Diversity of Thought

How Freemasonry encourages collaboration and the exchange of personal viewpoints

Freemasonry is a social activity. I am a member of a Puerto Rican Lodge. I could seldom visit, so I joined the Liverpool Lodge. Then, I felt a need to meet District Brothers from other Lodges. I joined the District Deputy Grand Master’s family, visiting all Lodges in my District, and participating in Master Wardens and Deacons (MWD) Bimonthly Meetings, where I met and befriended many Brothers more. I then joined the Scottish Rite, where I befriended even more Brethren, from Masonic Districts adjacent to Onondaga.

My objective was much more than just social. The interaction with so many Brothers helped me grow Masonically, and provided many new ideas, some of which I have aired in this column.

Associations have at least two values: first, to fulfill the purpose for which they were created; then to put people in contact. MWD’s were created to help District Lodges coordinate their work and instruct leaders about issues of importance and concern to our Institution. Collaborating and exchanging views and information with others expands old ideas, fosters new ones and develops efficient ways to enhance joint programs. These are, possibly, MWDs most powerful functions.

Currently, our country is extensively divided on several central issues. The level of discord has become toxic. The Media is similarly divided into partisan lines; audiences join those outlets that reinforce their views. Organizations, where both sides of an issue are examined with balance and moderation are rare. Partisan deliberations of commentators and analysts, exacerbate things.

We believe Freemasonry can contribute two key components to help diffuse tension. First, it can provide information about the topics in question. Secondly, and perhaps more important yet, to examine them in a Tolerant atmosphere, showing that one can respectfully and fairly disagree on any subject. In these difficult times, this would be a great contribution to reduce friction.

Let’s provide an illustrative example: the voting system controversy. What is it? What does it pursue? What are its limitations? What alternative voting systems are there? Many discrepancies stem from a lack of basic understanding or of knowledge, of key facts involved in the problem.

This Mentor, strives to fulfill Love of Country and Service to Humanity obligations, while keeping Freemasonry’s rule not to conduct partisan politics. We believe that such can be achieved by carefully examining challenging elements of a conflicting issue, that often create tension among the contenders, without taking sides in the dispute.

For example, we can organize a panel with two Brothers that support one point of view, and two that support another one, plus a Moderator. Then we open the debate to the public. To attain success, the project needs Brothers from different District Lodges to help with event attendance and advertisement. Said project would first need to be discussed and planned in the MWDs.

What would Freemasonry gain from all this? People would notice our efforts to help lower the toxic levels of partisan disagreements, thus gaining in public appreciation for our labors.

Such approach is not new to Freemasonry. For example, the Grand Lodge of Cuba stated, in 1936, also during a very heated political period, the following opinion: Freemasonry does not intend to stop the struggle between ideologies, but to help create a climate where everyone can defend his principles using reason, and achieve success based upon the merits of his ideas.

Bro. Jorge L. Romeu
Onondaga District Mentoring Chair