Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pride and Elitism

by Rudy Olano

 for those who long to sit where the Sun rises
and to those who hear the sound of silver trumpet at early dawn and eve of day,
 the glory is what was done for others not the jewel to show around

A story about pride, humility, arrogance and elitism. These words exemplify both extremes of human characters. Some people were born with these qualities as imbedded in their DNA and some learn to adopt it for their own reasons. In our Fraternity the idea of making a good men a better man has been the object of the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry.  The repetitive reminder of receiving others in a morally upright mindset, dealing fairly on an even ground, ensuring correctness of one actions or parting upon the square are not just an arcane mindless ritual but of a part of veiled allegories and illustrated by symbols of a moral system known as Freemasonry.  Every members of this Craft are thought that every symbols has meaning and that includes the mandatory requirement of reciting certain pledge as an metaphor of the importance of keeping ones word---it's a teaching tool or another symbol and not to be taken literally. These are just few of unique methods our Craft utilized to turn rough ashlar into a polished marble -- from good men to a better man.

     The story starts with two good men who the narrator remembered before they petitioned for degrees in Freemasonry. One was personally interviewed and the other was received upon the point of sharp instrument. Both of these Brethren went on to became Masters of their own Lodges. Invited at the Lodge installation of officers, naturally the narrator was full of pride in seeing the personal accomplishments of those he have some minuscule part of their labor. Although being away from the area for sometime, the old timers recognized the narrator and were reminiscing gone by days when a past master noted a Masonic pin on the lapel of the long lost brother. With a loud voice this PM invited other PM announcing that the narrator is wearing "their" pin ie past master pin. Red faced with unexpected drama, all the narrator did was to mumble that it is not a PM pin but of Cryptic Masons pin. Few years passed, the narrator was again invited by a PM on his re-installation to the Eastern chair. And like a bad dream that comes true, the scenario played out once again. However, this time the narrator evoked a Masonic teaching of counsel to ears to the grinning PM and pointed out that the same question was asked few years back and the same answer will be given. That the narrator was not and never claimed to be a past master of a blue lodge and that pin is a symbol of purple Council of Cryptic Masons. This time the now serious PM took time and a closer look of the lapel pin. With his own discovery, he noted the trowel instead of a letter G common to blue Lodge symbology.

     The feeling of accomplishment and the resulting pride in oneself are illustrated in both extremes, the narrator pride in seeing his minuscule part of someone accomplishment is different from the PM belief that only they can wear "their" pin. For humans who exerted so much to a certain endeavor, sometimes the feeling of self entitlement seriously clashed with a notion called humility.  Humility unchecked is arrogance and with arrogance comes the feeling of being cocooned within the protective walls of elitism. There are those within the walls of our Fraternity see themselves as the sole owners of Masonic symbols and non members who use such were treated as unequal or unworthy of the lessons of plumb, level and square.  For a moral system which encourage fairness, brotherhood, toleration, the proliferation of symbols and practices that suggest elitism such as colors, designs, titles, etc., are so prevalent that one has to wonder --- who we are now a days?  Despite of what we learned, it seems that the simple unblemished white apron is not enough for those who thought they worked harder than the rest therefore, entitled to a special symbol, group and titles. There is a lesson in Scottish Rite's thirty second degree which applies to all persons, Masons or not, York Rite or not, blue Lodge PM or not --- it is about finding, understanding, and maintaining balance in our life. It is about enjoying the feeling of being proud without the stigma of arrogance, of being humble without label of elites and ultimately being illuminated to see the darkness of our own soul.  

     Who am I, whence I came from and what I came here to do? These are the basic questions we learned to ask ourselves. We memorized the correct responses but internalized the real answers. Having sat in the East and tasted the power of the gavel, a different question applies to a now Past Master.  Like the basic questions which has two set of answers one official and one that really matters--- the answer that resides within the vault of our inner crypt that stores all our real consciousness --- what did I really accomplished, is it for my Brethren, my family or for myself? Response could be easy if we truly understand the difference between pride, humility, arrogance and elitism.


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