.

political-spectrum-horsesho

Horseshoe Theory is the theory that the extreme right and left sides of the political and ideological spectrum are actually much closer to each other then the other parts of the political spectrum. As such, they are NOT in a straight line but curve downwards toward each other like a horseshoe. The curved side of the horseshoe represents moderation, constructive behavior and the ideal society. However anything below the middle line, and each of the ends are below the line, represents, extremist, totalitarian and destructive behavior. I hope you now understand the above picture and the summery of Horseshoe Theory.

Here is why I like Horseshoe Theory better. I’m sure some of you are familiar with another concept that regards ideology as a circle and that if you go in one direction for a while you get to something else. If you ask me, that’s the caveman drawing of the political spectrums and we’re due for something better. Also here is why Horseshoe Theory is better then The Straight Line. The Straight Line has been used to say that each end of the political spectrum turns into an extreme, but that opens the door for accusations of false equivalency and doesn’t visually show people that the extremes at the end of each ideological spectrum are one and the same.

Familiarize yourself with this theory. Not only will it be a major building block of this blog, I would argue that in some ways it is the cornerstone to how I see the world around me. Don’t be surprised when this theory goes mainstream. Also don’t be surprised if I realize I’m full of shit and write this whole thing off.

Logically, some to many of your are still skeptics to this thought process. Understandable. Anytime we learn a new thing that doesn’t fit into our understanding of the world, we are resistant to it.

Quick Tangent: When someone is resistant to a new idea, don’t beat them over the head. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, being resistant to new ideas makes a ton of sense. We cling to the things that we are taught as children, and once we become of age, we still cling to those ideas because we’ve survived this far with them. Logically, why would you want to absorb new ideas? You made it this far with the current ideas! Why change? New ideas such as “eat this porcupine”, “swim far out into the ocean so we can catch bigger fish”, and “ignore the fact that piss is yellow, maybe we should drink it!” probably got a lot of people killed. So for the early human, new ideas were bad news. So when someone shows any resistance to an idea, it’s just our natural biological machinery kicking into gear. The best way to get someone to change the way they think…is the crowd effect. The more people believe something, the more people are likely to believe it as well. Morality and ideology can heavily be tied to “well everyone is doing it”. Yes that may be sad, but it also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If enough people are doing something, then it probably isn’t a negative thing and you should do it too to survive and propagate yourself.

Tangent over! So yes, this idea may be skeptical for you animals so let me discuss the current ideology and then get to some examples.

On the right wing side of American politics, there exists the small government, big military, religious right, and libertarian block. On the left side…big government, secular, and minority social justice movement. Also FYI, this is a really weak explanation of the current political system which IMO doesn’t have any true rock solid ideals. The politics and ideology of the sides morph and change depending on which party is in power. Which is why Horseshoe Theory is probably the most apt theory for us to understand our current American system.

Example time!

Exhibit A:

Label Ostracizing – The use of labels to politically, economically, militarily and socially ostracize someone who disagrees with their ideology.

Examples of Label Ostracizing.

The extremist right will call some

1. A heretic

2. A terrorist

3. A fag

4. An antiamerican

5. An Antiwhite

6. A pussy

And the extremist left will call someone

1. A bigot

2. A racist

3. An antisemite

4. A homophobe

5. An islamaphobe

6. A sexist

Anyone who does that is –

Label Ostracizing

The above labels are used by the individual or group because they can quickly describe and situation or act. However, being humans/animals, anytime we discover something that can bend the will of others, we broaden it’s definition for a more expanded us. And then we slap the label on anything or anyone we don’t like, even if the label’s connection is flimsy at best.

Here are some examples of labels in action.

Someone likes yoga? Call them a heretic.

Someone criticizes Israel’s military strategy in the Middle East? Say that they’re antisemitic.

Someone wants to politically protest the actions of the government or corporation? Accuse them of being a terrorist.

Someone makes an inappropriate racial joke? Call them a racist.

Each of the above words can apply, but none of these words were created for how they are used in the examples. These labels have the power to break people not just individually, but in their careers, political opportunities, socially and mentally. Do each of the above words have a use? Ab-so-fucking-lutely. We must stand strong against terrorism, attacks on religion, people who are antisemitic, and a race-based power structure in America. But throwing those labels around to either silence dissent or to not answer back intellectually is extremist in itself. People may say things that we vehemently disagree with, but we must always take the high road and consider what they are saying and do our best to intellectually engage them. Not only will they learn something that may have a far more profound impact on them in how they see the world, they will be impressed with your cool moderation and hell they might even change! Or you might learn something new! Success!

Anyone on the rounded end of the spectrum here seeks to avoid labels as much as humanly possible. Even when someone is firing labels at you without any sincere attempt at intellectual discourse, you avoid labels and engage intellectually. You search for the truth even if someone tells you that what you are saying makes you XYZ label. And you don’t label people and try to get to the truth of what they are saying and you try to understand why they feel that way.

Exhibit B

Freedom Stripping – Stripping The People of their rights and pushing for a totalitarian measures.

Examples of Freedom Stripping.

The extremist left will

1. Violate someone’s freedom of assembly by telling them who they can or can’t do business with.

2. Violate the constitution by banning someone’s ability to own guns.

3. Violate freedom of choice by banning the ability to use products that threaten the environment.

4. Violate free speech by banning things that are offensive.

5. Violate freedom of choice by banning unhealthy food products

The extremist right will

1. Violate the equal protection clause by banning gay marriage.

2. Violate the establishment clause by blocking other religions.

3. Violate the establishment clause by banning non-believers from serving in government.

4. Violate free speech by banning things that are offensive.

5. Violate the right to privacy by illegally spying on it’s citizens.

Ultimately, all the above comes down to taking away someone’s freedom of choice. And it will be illustrated with this picture.

Freedom Stripping

If we consider, The People, as everyone who lives in America, then all of the above examples are ways that the right and left try to strip away power from the people at large. Many times, members of the extremes will seek to leverage their political power to break “their opponents” on the other side of the political spectrum by stripping them of rights so they can further their own power.

Here are some examples.

The extremist left will routinely argue for the limiting of gun ownership with some politicians even calling for an outright ban. They are essentially arguing that only the politic and military should own military grade guns or even guns at all. Considering the police and military make up around 3-5 million Americans out of a population of 340 million…they want the 1%ers to own all the guns. At it’s core, authoritarian in nature. Conversely, the extremist right supports the ability of the US government to spy on American citizens and yet their don’t support the ability of The People to do the same. Considering the Department of Homeland Security makes up 1% of this country…they support the 1%ers running the show here.

Anyone who seeks to take away the power of the people at large supports a Freedom Stripping ideology where The People shouldn’t be able to make XYZ decision.

Anyone on the round end of the Horseshoe will support the ideology of The Maximum Power to the Maximum amount of people. That is how you know someone is a moderate. They fight to give the most amount of people power and freedom.

Exhibit C:

Authoritarianism – The support for authority rule and the delegitimizing of of the ideological influence of The People.

Examples of Authoritarianism.

The extremist right will

1. Subject people to the authority of the religious leader

2. Subject people to the authority of the military leader

3. Subject people to the authority of the corporate leader

4. Subject people to the authority of the white male

5. Subject people to the authority of the wealthiest individual

The extremist left will

1. Subject people to the authority of the scientific leader

2. Subject people to the authority of the academic leader/person with a degree

3. Subject people to the authority of the oppressed minority

4. Subject people to the authority of the artistic leader

5. Subject people to the authority of the secularist leader

All of the above are the result of the desire for the extremes to want the few to dictate how people act, work, live and think.

AuthoritarianismAuthoritarianism works in the sense that The People subject themselves to a leader of some sort and let that person do the dictation of thinking of and how they should act. Pat Robertson, Richard Dawkins, Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, Donald Trump, Sean Penn, etc. Yes I know I put Hitler in with Donald Trump but I just wanted to set off the Goodwin’s Law checkmark now. Also bear with me here. Each of these people will espouse viewpoints that expect people to fall in line with their ideological thinking. They don’t espouse discussion, they instead expect people to follow their way of thinking. Sure they may offer “discussion” but considering their power/influence and already known thought process, it would be damaging socially/career-wise/politically to disagree with them or expect some sort of retribution. Also they may even tell you to resist authority…with the hopes that you follow their authority!

Also to note, this even applies to groups of people. That XYZ group is the authority on a certain subject matter or way or thinking and you should just obey them.

Here are some ideological examples.

This is what God said and God is never wrong so DO WHAT I SAY!

I’m a scientist and science is never wrong so DO WHAT I SAY!

I was in the military and you have no authority to speak on military matters.

I have a degree in Women’s Studies and you have no authority to speak on women’s matters.

I’m a wealthy person and rich people are successful for a reason so do what I say.

I’m a great artist so agree with my political/ideological positions if you want to make it in this town.

Only people who are black can talk about racial oppression.

Only people who are white know how to run a government.

Someone who is in the rounded end of the Horseshoe offers their perspective from their position of success or experience, but is aware that knowledge and authority may come from many different stations on this earth.

As with most of these examples I have mentioned in this blog, they’re rough and rudimentary. Also again I’m a professional moron. But we’re breaking new ground here so don’t be surprised if things get dirty.

Exhibit D:

Identityism – Changing your moral/ethical beliefs based on the identity of the individual or the propagation of one identity over another.

Yes, this is also the name for a school of Sufism metaphysics but this word is the best word we have to explain my Livingstone created label for a group of people we see every day. And those people are people that change their moral and ethical beliefs based off the identity of the person they are interacting with.

Buckle up, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Identityist

I’ll cut to some examples first.

1. We should give scholarships to people who are black but not to people who are white.

2. We should only allow whites to go to school here.

3. Women should be trusted in rape cases but not the men.

4. Women are better at raising children then men are.

5. Jews are better at comedy.

6. Christians are more moral.

7. Freemasons are better at government.

8. This bar is for gay people only but straight people can’t have bars for only themselves.

9. This business is for straight people only and gay people can’t work here.

We’ve all seen this before. Someone believes XYZ thing, but then change the identity of the person their belief is attached to and all off a sudden that belief changes. As a Mason, this is probably the nearest and dearest to me. I believe in treating people on the level and I’ve always interpreted that as all of society. We treat everyone as close to equally as possible. The idea we can treat one people one way and another group of people a different way is the foundation of discrimination.

Now this theory is young and needs some ironing out. Because we are all different and have very different histories and upbringings that make us different. But the reality is that the ultimate society in my personal opinion is one where everyone is treated the same and is devoid of identity at all! This society is the one that leads to the least amount of conflict and the best chance to create a pure harmony.

Listen to me here, I’m about to say another thing that’s controversial. The root of conflict in history is NOT ideology, but identity. There are all different types of Jews, Christians, Communists, Fascists, Republicans, Democrats, Blacks, Whites, Europeans, Women, Men, Asians, Homosexuals, Heterosexuals, Americans, Russians, French, and so on and so forth. Of the above identities, they have a great amount of diversity in morality, ideology, politics, culture and so forth within them. And many of the above mentioned overlap in their moral structure. Sometimes they seriously overlap.

But what separates them is their identity. The identity they have either given to themselves or society has given to them. And labels seperate people who would otherwise see themselves as the same.It means they’re “different” from each other. And when people have divisions between each other or see each other as different, soon conflict will emerge. Look above. Every single identity group mentioned above has been in conflict with each other at some point or another. We have always been taught that ideological differences are the thing that causes war. And not just a war of guns but a war of ideas, culture, media, politics, etc. No my friends, I say it’s identity. Now of course I’m in Hypothesis mode with a lot of this and my lack of evidence provided shows I still have some work to do. And yes, I’m sounding a bit authoritarian here but consider this. There may be some truth to it.

Now to be on the rounded end of the spectrum here, you would treat people the same regardless of identity. Instead, you would treat them differently based on their actions and character. If someone is Blind, you don’t trust them differently because they are blind, you treat them differently because you see that they can’t see. It sounds like I’m saying the same thing but it’s much different. You react. Their actions guide how you’ll action and you act accordingly. What is accordingly? That is trying to treat them like everyone else as reasonably as possible.

Alright, so this is my first salvo at the creation of the structure behind what Horseshoe Theory means in todays America.

Now the million dollar question. Why is this here in a Freemason blog? Well because the answer is that anytime a house leans to far to one side, it collapses. Masonry strives for moderation, temperance and prudence in all things. Masonry and much of society has been the victim of the extremes since time immemorial, and the worst atrocities have happened due to the extremes. I am searching for that system that avoids the pitfalls of leaning to far from one side to another.

Now again, I’m a professional moron. I’m in a sandbox, trying something new out. I’d love to hear what you think and where this whole system needs some work and improvement.

Thank you for reading.

Livingstone

The Masonic Identity, in a Nutshell

Delville0204

 

Hello readers,

Livingstone here.

I’ve been off the grid for a while, doing some heavy work. But I’m jumping back in and I wanted to give you something to sink your teeth into.

One of the biggest challenges for people is to think about what Freemasonry means and is. So I created a writeup about the Freemason Identity. As a note, this is just a briefer as truly understanding Freemasonry could take a lifetime.

Masonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Masonry is a “secretive society” yet the vast majority of the Masonic world can be easily searched online. It’s classified as a fraternity but it’s not like any fraternity we know today. Everyone who goes through the ritual is considered a Speculative Mason. While an Operative Mason works on actual buildings, a speculative Mason works on “building and perfecting their own mind” and are given tools with moral meanings that are up to the interpretation of the individual Mason. All brothers are equal on the level. And one step further, there isn’t any Masonic authority at all as each lodge/grand lodge can choose to recognize other lodges at their discretion.

The true origins of Freemasonry are generally unknown. What we do know is that Freemasonry has been spawned by a society of secretive builders. Many modern scholars point to the gothic builders of Medieval times as the source, but as someone who has experienced the ritual I can confidentially say there is no way those builders were the sole designers of modern Freemasonry. Archeological research has shown that there are references to Masonic elements as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. The Bible is littered with references to things that Freemasons experience and understand. From Greek Mystery Schools, to Jewish teachers/prophets, to The Knights Templar, there has been a variety of likely elements that lead to the gradual construction and design of the Speculative Masonry that we see today. In 1717 Masonry revealed itself to the public and you can now find Masonic lodges in almost every country around the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Freemasonry

Freemasons have almost always been on the forefront of modern thought. Allowing men of all races and creeds to come together, and men of all religions and beliefs to come together and men of all social and economic classes to come together has been part of our design since time immemorial. We espouse values Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth and we constantly seek to internalize those ideas. We are ever in search of creating harmony between people. If there was a revolution against tyranny that installed a republic/democracy around the world, dollars to donuts there were Freemasons in key positions. From the civil rights movement, to religious freedoms, to the fighting of anti-semitism, to fighting income inequality, and so forth, Masons have always pushed for a more on-the-level society.

As such, we have been hated by many from day 1. Those ideas of religious tolerance made us enemies of the Catholic Church and the Church immediately hunted us down and imprisoned those that were Masons. Protestant leaders, the same people we fought for tolerance for, have condemned us as a Satanist conspiratorial force for world domination. The first American 3rd party, The Anti-Masonic party, wiped out Freemasonry in the US. Freemasons were hunted down during the Spanish Inquisition, and then Franco took power during WWII and imprisoned or killed 80,000 suspected Masons. We have been crushed in Tsarist Russia, and then sent to the Gulags in Soviet Russia. We have been banned from almost all atheist Communism groups for being a threat to their system and illogical for our theism. Italian nationalists have sought to kill us, African warlords have suppressed us, the UK government targets us specifically, Japan used as an an excuse to attack China in WWII, etc. We are banned in almost every Arab nation around the world, Al-Qaeda has tried to blow us up and much of Islam considered us a Zionist menace. Liberal hippies have accused us of being “squares” that we’re just a bunch of racist rich people. And our suppression culminated in the Protocols of Zion, and anti-Masonic/Jewish hoax that Hitler used to exterminate almost all the Freemasons he captured during the Holocaust. Even today, people treat us with a conspiratorial tone and suspicion.

However, I have never experienced a “Masonic SJW”. Masons don’t really talk about this part of our history or identity at all. After spending some time on TiA, I’m glad we don’t.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppression_of_Freemasonryhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_conspiracy_theories http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Masonry

Yet while Freemasons have suffered, they have also occupied some of the highest positions of power in the world. From revolutionaries, to kings/presidents, to scientists, comedy, businessmen, artists, explorers, writers, clergy, sports, and philosophy, our brotherhood has helped laid the foundation for many great men to help build the world in better ways. No society of people have overthrown more tyrannical governments then Freemason brothers have. Even governments that have been occupied by some influential Freemasons! (see Mexico and France for example) The Rothschilds family was populated by a number of Masons, half of all US presidencies (President/VP) have either had a Mason there or a relative that was a Mason, about half of all US supreme court justices have been Masons, almost every major Hollywood studio had a Freemason founder, the Godfather of the Internet was a Freemason, etc etc. Even today, while the environment is still suspicious of Masonry, a few brothers have been public about their affiliation, such as Steve Wozniak of Apple, to John Elway/Shaq, Michael Richards of Seinfeld, to Eric Cantor of unemployed. And there are many others out there. Also Wikipedia is notorious for not having proven Masons to be on their respective pages…but it is Wikipedia so there’s that.

http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_1_A_to_D.htm

This is Masonry in all of its confusing, complex, enlightening, eclectic, diverse and similar identity. It’s a trip, I’ll tell you that.

Livingstone

The Brave New World of Masonry: The Internet Part 2

internet-100016261-large Hello readers,

Livingstone here. As covered in my last blog entry, I described how Masonry is starting to shift into the internet age and I introduced what that could mean.

Now, it’s time to dive into the moral, philosophical, NSA, Social Network, and transparency aspect of this. Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Internet Masonry is going to force dramatic changes on the Fraternity. The Masonry of the 1950s-1990s was a form of Masonry that valued the secrecy of the Fraternity almost too much. There are countless stories of Masons who badly wanted to have friends or family members join. But they were restricted from inviting someone based on our rejections of membership solicitation. Except they took this rejection two steps to far and many times didn’t even mention they were even part of the Order to those people. It’s one thing to not want to violate someone’s free will by not asking them. It’s entirely another for someone to not even know that it’s even possible for them to become a Mason. There has been so much misplaced orthodoxy to this that it has seriously hurt the Fraternity. Also considering how much the secrets of Masonry are up for debate, the vast majority of those brothers went to the extreme in trying not to violate their obligation. In a Fraternity that espouses the importance of education and knowledge, many Masons weren’t even telling people anything about Masonry. They acted like it didn’t even exist. Madness!

Yet the internet essentially blows that up. Take a look at the Freemasonry Wikipedia entry. There it is folks. Everything you need to know to get a primer on what Masonry is about, and that still is only scratching the surface. Which is pretty incredible in our digital age. Both that we now can get information on what “is” Masonry…and also how there is so much missing in that Wikipedia entry. But the debate on what is secret or not is now starting to be decided by the internet.

Alright boys and girls, I’m putting in my disclaimer that it’s Livingstone Speculation Time and I only speak for myself (and maybe potentially a new generation of  Masons). Many of our old ways are soon going to go. Firstly, our vow to not violate the secrets of Masonry can now be seriously geared back because of the internet. If something isn’t a secret anymore…then you can talk about it! With that said you do have to be specific about what you say. Wikipedia articles and lodge websites are a great guideline for what is secret. Obviously Masons should consult with their lodge and jurisdictional rules, but if it’s there…talk away! Also since we can see the past papers of Masonic writers with the click of a button then we can assume what they’ve talked about isn’t secret. So cut the crap. If what you’re talking about is reasonably easy to find and doesn’t violate your vow, have at it. Our order is all about bringing light to people and fighting ignorance. Embrace Masonry for what it stands for and enlighten people. The internet has now made it clear for how we will approach this.

brett-blog-pic

This all means that Masonry is ripe for another expansion and also another major internal question. We live in a society that doesn’t just value information…it can’t stop consuming it! Yet the overconsumption of information is a real problem. Also the context for what that information means, and who is interpreting it, can mean all the difference. I mentioned in the last entry that the free flow of information will be great for the fraternity. But how you process information is hugely important. There are a number of people who are in full backlash mode for websites like Upworthy, TheChive,  The Huffington Post (sorry, it’s true) and Drudge Report (sorry, also true) for their hyperbolic presentation of information. While forums like /r/Freemasonry have become a boon for the Masonic community, the real meat of Masonry is the secretive discussion. We Masons are made very aware of how words can be interpreted, but the human element attached to those words is FAR more important then just the words. An idea written online by someone can be interpreted much differently if that person tells you the very same thing in person. Body language, passion, and how they are taking the argument can speak volumes. And while we have such great access to all this information, we still must discuss in person. It’s one thing to quickly pass around things online, but I argue that it can create a regressive form of communication. While we can be far more exact, there’s a barrier between people that is very real. Look at the comments sections of most article. It’s a hellfire of ravenous opinions. And the majority of them don’t even bother to work with facts or discuss things in a scholarly way. It’s us vs. them. And that does disturb me. The internet and our exchange of information is seductive in it’s ease and exactness, but it loses the human element. And without the human element information will never be complete. We Masons know from our rituals how important our physical presence is to the ritual and it’s imparting of knowledge and Masonic light. The same applies to life.

I haven’t personally felt this type of coldness from brothers online that I do from non-brothers. This has been an interesting phenomenon and it says a great deal about the character of men who have joined the fraternity…and how Masonry has influenced these men. And also how our less than great members haven’t figured out the internet. But our worldwide Masonic bonds, the moral importance and our shared appreciation of light have made our exchanges better then what usually goes on around the web. And this isn’t confirmation bias. I’ve been around and it’s true. Masons don’t let the “keyboard barrier” between them turn them into assholes. Which inadvertently shows the importance of people feeling bonded together as a community for civil discourse in the digital age. I know better transparency is also helping this, but instead it’s using social pressure to suppress the problem instead of people actually fixing the problem inside themselves.

welcome_to_the_internet__please_follow_me_by_sharpwriter-d5buwfu

Now our vow to keep our secrets of Masonry is sacred to us. I have found a few times where I have feel that I have been on the wrong side of the obligation. I haven’t violated any secret per se, I do feel like a bad person. While I have said how we’re moving in a progressive direction for Masonic understanding, I also think we’re breaking the spirit of our Masonic promise to secrecy. Again, when it comes to the transparency, the free exchange of knowledge and ideas of the internet…it can be seductive to want to join in as a Mason. I would also say the zeitgeist of the gay rights movement has secretly been a driving force for Masonry’s more liberal turn to showing itself. To watch the Gay Rights Movement is to watch a group of people who have been living in secret, oppressed and victimized all over the world, and yet cheered on by huge sections of society for their success and for revealing themselves. It’s rubbing off on us. Many of us Masons are sick of conspiracy. Sick of living in the dark. Sick of having to conceal our identity. We want what gay women and woman are starting to have…a chance to be ourselves and proud of who we are within society.

Social networking has really driven this as well. We used to live in a world where we wouldn’t know is someone was gay, Jewish, atheist, or whatever. This even applies to more well know groups of people like Christians and such. But if you were from a small group of people most people wouldn’t know who you are unless you specifically told them. But now, you can slap the details of your identity onto your Facebook profile and BOOM, the world knows who you are. And since we can see the status updates of each other even when we aren’t around we can usually figure out who someone really is pretty quickly. But more importantly it’s people now being able to freely decide who their identity is…and then letting the world know. When it comes to identity almost all of human history was about people being given their identity with little choice on their part about it. And if there was an identity that wasn’t accepted by mainstream society you lived in the shadows. Now due to the civil rights movement, gay rights and others, people have come to understand that if someone has an identity that isn’t normal…it’s not a bad thing. For Masons the time is ripe to start to be ourselves, so to speak.

But as things go in Masonry, things don’t always go with the tide. And I would say that most of the time they go against it.

The Masonic transparency camp is one side of the coin…the other side is the Traditional Observance lodge movement. I’m not going to go into specifics but the TO Masons are the fastest growing group of Masons and they are secretive as hell. They have an internet presence for a lodge website, but that is it. They are huge into knowledge and education…but only inside the lodge walls. They are very strict about not violating their Masonic secrets and they are very hard about not revealing their Masonic identity. Now the majority of Masons are secretive about their identity so this isn’t anything special and seems more par for the course. But their rapid expansion is sending a psychological message to the rest of Masonry in this regard. And that is “It’s ok to not feel like you have to tell the world about who you are.”

information-security

I can’t always speak about why countless Masons have been secretive about who they are, but I can say that the Masons I have met and the Masons I have read about rarely struggled openly about their Masonic identity. For them, they were Masons and that was between their brothers, God, and themselves. No need to go around telling other people. No need to feel justified in being a Mason by having society accept you. It is ok to be who you are if you know what you are doing is right. Nothing more.

This line of thinking is starting to become controversial today. But it’s a rarely used one and one that I will guarantee will become part of our national psychology at some point.

The secretive nature of TO lodges and most Masons has also taken an interesting twist with the NSA and our growing understanding of their mass surveillance. As the split in Masonry starts to form between the Transparency Masons and the Secretive Masons, how we approach our relationship to the Masonic secrets needs to be addressed. Our phones and our computers are not secure. The exchange of Masonic secrets is being compromised every time we use one of these devices. Yet there are Masons out there who just shrug their shoulders and say the NSA probably already has the secrets so why bother. I’m going to come across as a bit of a hypocrite here and I’m going to say that just because something wrong is happening, doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. Now I’m being specific when I say that the things that are being put on websites that I don’t consider secrets aren’t secrets anymore because I trust the judgement of the Masons that put them there. I’m still on the reserved side but I trust the institutions that work in Masonry to know what they’re doing. The things we say to other Masons that are not widely known are still considered secrets and we should absolutely refrain from trusting ANY form of communication that isn’t person to person. Our ritual insinuates the importance of this if you’ve paid attention. Get off the phones brothers. Don’t touch your computer. Your Internet Lodge is a trap and if you really respect your obligation, don’t break it.

However again, the internet is going to force Masons to decide what the secrets of Masonry really mean. Are they a bond that brings us together in a special shared experience, to serve as an allegory for how knowledge is to be shared and understood? Or is what is happening now the logical and natural progression of Masonry from a rebellious secretive order to becoming the light that fights injustice around the world and seeks to improve all people. For that question, I’ll let you decide.

Livingstone

 

What is Freemasonry? The Result of the Human System

4975206_f260The zeitgeist of January/February 2014 will be looked back years from now as the dawning of something big for the fraternity, or another wheel spinning exercise performed by Masons of all eras. Within the past week, three major blogs have dived into discussing “what Freemasonry is”. Obviously a conversation that is not new to the Fraternity. But considering all the people jumping in to talk about it, it’s clear that right now in this period of time the question is very meaningful to a lot of people. Firstly I’ll link to the blogs in question in order they were written.

 

 

1. What is Freemasonry (Tim Bryce)

2. What is Freemasonry – A Response to Tim Bryce (Greg Stewart)

3. What is Freemasonry – A Response to Tim Bryce and Greg Stewart (BeeHive)

In Masonry we learn things come in threes. Well we’re getting a forth here so tough shit.

I’m going to make this easy and I’ll state my thesis of what Freemasonry is, and then explain.

“Freemasonry is the result of the human system”

What? Not a Fraternity? Or Club? Or Community? I argue that Masonry is less of a designed creation, but the result of a designed system.

To describe Freemasonry as a result is not something any of the authors did in their writings. Sure they mentioned reasons for why Masonry may have come to be but I think they missed the larger and deeper reason for why it came together. I’m going to get very philosophical here so put your pants on and buckle up.

Humanity and how we operate is a system. A code. A computer program. If we are to believe in the Great Architect of the Universe, then we must admit that we were created at one point. And if we were created we were designed/coded to be a certain way. After that, our opinions differ. Yet to admit that there is a higher Architect at play means that there was a design just based off how we interpret an Architect to work.

Early on in history during the ancient Egyptian times, they saw the thousands of elements around them and tried to justify each as being the result of God. Ra, the God of Sun. Res, the God of the pregnant women. Anuket, God of the river Nile. Hathor, Goddess of Love. Nut, Goddess of Sky and Stars. You can catch them all right here. Also, are you catching my drift?

This system of creating multiple Gods, one for every element also manifested itself in Greek Mythology. Hades, God of Death. Helious, God of Sun. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Again, you catch my drift.

And you will find this Elemental God structure manifested in many ancient religions. The major reason being is that early humans used them as ways to explain how things worked the way they did. They didn’t know anything about how the earth and orbits and such, so when the sun vanished they assumed the sun God was going to sleep. Yet women were still getting pregnant, people were still falling in love…AHA! There must be multiple Gods and they’re still awake. This way of creating Gods to explain various things, specifically the unknown was a major reason for the predominance of elemental God based religions.

However, the singular supreme being religion was manifesting itself concurrently in Egypt during this time. Archeological evidence of Judaism is sparse for it’s early history but it is estimated to have manifested into a people nation between the 10th and 4th century BC.

Judaism was interesting in that not only did it have only one God, but because of the lack of a central authority after the end of the Temple Era, it became an interpretive religion. As in the prophets stopped and there wasn’t any central authority or successor to define what the rules and laws meant. So in this absence individual Jews and sects were left to interpret for themselves what many of the elements in their prophetic history meant. Concurrently in Asia, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism had formed or were forming. And each had complex and individual interpretations of the supernatural and spiritual world.

However the singularity of the one God became the dominant idealogical element in world events and the singular “messenger” became one as well. Buddha founded Buddhism, Jesus founded the Christian belief system, Mohammed founded Islam, Joseph Smith founded Mormonism, Bab for Baha’i, L. Ron Hubbard for Scientology…you get it. The one person or being was the creator of specific systems of morality that became well known in many parts of the world today.

Now I know what you’re wondering. We just took a long trip talking about religion, where the hell am I going? Again, stay buckled in.

While the singular figure was a major element in the creation of various spiritual systems, the spiritual systems all very much were designed around an “equalism” ideology. As in they all preached, in some form or another, the equal nature of human beings in relation to each other. Let me get back to this in a moment.

Because singularity was also the dominant element of rulers in this time. Critics of religion will say that religion was a tool used by powerful leaders to brainwash people into “worshiping the powerful individual” while also sedating them into their suffering by embracing the “we’re equal” bullshit and also telling people that it will be all better when they die.” Not a bad argument. Except the very moment religion was founded it spelled an eventual doom for the king/dictator/emperor. Because if we were truly all equal, then those below the people in power would seek to enforce this and eventually “equalize” those in power by tearing them down.

To give this context, lets look at the founding of America. It is well known that when the founders of America created the line “all men are created equal” man of them were well aware that slavery existed in America and that women were treated very unequally. They knew that eventually the time bomb would go off, so to speak. People would eventually tear down the systems of inequality to make the country more equal as our constitution intended.

Those kings on the ancient world embraced religion because either they believed they were appointed to their power by God, that religion was useful to control people, or the few truly did believe in their faith system. But the creation of “equalism” set into motion the eventual destruction of the king and dictator. As over time people understood the totality of their belief systems, they realized society would never be truly equal until the government and power structure reflected it as such.

Here is an example. Religion was a major driving force in the American Revolution, the first shot at the elimination of the ruler who ruled inequality, not chosen by the rest of the equal population. Reference 1 Reference 2 Reference 3.

However the American Revolution wasn’t just a simple event, but filled with deeper changes going on within it. And that is that many of the architects of the American revolution were Freemasons. Freemasons made us only a few percentage points of the population, yet they become the charging force in the overthrow of the British Empire in America. How did such a small group of people become so influential in the revolution? And furthermore, from South America, to Africa, to The Middle East, to Europe, to parts of Asia, Freemasons were leaders and the engineers of the destruction of the Kings and Emperors who ruled over their people. No group of people have been responsible for the toppling of more governments then Freemason men have. These men saw the structure of society in an enlightened way, and sought to smash the inequality and injustices of the world.

So who are these people? These Freemasons? Let’s take a turn back to my conversation on religion.

At a certain point many educated people all over the world started to realize the world was FILLED with different religions. Sure they knew it from experience, but some men started to come to terms with the fact that their individual religion was a minority in the world, as was every other spiritual system. To first realize, in a deeper sense must have been a traumatic one. To be faced with the reality that your God and messenger/savior might not be correct, could shake a person to their core. This why is why so many religions went toe to toe against each other in violence. In the minds of many ancient leaders their religion was the right one, they would obviously win in combat and eventually their religion would reign supreme.

Well that didn’t happen. Islam busted into Europe through Spain but was eventually beaten back. Christians muscled back into the Middle East during the Crusades but were kicked out and never got back in. Jews were pushed out wherever they went, in a constant state of disruption. Hinduism remained isolated on the Indian subcontinent and Buddhism became massive in size but was eventually encircled by European imperialism. No one “won”.

We don’t know when these “enlightened” figured first met each other, but what we do know is the legend of Masonry extends back into pre-Christian times. And even then, there were multiple religions and belief systems. And for whatever reason, the mast majority of these belief systems combined the messages of “love for other humans”, “equality”, and “understanding the supreme being”. Which so happen to be the three major Masonic beliefs of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. But these enlightened figures didn’t look to fight each other. Instead, they realized if they actually followed their beliefs, then they SHOULDN’T be fighting. They also realized that the interpretation of their religion were being heavily influenced by the state and which ever dictator ran the state. What they realized was that their belief system was more open to interpretation and different thoughts then they originally realized. And what they soon realized that with the right interpretation, there was an alignment in each of their beliefs, enough so where they could be join together in that alignment. These men become Freemasons. So several elements of this order of men were created to help it run. They ran their system as close to equality as possible by creating a Republic-Democracy, one man one vote. They made secrecy a central tenant for philosophical and pragmatic reasons (people unafraid of the unknown would become attracted to Masonry, also secrecy allowed them to stay alive). They allowed men of all races as God did not see people in race, and so on and so forth.

Now what those Masons actually were in early design is open to interpretation, but they manifested the identity of builders. It made sense. Stone Masons were men who built powerful structures that stood the test of time. But these Freemasons weren’t talking secular structures, but structures that were the foundation of our faith systems and our relationship with God. Freemasons saw that they were building ideas. This choice of identifying with builders became a powerful one. It sent the message to men who were Masons that while they were perfecting their mind, through their shared faith beliefs, they were builders. And around them they saw the world tearing itself apart over economics, power, religion, nationality, race, etc. All things, that violated their shared religious belief. And something happened to these men. Here’s my opinion. They so deeply felt the spirit of God that they believed they had a special mission. Their mission was the build a society that could mirror what their Masonic society had become. If it could work in their lodge, why couldn’t it work on the national level?

Fast forward 50 years (or 6000 years depending on your Masonic belief) and  American Freemason men were tearing down the dictatorial British empire controlled by King George. The system was bullshit. His religious interpretations were designed to perpetuate his power. The system was unequal.  The Freemasons had become stacked with powerful freethinking men who decided now was the time and they flattened the British. And then over the next 200 years Freemasons all of the world popped up out of nowhere and tore down their respective national regimes to create governments more reflective of their Masonic ethos.

Yet something interesting happened. When the Freemason men tore down their governments and create democracies, they ended up in positions of power and influence all through their new nations. But there wasn’t a conspiracy or a planned system. It became something that started to “naturally” happen. If we have men who are free thinking, they naturally will be on the cutting edge of exploration, science, military, arts, etc. And with a support network like they have, they will be able to be put into positions to put their ideas into action. However, the people still in power weren’t happy with this. They were threatened. Freemasons, after revealing themselves, suffered horrendous persecution all over the world. For the kings and rulers still in power, murder, torture, banishment, imprisonment, and eviction were the name of the game. And from the perspective of the people, they saw this small group of people constantly ending up in power. And the masses whole heartedly took part in the elimination of Masonry. The anti-Masonic party in the USA wasn’t just a few men, but a huge swath of Americans who saw Masons as the new monarchy and sought to destroy them. The people who had lived in national enslavement had now turned to crush those that freed them.

Reminder, I’m not giving a history here. When some asks “What is Freemasonry”, my response is “Everything that comes with being a Mason”.

Yet there were large population sectors that idolized and looked up to the Masons. They wanted Masons in power because they trusted them more then anyone else, and they wished to work to a more open society with those Masons. The same way we look fondly to Harvard students or people who work in a charitable non-profit, people looked at Masons the same way. These people also became angered at the violence and persecution of Masonry and sought to protect them like any other citizen. Masonry essentially created three groups. Those that hated Masonry, those that didn’t even know what it was, and those that favored Masons.

What was the most frustrating thing about Freemasonry for it’s enemies, was that is was a very nebulous target. It was an organization of people in power, but so were many other organizations. They weren’t racist because they brought in men of all races.  Yet the Masons had men who were racist too, which had it’s supporters and detractors. They weren’t against any religion, because they had men of many different religions. Yet they had many members who were very much proponents of their own respective religion. They weren’t of one nation, as they had brothers connected across the globe. Yet they weren’t looking for one form of government, as they had a rule where they were to remain loyal to their respective country. It was a combined yet uniquely individual experience. Masons where accused of perpetuating their own power, yet they constantly pushed for policies that would LESSEN the power of individual rulers and increase the power of the people at large.

Masons were a target people would swing at and never hit. Which is why they never ended up on the wrong side of history, because Masonry was in all spectrums of thought. And yet they were able to somehow get so many men on the right side of history. This became especially enraging for detractors of Masonry, for some people wish to see the world burn, and they never had a good excuse to burn Masonry. Jews experienced this as well in many regards. In free societies Jews became a small group of people, with a full spectrum of belief and identity, that achieved incredible positions of power while also suffering from inexcusable and worldwide hatred. It’s not a unique phenomenon. Masonry inadvertently became a way to expose evil, because there was never a good reason to hate Masonry. Thus, those that hated Masonry had their hate not come from logic, but from a darker place within them.

Alright, so that went for a while. So what is Masonry you ask? Masonry is the result of the human system. And I say this because there wasn’t any singular Masonic creator like there was for almost every modern faith system like we’ve seen. Masonry was built by many forces, by things from around the world that manifested together to create Freemasonry. It’s the result of a human system that has been smashing into itself since the beginning of time. No one human created Masonry, but humanity did. To call it just a Fraternity, or a Club, or a Community ignores the world around Masonry. Masonry is a system, part of a larger human system, and we’re all a part of it.\

Livingstone