The Fear Factor

by Jason Eddy

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a lot that can be taken from this quote.  I think its relevance can be found in almost every aspect of our lives.  We are all, at some level and at all times, fighting some sort of battle with the universe.  This can range from playtime to politics to religious intolerance.  Whether we are the victim or simply a bystander of a given situation, we are at a certain level obligated to assist those in need of assistance, are we not?  If we choose not to help those in need, what compels us to make that choice?  I would suggest that in all situations the driving factor in this decision is fear.  Fear of failure, fear of retaliation, fear of the unknown.  Fear.

This particular quote came to mind recently in a discussion around some of the apparent contradictions that are alive and well within our Gentle Craft.  Though there are many to choose from, for the sake of this article I will use the following example.  Racism within Masonry.  Now before the passions ramp up and Brethren begin to potentially move beyond that circle within which we seek to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds, I will clarify.  I am not referring specifically to recognition of Prince Hall Masonry.  While I believe that there is a great deal of racism to be found within the “logic” used to support the lack of recognition in many jurisdictions, I am also not naive to the many other valid reasons that prevent recognition between Grand Lodges.  So to the example being discussed.  Racism.

How many reading this are aware of Lodges, or even members of a Lodge where racism is alive and well?  Personally, I am aware of at least two Lodges that I have actually sat in that would most likely not even consider allowing a black man to sit in Lodge, let alone petition.  How does this fit with Masonry?  I can’t help but immediately recall what we (in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio) are taught with respect to Brotherly Love.  “By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to view the whole human species as one family.  The high, the low, the rich, the poor.  Who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other.”  Not only does this not support the idea of racism, but it directly contradicts racism.  Yet it is not at all uncommon to see or hear things within the Lodge that violate this tenet. But alas, this article is not about Racism.  It is about fear.

I digress.  Those who have encountered behavior contrary to our core tenets have, at the moment of this encounter, all been faced with a choice.   They have had to make a decision to either look the other way, or to stand up for what they know to be right in the face of adversity.   Again, I would posit that fear is the deciding factor here.  As this article is about fear, it should be clear to the reader that the focus is on those who choose to look the other way.  Let us ask why a Mason would allow un-Masonic behavior to occur without speaking up.  Perhaps he feels outnumbered.  Perhaps he is afraid that he is the only person present that sees an issue and doesn’t have the courage to stand alone.  Perhaps the person exhibiting the behavior is at a perceived “higher level” than he is at and he fears retribution.  Perhaps it is a sitting Worshipful Master, District Deputy, or even a member of the Grand Line!  After all, he could potentially be singled out and pushed out of Lodge or even Masonry!  The question becomes this:  Would it matter?

If a man truly believes in Masonry and its tenets, if he truly believes in things like Brotherly Love and takes his obligations seriously, should he not stand up in the face of everything that goes against it?  But what if he is expelled?  Ask yourself this:  If you are not able to stand up to those who preach (though may not practice) what you believe to be right, how can you ever be expected to stand up to it as a member of the profane society?  Do you really want to be a part of something that violates what you know to be true?  I would suggest that the answer to this is, or should be, a resounding “no”.

The good news is this Brethren.  As Brother Franklin Roosevelt once famously said: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!”  Light will always prevail over darkness.  Though the short-term results might suggest otherwise, I would contend that there are more among us who seek to proliferate ALL of the values and tenets inculcated within our ritual than not.  As I have stated in the past (though I am sure that the saying did not originate with me), it takes more than a dues card to make a Mason.  Do not allow the Light of Masonry to be diminished by those who would have you fear expulsion from our Order, or even isolation within it should you disagree with them.  I am writing this article for two reasons.  First and foremost, to remind those who believe in Masonry that you are in the majority (though often a silent majority at that).  Secondly as a warning to those who seek to allow ignorance and darkness to proliferate through our Noble Order.  Do not question the resolve of those who seek to cast the Light of Masonry wherever darkness is found.  No title, rank, or perceived majority of men who seek to violate the tenets of our Order have the power to overcome our resolve.  Masonry has stood the test of time and though often veiled, even to those within its ranks, its purity and goodness remains intact.  Live Masonry, Brethren.  If you cannot find the courage within yourself, look to you Brothers for support.  We will not fail you in your endeavor.  We will support you in any way that we can.  We will stand with you as you face off against ignorance.  We will be in its purest form….a Brother.

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