This is an article written by Right Worshipful Brother RJ Johnson, a good friend and Brother of mine. He was looking for a medium to post this, the reasoning why should become apparent as you read what he has to say. His statement in no way represents any Grand Lodge in an official capacity.
The horrific events of the last few weeks which began with the murder of George Floyd have been difficult. It has amplified the emotions of people everywhere. The solidarity movements throughout social media and in-person as people of all races and colors come together to protest for a change in America are inspiring.
As Freemasons, we do stand for a number of great things and chief among them are our virtues of equality amongst men. Although there still exists systemic racism in America, we as Freemasons, work to fight it. We do it by the way we act and the virtues we espouse in our daily lives.
Every day social media is filled with countless posts by organizations that promote our values. “We make good men better.”, “Not just a man, a Mason.”. “Masons donate so much money to…” Boy, that’s some good PR, isn’t it?
Recently, hand-hand, both Grand Masters of Washington D.C. made a joint statement. You can read it HERE. This act was followed by several Prince Hall Grand Lodges and more recently, the joint statement by the Regular and PHA Grand Lodges of North Carolina, These statements were beautifully crafted. They exemplified unity at a time of much civil unrest.
I’ve seen many posts asking if their Grand Lodge will also be making a statement. Men want it. And just like clockwork, someone chimes in with, “Actions speak louder than words. We don’t need a statement. It only feeds the fire.” Or something to this effect. And this is the point of this article. Those who would say that to make a statement is hurting anything — well Brother, all it’s hurting is the thing we’re fighting.
Why would you not want to say something? The answers are not as complicated as some might make it out to be.
- That by making a statement, we would need to stand by it. We’re creating accountability. That’s right. That’s the idea.
- Being a member of an organization that has made a statement puts you in an odd place with friends and family who may be or hold onto racist ideals. Perhaps it’s time to confront those folks and leave them behind.
- Perhaps making a statement solidifies the reality of a situation to which you don’t feel or didn’t want to admit was real. It is real — and you’re a grown-up. It’s time to act like it.
- Maybe making a statement feels political — something Freemasonry isn’t supposed to touch. Well, human rights are not political — they’re human rights. (Further reading — The Problem with Banning Politics and Religion )
This is not the be-all-end-all list, but it’s a start. There may be readers who feel that this writer is being rude, accusatory, and flagrant. I can assure you, I’m saying this as politely as I can. It’s important to be on the right side of history. Freemasonry has in almost all cases succeeded in this. It’s our nature. How better are our good men if they can’t stand for the good of humanity?
On Saturday, June 6th, 2020 the Refracted Light Facebook group held a panel discussion called “Being the Light”, in which a Past Grand Master of Washington D.C., two sitting Grand Masters (Regular and PHA) of North Carolina, and half dozen equally qualified men talked about the present issue. IT WAS IMPORTANT. I urge you to watch it or listen to it.
The vast majority of Freemasons the world over are working in the quarries to make this world better for all humanity. Make no mistake, there are others who are not — even those who may be against these things. For example, when a black man is asked to leave a meeting because his “brothers” are uncomfortable with him sitting in a lodge with them — yes this happens — a lot. Or when a specific book is written, shedding light on this issue within our Craft, and the publisher drops it because “If we publish this, we can’t put up shops at any Grand Lodge sessions in any state.” Yes, that happened too.
Maybe instead of “virtue signaling” our mission to make good men better or how much we do for charity, we signal something else — that we live and stand by our values. If we don’t, “More than a man, a Mason”, won’t mean a heap of beans.
Philosophy is at the core of what RWB:. Robert Johnson is after. Having grown up in Italy and being exposed to the culture and much of the renaissance art and literature, Freemasonry became a natural place for him to gravitate toward. He is an avid musician and writer. He’s written for several print magazines and blogs on subjects ranging from Firearms and Medical Ethics to Theology and Comparative Religions. Robert’s primary studies are in philosophy and mathematics. Currently he is pursuing additional studies for an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Data Analytics. He also holds an honorary Doctorate Degree in Philosophy in Religion. Robert works as an executive in the medical industry. He received his degrees from Waukegan Lodge №78, becoming Worshipful Master in 2014. He’s since served as both a District Education Officer and a District Deputy Grand Master. He is currently serving on the Grand Lodge of Illinois Education Committee and is secretary of Spes Novum Lodge №1183, the Premier Education Lodge in Illinois. He produces the weekly Masonic Podcast Whence Came You?, and is a regular co-host of The Masonic Roundtable.