Where is the Future of Freemasonry?
Very Ills..... Bro... Matias Cumsille 33o
The soul of Freemasonry is now moving away from its traditional roots in Western Europe and North America to those places where it can truly be used for the good of Humanity.
Not here; not in the “West.” Modern Freemasonry may have fully developed in Europe and North America, but it did so by means of colonization. Some have even called it a vehicle for Imperialism – used to consolidate power by allowing wealthier and influential locals into Lodges to assimilate the ruling class. Though there might be a seed of truth in this accusation, in the end, the only truth is that Euro-American domination of Masonry is coming to an end.
Freemasonry will not only survive but will evolve in those parts of the world considered and so-called “underdeveloped.” South and Central America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are ripe for True Masonry. It is in these places of struggle that the stagnation of Freemasonry will be broken and the symbolism that carried the battle cry of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity will again be heard to herald the forces of Enlightenment and progress.
What happened in the “West” that has strangled Freemasonry? Simply, life here has become far too easy in comparison to the rest of the world. We are not struggling with starvation, clean water, or widespread disease. Income is higher; entertainment is ubiquitous; options are many. We have too many distractions. Oh, we have our own problems of government corruption or civil unrest. We have what some call, “first world problems.” While I am not in any way attempting to diminish these issues, they in no way approximate the problems found outside the Euro-American world.
We who live in the “West” have become bloated on excess and ease. Our population suffers from a lack of purpose and nihilistic fear of meaninglessness. Everyone is looking for their next entertainment fix. Our attention is amazingly short-term, and our gratification is immediate.
And, as a consequence, Lodge membership is down for almost all mainstream Masonic organizations. There is a myriad of excuses why this has happened over the last seventy years: from the advent of television and other forms of entertainment to the lack of education and general fulfillment of the rituals. Basically, people in the “West” do not go to Lodge if they are not being directly entertained or educated. Freemasonry, instead of being a group of builders, has become a group of takers.
The foundations of Freemasonry in the “West” are resting upon the shoulders of a few who work tirelessly to keep the juggernaut of administration alive for future generations. This idea of carrying the torch for better generations is akin to saying that one is waiting for someone better to come. It is surrendering before the war is fought or a battle is won.
In my opinion, Freemasonry was meant to exist in the fields of struggle. It was meant to fight injustice and overcome adversity – to bring science, philosophy, and understanding to the darkened world. And in the intellectual arrogance of the “West,” we believe we have in some measure attained these virtues, these grand achievements. But prosperity, though wonderful in many ways, is a trap that decays the mind and heart of those that obtain it.
It is the “immigrants,” “foreigners,” and “untouchables,” legal or otherwise, that have the hardest work ethic. They are not defeated by the gloom of post-modernism or the arrogance of science. They are not wrestling with the purpose of life but surviving it. It is this lower socioeconomic class that is sustaining the global economy by hard work and struggle.
The same is true in Freemasonry. It is those that have come from the hardest backgrounds that are willing to “build” and “work.” They are not looking for a Masonic handout of knowledge, titles, and badges; they are looking to build a legacy of involvement and direction.
More to the point, many in the “West” accuse the traditions and religions of the Caribbean and Africa, of India and China, to be superstitious or even primitive. Our agnosticism and flirtation with atheism have us pointing the finger at religions, especially ones like voodoo or ancestral worship, declaring them the worst of human devotion. This is the arrogance of ignorance. Because, what some call superstitious, I would call connected, and what others call primitive, I would call ancient.
These cultures feel the essence of life at a very different level – a level achieved through the simplicity of a ritualistic life. The heritage of “Rites of Passage” is still strongly found in these places. And for this reason, their cultures have not evolved, like ours, to be so dualistic: black and white, right and wrong, true and false. They live in more of a pantheistic world: viewing ideas and concepts as interconnected and interdependent. Masonry is a natural hub for these cultures as it values the diversity of religion, philosophy, and science.
Therefore, we must look outside the Euro-American world for Masonry to evolve to the next level on the evolutionary tree. The rituals must evolve, who is allowed in the craft must be inclusive, the system of dues, reports, and bureaucracy must be simplified. Ultimately, the symbolism and magic of ritual must grow into a full blossom of meaning and experience.
It is a lesson for those of us who live in the “West.” We must learn to never stop fighting for perfection. That technological supremacy does not equate to cultural superiority. We must not allow ease to get the better of us. By the subjection of our passions and by disciplining the mind and body, we must overcome the stagnation and ugliness of modern ostentatious life.
As Masons, we serve Humanity. There are corners of the world, including the “West,” that is steeped in darkness and despair. Like Master Jesus, we must not frequent the places of wealth and fame, but we must venture into the places of darkness to help the downtrodden. So must Freemasonry venture away from its fancy buildings and bloated structures into the rest of the world, where eager builders await to build the world into ever greater levels of consciousness and evolution.