So it’s been a while since we last spoke as I’ve been busy with work but here I return.
I’ve avoided this blog now because I’ve had nothing important to say. In a society with a billion voices, knowing when to speak and when not to a major part of what keeps society free of superfluous knowledge and ideas. We only have so much to process. To just spam out any half-baked idea because you feel like it is not only not constructive, it contributes to the larger problem of information overload we are experiencing in the Information Age.
This actually serves as a good segway into today’s topic, and that is the Prison of Knowledge. This may seem like a strange thought, as we have always been taught that knowledge sets you free. Here are a few familiar quotes.
“Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery”
– Miles Davis
“Knowledge is Power”
– Francis Bacon
I’m sure we’ve seen quotes likes this a number of times in our lives, especially in the Western World. And for many of us that have experienced this way of thinking, we have set ourselves on a journey to accumulate knowledge to free ourselves and give us the power we need.
But I’m going to play the other side of the coin here. I agree that we must be constant seekers of knowledge and information, but I feel that knowledge is destructive as well. Knowledge can make us feel like a prisoner. I’ll give an example.
Let’s discuss height. I choose height because it’s a generally neutral piece of information and not politically loaded. I’ve also chosen height because it cannot be changed. You’ll understand why this is important shortly.
So let me inform you of a few things.
“Surveys have uncovered that less than 3% of CEOs were below 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) in height. Ninety percent of CEOs are of above average height.”
“Tall people get paid more money: A 2004 study by Timothy Judge at the University of Florida found that for every inch of height, a tall worker can expect to earn an extra $789 per year. That means two equally skilled coworkers would have a pay differential of nearly $5,000 per year, simply because of a 6-inch height differential, according to the study.”
And now onto relationships/sex
Researchers quizzed 700 men and women about their ideal partner height, as well as what would be the minimum and maximum acceptable. A second part of the study asked 50,000 men and women how satisfied they were with their own height. The most satisfying height for a man is 6ft 3in; for a woman, it’s 5ft 9in.
“A recent study showed that women prefer to marry men who are 8 inches (!) taller than they are.”
And the final whopper,
“The likelihood that a man under 5-foot-9 is contacted by a Manhattan or Bronx woman online is a scant 1.2 percent, with Brooklyn coming in with a paltry 2.4 percent response rate, according to a study conducted by the dating site AYI.com, which analyzed 50,000 interactions over two months.”
And the average height of men in America? 5’10. That’s right. There are numerous other people out there just as talented as you but make an extra 1k a year for each inch of height on you. That can make or break your life. Also for almost half of the ENTIRE male population, they aren’t desirable to women and aren’t considered appropriate relationship/sexual material. And 90% of men aren’t the “ideal” height of women. And you have to understand the average numbers count the US as a whole, and don’t take into account how the younger generation is on average much taller then the national average. 6’0 for white Europeans used to be distinctly tall and now is just a shade under average.
I brought this up because height is a factor that we cannot change, and thus it’s a locked fact, the same way that the world is round and the New York Jets will lose every year.
I’m 5’11 naturally, 6’0 with shoes on. When I read this height information about a year ago, it was crippling for me to read. 8 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE!? I couldn’t rant to social media because I would have gotten the “Napoleon Complex” schtick thrown at me. Even thought I’m above average height at 6’0. (See, I’m rounding up now) There aren’t any groups for this so you don’t really have anyone to talk to. Society doesn’t address this issue. And this isn’t some social construct thing that would show that it’s some cultural fad. Instead many of the studies I’ve pointed to say that there is a basis in human evolutionary psychology that cause women to want to be comforted by taller men. I remember binge reading these articles, and the next day I was walking through Los Angeles and for the first time in my life, I felt an intimidation towards taller men, which leads to feelings of insecurity, which lead to feeling of anger. I’ve never felt this way before! My would view and way I view things was now thrown out of whack because of this new piece of knowledge. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Knowledge hadn’t set me free or given me power, it now imprisoned me. And I’m average height for an American male and I’m at the 6’0 mark that makes me desirable to most women!!! How do the half of men in this country who are shorter then me feel about this? How must they feel when exposed to this bit of information?
And this height discussion is a symbolic station of knowledge of a society that is filled with stations of knowledge that can cripple us.
We don’t live in a Democratic-Republic. By definition, we live in a Civil Oligarchy or Plutocracy. United States is a Civil Oligarchy
Or look at the construct of White Privilege and it’s effects on minorities in the US.
Fucking terrifying, right? I could go on and on here. Woooooo knowledge yaaaaaayyyyy!
And these things I’m telling you here are often modified or not provided in context. The media in America, owned by our corporate Oligarchs, cover news stories involving the above not to help people better understand the world but to maximize profit potential. And the people who work at these media organizations have been molded in their political views over time by their drive to get more clicks and make the business grow. So that they become an echo chamber and their hiring practices are inadvertently designed to hire people who think like them. Thus creating a self-sustaining feedback loop. Add in extremist positions being taken to stand out to get more ad friendly clicks and soon the company as a whole gradually shifts more and more to extremism. The knowledge here is slanted, divisive, toxic and designed for conflict.
You would think that people would ignore the media and discuss this issue amongst themselves. But as I spoke about earlier in another blog entry, people are afraid to talk politics/religion with each other. And many times people in this country have become so radicalized, that just introducing either the white privilege argument or black crime argument will get you socially nuked. Social media, at first freeing, is now a prison with the extremist inmates running the asylum. Anyone who disagrees will get singled out and dogged until people are afraid to be associated with the person who disagreed. This is bad for your social life, mental health, and job prospects. So people end up being forced to stay silent. Which means people will take this information and bury it inside themselves where it will fester and eat them alive. I think you’re starting to see the reasoning for this blog post today.
Now for me, writing a blog where my name isn’t attached is a really helpful way to unload this pain inside of me. No personal blowback. Even if i was posting with my real name, I’m aware that my small blog is barely noticeable larger national discussion. This knowledge should also be crippling to me. However, I have solutions for all of this and I’ll explain how Masonry works within it.
Masonry is a knowledge based society, and yet Masonry is also a God centric society. And they must exist together for the Masonic journey to even work.
Belief in God is a requirement to be a Mason, and while this might seem like a relic of the past, I would argue that it is the foundation of how we approach knowledge.
Going back, we know is that the world is fucked up. And what we also know is that The Great Architect exists, watches over us and we should look to him for aid in all of our endeavors. This is all brought together by the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL) being one of the three lights of Masonry. My VSL is the Christian Bible.
Masonry acknowledges the foundational importance of a codified theistic moral system because of how important morality is in our journey processing knowledge. For many, knowing just how unequal the world is would be something that would make even the most sane of minds lose all grasp of reality. However, anchoring onto God helps us in a few aspects and I’ll play the other side of the coin first to clarify what this means.
Other Side of the Coin: An non-theist might say we should hate God for making the world unequal.
Actually, look at it this way. God is watching over us and loves us. Every VSL has this same consistent theme to it. God loves us. We can then surmise that a God who loves us does not want to see us fail, but to succeed.
Other Side of the Coin: Again we might ask ourselves, why is the system shitty in the first place? Why would God do this to us?
Well because it’s our fault. In the Christian religion Adam and Eve break their relationship with God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge and are cast out of Eden. However we realize something here, we have free will. God said not to do this. But we exercised our free will anyways and did it. We have a choice, the ability to choose the life we want to live. We have the power.
Other Side of the Coin: You might be pissed at God for throwing us out of paradise.
But if your boss tells you not to sleep on the job and you sleep on the jog, you’ll get fucking fired. If your wife tells you not to cheat on her and you cheat on her, she’ll divorce you. God and the humans had a deal, and the humans broke it. That’s life.
Other Side of the Coin: Now since it’s our fault, we might wear this knowledge like a weight on our backs.
Nope, my VSL says otherwise. Because Jesus died, we are forgiven. BOOM! We’re free! Alright, now that we’re free, what do we do? Well Biblically it says that we must now go out and right the wrongs of this world. Help those in need. Spread the good word. Spread the good word? I’m going to put on my Mason hat here and say we’re not talking in just the purely evangelizing sense. Actually I’m talking about going out to people and telling them that there is a better way all types of ways. Proselytizing isn’t just the domain of religion, it’s the domain of all ideas. It’s our mission to go out and spread knowledge to each other to make the world a better place. It’s our mission to hit the streets, Facebook, parties and whatever to inform each other of better ways of doing things. The world is fucked…but we’re gonna spread ideas to make the world whole again.
God also gives us another life. For many people, they are born crippled, weak, and helpless. Many are forced to live in a would with an inequality that they cannot fix. This understanding should be maddening, but knowing that there is a coming eternal life that puts things in context. The idea that I can’t fix the wrongs of my life might make me feel helpless, but knowing that death leads to an eternal perfection in Heaven is freeing. I’m not a prisoner of the system anymore. I’m just here temporarily. We’re gonna be ok.
Now the concept of the afterlife ties into this third part. And that is how people will be able to eventually escape death and also how they deal with the moral teachings of their respective religions. The two major criticisms of religion are A: Religion is the opiate of the people. And B: That religion radicalizes people. The anti-religious will frequently throw these statements at the religious, oblivious to the ironic contradictory nature of them. But I think we can all agree that religion does both. And there are legitimate criticisms to be made here. But there is also glorious opportunity.
Religion can be used to keep people from being a state of conflict with each other. Sacrifice, universal unconditional love, and driven charity are all things that make for a more structured, improved and harmonious society. And yet when it comes time to unify and push people to fight against what is wrong, religion is a wonderful force to push people to fight harder and be more unified to break injustice. The Declaration of Independence was founded on the belief that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. And that religious zeal was what drove the American Patriots through brick walls to defeat the most powerful empire in the world, the British Empire. We as Masons know the power of God to heal our wounds, do the impossible and to unite us together in all the different stations of life to create a more perfect world.
Masonry doesn’t just have you believe in God, join and call it a day. Masonry also teaches moral lesses that the ancient builders of history used to create structures that stood the test of time. To do that, Masonry needed to create a psychological system designed to bring those builders together to become the best builders they could be.
As I discussed before, Masonry is a knowledge based society. The search for Truth is a core part of our system. But Masonry doesn’t work on Truth alone. There are two others.
Relief: Charity for others and mutual aid of fellow Masons
Brotherly Love: Love for each other and all of mankind.
Masonry recognizes that Truth alone not the only way to approach things, but it exists in the context of Relief and Brotherly Love. Now what does that specifically mean? Because Masonry works in an interpretive system, we are all called to understand Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth in our own ways. Again, this is why the VSL is a key part of the system because that is where a great deal of the interpretations are clarified for the individual Mason.
Truth is actually different then knowledge. You have a piece of knowledge, but what does it mean in the larger context? Knowledge itself is many times taken without context or misunderstood entirely! Truth is bringing all the knowledge together and understanding it in it’s fullest context. Looking at all that knowledge that I provided above about problems in America, you would think the US is about to take a trip to catastrophe. But the Truth is we’ve always been dealing with bullshit. We had The Civil War, WWII, Genocide, Slavery, Anti-Catholicism, major wealth inequality, race wars, women’s rights battles, etc. We’ve always had shit and many times it’s been far worse then what we’ve dealt with now. But I argue this conflict we have between each other will never truly end. The Truth is life is never going to be equal.
Height is more favorable, right? Well men on average will always be taller then women, and there will be a whole host of psychological, sociological, economic, sexual, political and moral ripple effects from this. There are some inequalities you can’t change. We will always have inequality, whether we like it or not.
Relief tells us it’s our duty to fix this. Now I said you can’t chance certain things, but we can damn well try! God can do the impossible and maybe we can do the impossible here too. I believe that God has given us a way to create a society of salvation, so let’s try and get it to become that way. Truth gets us the appropriate understanding of the knowledge we have, and relief is the action that we take after attaining Truth. We have a duty to take action. We have a duty to help those in distress. Whether part of our Masonic family, or the world at large. We help those who suffer in large ways and in their own small ways.
And lastly, Brotherly Love. It’s not just Love alone, it’s Brotherly Love. For if someone is to just Love, they may end up interpreting it into just loving themselves or loving materialism and the like. NO! It’s an external Love that revolves around humans. It’s not just Love for our fellow Brother Masons, but Love for our world family. You might think that only family blood or Masonry is what makes someone a Brother. NO! God tells us that we are part of a worldwide family and everyone is a Brother, man or woman. This Brotherly Love is a key third part because Truth and Relief alone aren’t enough. Adolf Hitler, seeing the Truth that Communism was toppling governments and wanting the Relieve the suffering of the German people, took action by exterminating the Communists. NO! If you love your world family, you would never even think for a second to do this. If you Love people, that Love will help guide you as you search for the Truth and put your Relief into action.
In conclusion, for many people in America they live in a prison of knowledge, all too aware of the soul crushing flaws within the system. So remember this, God loves you, will be there to protect you and will eventually join you in salvation in the next life. You will be ok. So while we’re here on earth, continue to learn, continue to take action to fix the problems of society and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Your actions may seem small, but each brick within a structure seems small as well. But after you stack enough bricks, soon you will create something great! Take this knowledge and go out and build a better self and a better society.