Challenges Of The 21st Century

By Worshipful Brother Frederic L. Milliken

If We Are To Grow and if we are to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry

Have you talked to today’s generation lately?

I am referring to someone who was born say in 1990. Have you noticed what kind of values they hold, their idealism, what they will not put up with, how they communicate? Do they seem to hold a higher level of tolerance and a much less judgmental attitude from their fathers and grandfathers?

Here is an article from 1988. The bold section has been added by this writer.

The Bee Hive is indebted to Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson for another great article. Brother Anderson operates a weekly Masonic Newsletter. Each Sunday he sends out a new article.

To get on Brother Anderson’s list, at no cost, E-Mail him at wda_572@sympatico.ca

DEALING WITH OUR MASONIC DESTINATIONS
by Francis G. Paul Sovereign Grand Commander
AASR Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
THE NORTHERN LIGHT November 1988

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see,” someone wrote, “when you take your eyes off your goals.”

One of the best, most efficient ways to stay where you are or even go backward is to focus on the obstacles. They are the distractions that keep us from becoming the best we can – both personally and as a fraternity.

When you and I take a risk, we test ourselves. When we decide to solve a problem, we face the possibility of failure. When we step out to break new ground, we know the voices of the critics will be raised. Safety is certain, at least for awhile, if we do nothing.

Yet, Masonry teaches us to be dissatisfied – discontent – with the status quo. Freemasonry challenges us to reach for the ideals of justice, brotherly love, and improvement – individually and as a fraternity.

In its annual report to the Supreme Council in September, the Committee on the General State of the Rite broke new ground. While applauding our many successes, the committee urges us to set our eyes on our destinations, our goals.

Race and ethnic groups. “This committee carefully searched our constitutions and ritual,” the report reads, “finding nothing to indicate that we should deprive membership in our fraternity to any man because of race, color or creed.” Pointing out that this is indeed a difficult subject, yet it is one “that has been avoided for too many years.”

The report continues, “It is the committee’s opinion that unadmitted, residual racial bias hurts us, sapping our strength, and depriving us of men with strong leadership ability.”

Although long overdue, the Supreme Council has elected the first black member to receive the 33rd degree at our next annual meeting. “In today’s society, we can no longer ‘stone-wall’ this vital issue if we really intend to practice what we preach – brotherly love – in this wonderful nation of people with many and diverse origins,” states the committee report.

Sovereignty of the Grand Lodges. Noting that the framers of our U.S. Constitution recognized that the survival of the young nation depended on a balance of authority between the individual states and a federal government, the committee indicates that “there is a lesson to be learned” for our fraternity.

The committee has stepped forward with a call for “some central governance group – a policy-setting body with executive power to provide cohesive, coordinated management of the total Masonic fraternity.”

If we are to grow and if we are to meet the challenges of today and those of the 21st century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry.

Penalties of the obligations and balloting. “It is becoming increasingly apparent that thinking candidates are having trouble giving honest assent to the current penalties contained in the obligations,” reports the committee. “Oaths required deal with ‘ancient’ penalties which are obsolete, unbelievable, unacceptable and simply not relevant in today’s society.”

Oaths taken anywhere on a Bible are not “symbolic.” Our credibility as a fraternity suffers when we attempt to “explain away” our ancient Masonic penalties. As a result, the committee urges all Bodies of Freemasonry to commence an “orderly rewrite and substitution of the onerous penalties in the various obligations of our order. “

Finally, the committee addressed the balloting issue. “With our prevailing procedures of admitting new members only by unanimous, favorable ballot, we leave too much room for private pique and spite, all of which serves to deny true liberty and justice.” In order to rectify this situation, the committee has called for the Supreme Council to amend its Constitutions to require three negative votes to reject a candidate for all of our degrees, and urges all Masonic Bodies to give this suggestion immediate attention.”

For men whose eyes are on the goals, there are no obstacles, just opportunities to lead the way. The committee report received a standing ovation. Evidently, we are ready to move forward.

We may never achieve perfection, but we can find more perfect ways for justice, brotherly love, and improvement to prevail in Freemasonry – and the world. When you think about it, the only frightful obstacle is our unwillingness to act on our Masonic ideals.

Wayne Anderson, FCF, MPS
Alle Menschen Werden Brueder
2B1 ASK1

If Freemasonry is to gain wide acceptance among the current generation and the next it needs to do two important things.

  1. Communicate using today’s technology
  2. Have the same purpose, values, virtues and principles throughout the entire nation

Today’s high tech generation living in the highly mobile society of the Information Age is no longer grounded in one state. The days of a family tracing back its ancestry to the same town in the same state are long gone. The days of the Moon Lodge and most Freemasons walking to Lodge are also extinct. Today’s American thinks country not state moving many times to different regions of America.

Today’s generation and future generations will not join Freemasonry if there is a segment that discriminates against African Americans or turns its nose up to non Christians or shuns the foreign born-foreign speaking.

THE IDEALS OF FREEMASONRY ARE UNIVERSAL BUT THE AMERICAN PRACTICE IS PAROCHIAL.

The words of Sovereign Grand Commander Paul 34 years ago are here reiterated:

The committee has stepped forward with a call for “some central governance group – a policy-setting body with executive power to provide cohesive, coordinated management of the total Masonic fraternity.”

If we are to grow and if we are to meet the challenges of today and those of the 21st century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry.

The South did not become integrated by leaving it up to the states. Federal enforcement became necessary. If Freemasonry is to meet the expectations of the current and future generations it must put a stop to racial discrimination, expulsions without a good reason and without a Masonic trial, overbearing Grand Lodge mandates, requirements that exclude, overly moralistic prohibitions against alcohol, gambling and independent Masonic thought & expression and intrusions into the private lives of individuals.

American Freemasonry must think American, be American and in the process insist that certain basic requirements and practices are met everywhere, otherwise the practice ceases to be Freemasonry. We must have a national approach to Freemasonry as Paul suggests. American Freemasonry needs to be Universally American not Parochial. The parts of American Freemasonry that do not live up to Freemasonry’s ideals cannot be allowed to drag down the reputation of the good parts that practice true Universal Freemasonry.

We have allowed 51 fiefdoms, under the tradition of non interference into another jurisdiction’s affairs, to corrupt Freemasonry in some quarters thereby resulting in versions of Freemasonry that are no longer Freemasonry. They call themselves Freemasonry but they have so distorted the basic principles of the Craft as to be actually practicing some sort of heresy.

To that end some sort of national enforcement is necessary. The bureaucracy of a National Grand Lodge would be fraught with the same cronyism and ineptitude that is indicative of many jurisdictions. The vehicle of enforcement is already in place, The conference of Grand Masters. This Conference could, insisting on a two thirds majority, codify basic cornerstones of American Masonic beliefs and practices. This would not interfere with the sovereignty of each state jurisdiction. The affairs of state would be administered by the individual states. But the overall cornerstone upon which the rest of American Freemasonry rests would now be the same from state to state.

Those jurisdictions who refused to comply with the two thirds rulings of The Conference of Grand Masters, remembering here we are only talking about basic cornerstone beliefs and practices, would be declared clandestine and Recognition of them would be removed. There would then be only one version of Freemasonry in the United States, American Freemasonry, governed by 51 jurisdictions.

American Freemasonry needs to liberate itself from the confines of CONTROLLED THOUGHT AND ABUSIVE POWER. It must police itself before it turns off future prospects who will look upon the corruptions of Freemasonry with disgust.

         

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