Don’t Apologize, Rekindle the Magic in Your Heart

by WB Steve Osborn

I am very distressed at what is going on currently. The whole world is being bullied, not only by the political right, but by the religious right of all faiths (except perhaps Buddhism). Bullies are not necessarily the strongest or the smartest, but they, by their assertiveness, seem to con people into thinking they are. Witness Hitler, who by bullying tactics and charisma, convinced the world that he was much more powerful than he actually was. The world made concessions to him until he almost was as powerful as he thought he was. It took the lives of almost a generation to correct that error. Now we have the various religious rights making us run scared. Freemasonry is one of the targets of the religious right. In Islam, a handful of Imams and Ayatollahs take their narrow minded prejudices and fears, and use a very small part of the Holy Koran to justify what the Koran absolutely forbids. It forbids making offensive war, it forbids war on women, children, the weak and defenseless, and the elderly. It forbids forcible conversion, and says to live in peace with "People of the Book," i.e., Jews and Christians, who share a common religious heritage with Islam. In the West, we have our own religious right with their narrow view of Christianity. They watch and preach against anything they do not understand and watch for words and thoughts that do not agree with their narrow doctrines, then seek to destroy it. They, too, use a small part of the Old Testament to justify hatred, bigotry, cruelty and despotism of the mind, ignoring the Golden Rule, taught by Christ, and perhaps the most important teaching to be found in any religion. It both saddens and angers me to see articles saying we Masons must watch our tongues and our writing. We must not use words or phrases from our ancient heritage and ritual, lest it offend one of these alleged clerics. We do not need to defend ourselves. We know who we are and what our ancient order stands for. Many know the reasons for our ritual and the importance of retaining it unchanged. Yet our Temples are already become Halls and our Temple Boards are now Hall Associations. Even the name on the front of the buildings is changed in many cases, "So as not to offend anyone or give them the wrong idea." True, we are not a Religion, but we are religious in the finest sense of the word, with tolerance and love for all beliefs and creeds. We can trace our physical heritage back to the 1600's, but our philosophical heritage goes back thousands of years and encompasses the world, as far back as men began to wonder and to band together as brothers, seeking to improve themselves and gain more light and insight. This should be a source of pride to us, yet we hear more and more that we should hide our light under a bushel and show the folks we're just regular guys, helping out around the town. To be anything else would perhaps cause people to question us. We should not mention the “Mystic Tie.” If we don't, perhaps it will go away and nobody need be worried and those that come after us will never know or care, but we will be politically correct and no one will be offended. And we will have lost what has made our Fraternity such a positive influence on the world. The Masonic Fraternity is an ancient and respected order. It and its concordant bodies do an enormous amount of good throughout the world. Study of its ritual and philosophy elevates the mind and bring us into accord with our Brethren wherever they may be. Masons help Masons and non-Masons alike, rarely claiming credit, but simply doing what their obligation and their instincts tell them to do. Freemasonry is found everywhere that men believe in a God. We do not tell a man what he must think, or in what form he must worship. When he steps into the Lodge and the Tyler closes the door, all are equal, with no contention save perhaps who can best work and best agree. He leaves the Lodge stronger and more steadfast of purpose to make a better world for his Brethren and for his fellow man. For this, he need make no apology to anyone, least of all those whose idea of freedom is freedom to believe the way they do, in the form they do, or be cast out. Sadly, the religious right in this country has become just as bad as the Ayatollahs and the Taliban that they excoriate. They simply do not have the means to carry out their desires, save by intimidation and propaganda. Fortunately the days of Torquemada and the Holy Inquisition have passed. As Masons, we take great pride in the Universality of our Brotherhood. Most of us seldom travel in foreign countries, but we know we may meet brothers, wherever we travel. A beautiful example of this Universality was recorded in the Massachusetts Grand Lodge Publication, Trowel, in the August 1983 issue. The incident recorded was a visit of the Grand Master and company to the Grand Lodge of Japan and to Sinim Lodge, Tokyo. "The Fellow Craft degree was conferred upon a Sinim Lodge candidate by Worshipful Richard L. Hein in the absence of the Master. The Senior Warden assumed the east for the degree work. Truly international in many ways, the officers and their national origin follow: "Master, Keith L. Hagar, United States; Senior Warden, Chandanmal P. Nandwani, India; Junior Warden, Sanya Suzuki, Japan; Secretary, Chikara Sekine, Japan; Chaplain, Robert V. Braddock, United States; Marshal, Andre R. LeCompte, France; Senior Deacon, George Horvath, Australia; Junior Deacon, Bulent Payaslioglu, Turkey; Senior Steward, Saburo Matsui, Japan; Junior Steward, Hiroshi Miyaoka, Japan; Inside Sentinel, Kohji F. Shirosaki, United States; Tyler, Frederick Harris, United States. The candidate was an Englishman. On the altar, in addition to our three great lights, were the Veda (holy book of the Hindu sect), The Koran (Islam), the Torah (Jewish) and the Tripitaka of the Buddhists. Masons from six other grand jurisdictions attended." Could there be a more perfect example of what our Order stands for? That reflects my beliefs and is why I feel so strongly about this issue. I have spent much of my life seeking ever more light, and shall continue until I pass on to "that undiscovered country..." And it is why I feel that neither I, nor any Mason, owes anybody an apology.

(Originally printed in the Washington Masonic Tribune, 2002)