Freemasonry for the Future © 2002 by W. Brother Cameron MacKay Introduction Never before in history has the Western World been so technologically capable as it is today. Never before in the history of the Western World/ have the moral and ethical choices involved such vast ramifications for animals, plants, and the ecosystem. And it seems, never before in the history of the Western World, / has there been such an incredible gulf / between our ability to produce intellectual and physical property / and our ability to decide how we OUGHT to use these products of math and science. The Techno-Info Age. Although crafted by science, aided by computer technology, and promoted by modern market economies, / this Society of unprecedented wealth and convenience shows signs of fundamental weakness. Some of those flaws can be enumerated as follows: 1 The traditional nuclear family, / that foundation of Society for over 2000 years,/ is being eroded by economic and time demands on both spouses / while certain other groups try to redefine "the family" to discredit the traditional nuclear family. 2 The privacy of the human being, / which was the subsoil which nurtured human spiritualism,/ human dignity,/ human creativity,/ and indeed the liberal democracies,/ is being eroded by technology which now or in the near future will have the capacity to do the following: 2.1 Enable Governments to monitor every telephone call, every e-mail, and obviously every letter which crosses a national border; 2.2 Enable Governments to implant computer chips in every human being so that their location, their financial transactions, and indeed their very thoughts are constantly supervised; 2.3 Enable Scientists to clone and engineer DNA so the biological development of the human species will be in the hands of those who hold that power; 2.4 Enable medicine to continuously replace failing human organs/ (including the brain)/ until an individual has more electronic parts than natural parts,/ thereby blurring the distinction between man and machine; 2.5 Enable computer scientists to produce computers with artificial intelligence superior to human intelligence/ thereby creating the possibility that someday man could be subservient to machines. The Modern Dilemma What, then, are Western Man's capabilities to decide how this technology OUGHT to be used to provide a happy healthy world for human beings? Western Philosophy,/ trapped by its own defined limits on reason, / is caught in an endless debate as to whether objects even exist / or whether they are simply perceptions of the mind. Religious leaders, / trapped by the limits of their own Dogma, / paralyzed by secular arguments that "God is dead", / seem incapable of providing a moral philosophy which copes with galloping technological advances. Political leaders, / fascinated by the ability of the 12 second media sound byte to produce majority governments, / focus on media perception rather than use truth and reasoned dialogue to persuade the voter. None of the foregoing is intended to suggest we are headed for the breech of the Apocalypse or to a Mathusian meltdown. I table these futuristic images to show the incredible gulf between our ability to produce physical and intellectual property / and our pitiful lack of sophistication in deciding how we OUGHT to use these products of Math and Science. Freemasonry's Role in the Modern World What then is the role of Freemasonry in the modern World? I suggest that if Freemasonry is to have a significant impact in the modern world, / it must return to its original mission. Like our forefather in the Age of the Enlightenment, / Freemasons must see the Craft / as an instrument for the development of a philosophical/ethical system / through which man can solve modern moral dilemas in a rational yet spiritual framework. Like our forefathers in the Age of the Enlightenment, / Freemasons must see their mission as one where they extend this philosophical/ ethical/ spiritual system throughout the Western World. It must be a a system for solving moral problems; / not simply a moral code. It must be a moral system which encompasses scientific knowledge / rather than one which challenges scientific knowledge. It must provide the language and methodology for men to solve moral and spiritual questions by use of reason / rather than one which denies the ultimate validity of reason. Freemasonry's role in Modern Society --- its mission --- is to spread this enlightened thinking to the world at large / and thereby increase our ability to determine what OUGHT to be the ENDS of our scientific developments. Can Freemasonry Fulfill this Mission? If Freemasons continue to view the Craft as simply a venerable old fraternity where pleasant friends spend pleasant leisure time, / we probably cannot fulfill the mission. If, however, Freemasons sees the Craft as a prestigious institution in which Masons can consolidate wealth, power, and influence / to use for the benefit of Society at large, this would be a commencement point. If Freemasons continue to view the Craft as merely a mechanism to teach a few simple moral lessons through symbolic degrees in which rank and apron are purely symbolic, / then it is difficult to envisage Freemasonry fulfilling its proper mission. If, however, Freemasonry requires courses of instruction, / examinations, / and time for true personal development, / before allowing a candidate to take the next degree, we would be taking the second step towards fulfilling the mission. If Freemasons continue to view the Craft as restricted solely to personal internal moral development, / then our possibility of fulfilling the mission is precluded by definition. If, however, masons recognize the "no politics rule" is restricted to "no discussion of party politics in a tyled Lodge, / and recognized that the "no religion rule" is restricted to "no discussion of denominational religion in a tyled Lodge", / we could move forward. Freemasons could then meet, discuss, analyze, and debate the proper moral position on the great issues of the day. In so doing, / masons would cultivate and enlighten their minds and qualify themselves to contribute to the great mission: ........... to give to the world at large an enlightened moral philosophy with which to determine what ought to be the ends of our scientific and technical means. Why should this be Freemasonry's Role? It is suggested that this should be the mission of Freemasonry because as an institution Freemasonry has numerous unique characteristics which make it a natural institution to spread a moral philosophy for the 21st. Century. These characteristics include: 1 Freemasonry has no single world view of history. Since its principles are philosophical and its lessons symbolic, there is no single historical fact which, / if proven untrue, / would leave Freemasonry in crisis. Such cannot be said for many of the world's great Religions. 2 Freemasonry's principles of truth, equality, and toleration fit perfectly into the ethos of the modern Western societies. Freemasonry's history is relatively unsullied. It has no inquisition to apologize for; / no imperialism to places its image in disrepute; / no wars to answer for; / no systematic persecutions to plead guilty to; / and no mean spirited religious or racial intolerance. 3 In an age of the emerging global economy, / Freemasonry has had a long history of an international presence in which membership in the Craft not race, creed, or nationality were the criteria. Through its long established internationalism, / Freemasonry is positioned to answer and advise on spiritual and ethical questions for these new emerging global economies. 4 Finally, / Freemasonry's continuous support of reason and enlightenment make it a natural institution to spread a moral philosophy for the 21st. Century. The Nature of Freemasonry But before we can embark on this Mission, Freemasons should have an articulate idea of what Freemasonry is and represents. Freemasonry is not a simplistic philosophy. Its mission is to empower / not confine the human soul; / its purpose is to enhance, / not detract from the liberties of mankind; / and its function is to cultivate / rather than manipulate the development of human thought. Freemasonry does not see man as a mere cog in the machinery of the industrial state; / it sees man as a noble creature peering in wonderment into the face of God. / Freemasonry does not view man as a beastly creature hidebound in crude pursuit of pleasure; / it views man as a complex creature struggling in time and space to find truth and lasting happiness. / Freemasonry, does not perceive man as flotsam floating helplessly in a primordial sea; / it perceives man as capable, through rational thought, of mastering the game of life. It is my suggestion, My Brethren, that at present the Masonic Lodge is an organization which has lost its sense of a central mission and purpose. I suggest that if we rededicated ourselves to the original plan which was: ....... to develop a moral/ philosophical/ spiritual system which modern man could use to decide the great moral questions which now confront modern man we would fill a void for a great many young men in the 21st Century. If we committed ourselves to giving that philosophy to the world at large, / I suggest we would fill a great many vacant seats in the tyled recesses of the Lodge. In closing, may I be allowed to paraphrase from that great Churchillian phrase: / Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, / and so bear ourselves that, / if Freemasonry last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour".
Copyright: The Skirret, 2015