After yesterday’s ‘standing up for what I believe in’ blog, I find myself in a softer place today. The idea that racism and Freemasonry might be compatible is crazy and hateful but thinking about it has left me fondly remembering days when we made a stand to show just how powerful Masonry can be as a force for positive change.
A year or so after my Initiation in Nairobi, I joined a second Lodge – under the Scottish Constitution. It was founded in 1906, I think, or around then…and, if we’re honest, I suspect that there was a time in its colonial past when it had been exclusively populated by what was then a white-only elite. But the point is that it had moved on, and during the time when I visited and later joined we were honoured to serve under the first Sikh to occupy the Master’s Chair and then the first Muslim. I remember how proud I felt when, during Ramadan, the Lodge was called off so that Mansur could break his fast and then called back on so we could complete the evening’s labour. It doesn’t sound like much, I know, but we were all conscious of the fact that we were making a stand for something that was important: an understanding and a recognition that we can all be Brothers without any of us having to lose or dilute his sense of self and without having to abandon or dilute his values.
When the Lodge room was set up in Nairobi, the Bible was not the only book that occupied the pedestal. Because of the history of the individual Lodges and the Bible-based nature of many of the Masonic stories, the Bible was often pre-eminent and it was on the Bible that the Square and Compasses rested; but other books were there too, other Volumes of Sacred Law: The Quran, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Guru Granth Sahib all had a place and a candidate took his obligations on whichever one was Holy to him.
When I watch the news sometimes, or when I see how events and the media and groups and individuals try to stir up hatred, hoping to set us against each other as if we were not all human and all part of one great family, I remember those times and those gentle, loving people and I know that I will not be fooled.
So, is Freemasonry relevant in today’s world? Has it anything to offer us? Can it help to promote peace? Understanding? Tolerance? Love?
I think so…what about you?