VWB Cameron M. Bailey
Deputy of the Grand Master District 17 F&AM of Washington
Like you, I knelt before the Altar of God and while there I made a Sacred and Solemn vow. I vowed to hasten to the relief of any Freemason who gave a certain sign or uttered certain words. This vow wasn’t limited by the length of my Cable Tow, or by any other factor beyond my own probable death. I, like you, am given no choice but to respond. Doing so is my most Sacred duty as a Freemason.
Well, in all my years in Freemasonry, I’ve never seen that sign given, nor heard those words uttered, except during a Degree, or when practicing for one.
I did however hear them spoken this past week though. On national television. I imagine that all of you have heard them by now too.
It was a plea, from a Brother, begging for Brotherhood.
I knew, instantly, that we must, collectively and as individuals respond.
I didn’t however, know how to do so, and in everything I was able to read about it, I saw that clearly everyone else was as confused about how we could respond as I was. Clearly, we as Freemasons want to rush to our Brothers aid, but we don’t know how.
I have given this a tremendous amount of thought since hearing those words, and I hope that my thoughts are valuable to you.
What we know is that the Brother in question is from a legitimate and Recognized Grand Lodge. His claim upon us is valid. What I don’t know, is what his particular rank may be. I’ve heard everything from DDGM to PGM. For purposes of this newsletter, I’ll refer to him as Brother. Not to offend, but simply out of my own ignorance as to what his full title might be.
Beyond that, I think I should point out that my Obligation, our Obligation to him is the same, it matters not if he is his Jurisdiction’s newest Master Mason, or their Grand Master.
This Brothers utterance of those specific words are in many ways like “A Shot Heard Round The World.” Freemasons everywhere, Freemasonry as a whole, will either heed his plea with real action, or we will prove that our declining numbers and influence has rendered our Fraternity ineffective and powerless.
Our Brother has given us an extreme challenge.
It is however a challenge that Freemasonry is uniquely suited to answer. This Brothers plea was against hatred, intolerance, and violence. As the only organization in the world that seeks to unite all men into a single Brotherhood, irrespective of national origin, political creed, religious belief, color, and all other manufactured divisions, Freemasonry can stand against hatred and violence. Freemasonry can and does teach the Brotherhood Of Man, Under The Fatherhood Of God. Currently we teach this doctrine of Light to ourselves, now we must teach it to the wider world as well.
It is this teaching that makes Freemasonry, in the words of Albert Pike, “The Great Peace Society In The World.”
To head this Brothers plea, his plea that we all reach out and hold each other with the S.:G.: of the L.:P.: we must take action. Serious action.
In my view, the first thing we must do, as Freemasons, is expunge racism from within our own ranks. I am proud to be a member of the very first Grand Lodge in this nation to recognize the truth that a man of color can be a Freemason. That action taken by our Grand Lodge so long ago didn’t hold, but we can be proud that our Grand Lodge tried.
I am also however ashamed that there still exist a small handful of United States Grand Lodges that practice racism, and prove that they do so by their refusal to recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry.
Racism is the real reason that some Grand Lodges don’t recognize Prince Hall. It has nothing whatsoever to do with nonsensical notions such as Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction that isn’t even practiced in other countries. Ignorance fuels racism and an institution that teaches the importance of Knowledge, Learning, and Light can not allow such ignorance to exist within our ranks.
It is my sincere hope, that much sooner than later, Grand Lodges around the world take steps to no longer Recognize that handful of Grand Lodges in the United States that refuse to recognize Prince Hall as Legitimate Freemasonry.
Those Grand Loges should not be Recognized as practicing Legitimate Freemasonry, because they are not in actuality doing so. Any Grand Lodge that refuses to take an otherwise fully qualified Brother by the hand of Brotherhood because of his racial origins is not practicing Freemasonry.
If we do not purge these rogue Grand Lodges from our ranks, the rest of us will someday soon loose any legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and eventually our own membership.
If current Standards of Recognition will not allow racist Grand Lodges within the United States to be purged from the rolls of those that are Recognized, then the Standards must be changed.
Secondly, we must, each of us, as individual Freemasons, tone down our political rhetoric.
I do not care what side of the political fence you are on. It is not proper, or Masonic to refer to the President of the United States as a Traitor. To refer to the Republican nominee as a Lunatic, or the Democratic nominee as a Bitch.
Those insane and radical comments do nothing but fuel the division this nation is suffering under, and that division is what is driving the violence we see every day. Not all young black men are thugs. Not all police officers are racists. Not all Trump supporters hate people from Mexico, and not all Clinton supporters excuse criminal activity. In fact, in all of these cases, only a tiny minority are or do.
You would never know it from the rhetoric. The rhetoric paints everything, and everyone with a single broad brush. Those who repeat such rhetoric, as if it were fact, do nothing but proclaim their own ignorance to the world.
As Freemason’s, let’s not do that. If we have done it, let’s stop. If we haven’t, let’s make sure that we don’t start. Let us recognize that the overwhelming majority of people, on the Right and on the Left are good people who want nothing more but a better future for their children.
Let us also be smart enough to recognize that artificial divisions within our society are extremely profitable for our political class. You can trust me on this, I am after all a member of that political class, I understand how it works.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is, political groups just want to divide society into two halves. They manufacture an issue, get folks all outraged about it, and then raise shockingly huge sums of money to ‘fight’ whatever it may be.
Take the ‘transgender bathroom issue’ that was such a hot topic earlier this year. It wasn’t a real issue, I assure you that transgender folks have been using the bathroom that matches their appearance for decades and decades. All of the sudden though, it was an ISSUE, there was OUTRAGE, and millions upon millions of dollars were raised by both sides so that they could ‘fight’ to ‘protect’ whatever side one happened to be on.
These nonsensical ‘issues’ are created by the political class, simply to create outrage, because that translates to dollars. Those who create these ‘issues’ don’t see folks who give them money as people to protect, they see them as pawns.
Don’t be a pawn, and don’t post hateful rhetoric that divides our nation and our world when we should be working to unite it.
Freemasonry teaches the Brotherhood of Man, Under the Fatherhood of God. By doing so it unites men of every nation, every political affiliation, every religious belief.
Let us, as individual Freemasons stand against division and against violence. Let us stand for Brotherhood and unity.
Our individual stand might not be very powerful, but our families and our friends may learn from our example, and may start to stand with us as well.
Even more importantly, if millions upon millions of Freemasons all stand together, stand against violence in all its forms, stand for peace, stand in opposition to discord and for unity. We will, as a Fraternity make a difference.
We will have heeded our Brother’s call.
VWB Cameron M. Bailey
Deputy of the Grand Master District 17 F&AM of Washington