A Critical and Respectful Viewpoint on the Masons (and Secret Societies)

Copyright 2014, John Manimas Medeiros


How many secret societies are there, and what do they do, secretly?  I do not have any unusual access to information to answer these questions factually, but I want to engage in a rational discussion of secret societies in general and the Masons in particular.  My opinions regarding the Masons are not terribly unusual, and are based on ideas about the Masons that have appeared in books and in filmed documentaries.  The Masons may have "secrets," but they are not overly secretive about their existence.  Further, let us say from the start that there is no hard evidence that the Masons are by virtue of their rules or avowed mission engaged in a destructive conspiracy against the wishes of the majority.  They may in fact be committed to pursuing the wishes of the majority, or protecting the interests of the majority.  Neither do we know for certain whether their highest priority is the greatest good for the greatest number, or the greatest good for themselves.  Are the Masons selfish, devoted to their own group interests, or do they promote a more benevolent effort to protect the interests of the entire society?  This is what I want to explore, subject to the fact that I do not have any more information than others.  I have never been a Mason and probably never will be because I feel discomfort with the concept of a secret society.  I am not sure that if a group is doing good work their activities need to be treated as a secret, but then again, maybe they do.  The practice of a group having secrets which appear to be associated with exercising social control seems to be contrary to a democratic society.  So, that is the main purpose of my discussion, to look at how a secret society fits into a democracy.


If you pay attention to public political controversy and economic debates, you will have heard of the "Bilderberg Club" or the "Carlyle Group," and rumors that these are each groups of rich industrialists, investors, bankers and political figures who believe it is their place and prerogative to meet periodically and make important decisions that control the commerce and trade and economic policies that take effect all over our planet.  In other words, it is wondered whether these groups, who meet secretly and make secret decisions, exercise control over the political and economic policies that we usually deem to be the business of government.  Some people interpret this phenomenon as meaning that these are "secret societies" whose members exercise control over who will be rich and who will be poor, who will get what they want and who will get little or nothing.  These secret societies may have sufficient influence and economic control to determine which nation will win a war.  They may have sufficient influence and economic control to determine which nations will have access to energy resources and other natural resources.  Or, they may only function to protect and promote trade agreements and the channels of commerce that are already open, the channels of trade and commerce that all nations depend upon, and that all people depend upon.  It could be that these organizations simply review, on a grand scale, the economic systems that enable sellers and buyers to meet in peace and transact their business.  This does not mean only corporations that purchase oil by the millions of barrels, but also citizens who go out to buy milk and bread and meat and vegetables and the vendor will be there, reliably ready to sell at a price that is within a reasonable range and not a big surprise to the buyer.  We are sometimes incited to believe that international groups are highly secretive for nefarious purposes, and that they are essentially making decisions that negate the democratic process.  If such groups of the rich and powerful are making important economic decisions that affect all of us, then we may ask "Is the democratic process that we trust in real or a fake veneer?"  Let's remain calm, and think about what is being said, and what may be happening. 


Students of history and political science often come across the concept, which many believe, that trade and commerce encourage peace and discourage war.  Clearly, it is harder to go to war with a familiar ally with whom a nation has much trade, and an exchange of people and ideas.  Trade and commerce promote familiarity.  When we trade with another nation or another culture we hear about them, we learn about them, we will eventually visit or know friends or family who visit.  We begin to see them as interesting, just in their affairs, worthy of trust, and perhaps not always satisfied with us.  They may see some trait in us that they don't like, but we might be secure enough to even agree that we don't like that trait in us either.  On and on it goes, nations can become friends, but that friendship has to start somewhere from the beginning when nations are strangers.  Think back to your anthropology and even some of the ancient films that came out of Hollywood, showing how primitive people who might even have been unable to face one another and speak would leave gifts at a known site.  This is like saying:  "Look, this is what we have.  What have you got?"  The next step is trade, with awkward communications and mutual fascination mixed with mutual suspicion.  But, stick with the process, and two tribes begin to build a friendship.  The early stages of building allies are often accelerated by adolescents falling in love, wanting to marry someone from the other tribe.  In fact, among "enlightened" tribes, where elders are aware of the dangers of incest and a small gene pool, mating with individuals from another tribe is deliberately planned.  We have known for a very long time that large groups working together have greater security than small groups who remain isolated.  So, what does this philosophical ramble have to do with secret societies?  Well, it has a lot to do with groups who meet in secret, because we cannot be certain that they are up to no good.  What they are planning, and the specific content of their deliberations, goals and decisions is the truth that answers the question.  We do not have convincing evidence that we would be better off with no international planning. 


The core of a rational analysis of secrecy in global economic planning is embodied in the question as to whether we are sure our economic interests would be protected by no global planning.  How could that be so?  How could it be better to have no groups attempting to make plans to maintain international economic relationships?  The obvious response is that we have no factual information that demonstrates no planning is better than some planning.  Therefore, if any secret societies endeavor to plan our future, on the larger scale of international relations or even the functioning of our entire civilization on Earth, that is more likely to be good than bad.  I think what bothers us is the process of who is making the decisions, and the fact that they are not chosen or elected by the people.  There is a part of us that believes, with good reason, that being rich does not automatically make one wise.  Many rich people have never participated in real work.  They may have inherited their wealth, and they may have become wealthy by exploiting the labor of others and precious natural resources.  Thus, it is natural for us to be worried about the kinds of decisions that will be made by people who live in a world characterized by excess, excess money, excess property, excess power, and possibly little understanding of what it is like to be an ordinary citizen.  This concern is rational, valid in every way.  This concern is similar to parents wanting a teacher who understands and likes their child, or a patient who wants a doctor who is warm and clear rather than a doctor who is coldly factual and hurried. 


A solution to this problem then is that secret societies need to pay more attention to how they are perceived by the public.  The Masons are believed to have played a major role in the development of the United States of America.  They probably have continued to play a meaningful role, indicated by public monuments and architecture, and by the printing of Masonic symbols on American currency.  But the question as to how a secret society impacts a democracy is a natural one.  If a secret society identifies candidates for office, and then actively supports them to get them elected, what do they serve after being elected, the national interest or the Masonic interest?  That is a valid question, and it points to a defect in the American Constitution.  The American Constitution says nothing about political parties and little about how elections should be conducted.  This is the main reason why the United States developed a dysfunctional two-party system that causes polarization of opinions and destructive manipulations of the electoral system that cause severe damage to the democratic process.  The commercially-controlled media make things worse by diverting public attention from important issues to trashy gossip such as sexual behavior and to moral dilemmas and philosophical debates that are not the purpose of governing authority in a democracy. 


Constitutional scholars and political scientists have noted that rules for political parties are entirely absent from the Constitution of the United States.  Federal election laws are probably a violation of the Constitution, because there is nothing in the federal Constitution that vests power over elections in the federal government.  And, there are clear statements that any power not specifically vested in the federal government is reserved to the states and the people.  The most likely reason why there are no rules for political parties in the Constitution is because of the major role of the Masons in American history.  If the framers of the Constitution began to write rules for political parties, that would mean rules for the management of political factions, and the issue of secret societies would have to be included in the discussion, and in the provisions.  To write constitutional law about political parties would have required saying something about secret societies, and the Masons, as well as other secret groups, did not want to take any chances that rules for political parties might make secret societies illegal, or prohibit their participation in the political process.


Some political scientists claim that the absence of rules for political parties is deliberate and well-advised.  In a democracy, it is argued, the people need to have complete freedom to identify candidates for office and vote for them.  However, the original condition of "complete freedom" has changed to dirty fighting and is moving in the direction of complete corruption.  The United States of America, the alleged Land of the Free, has historical evidence that the presidential elections of John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush were subject to manipulation of the recorded votes.  Further, the elections of numerous members of both houses of Congress are subject to corruption by the crazy practice of creating voting district maps (Gerrymandering) that enclose a single party majority, rather than being enclosed by natural political boundaries, such as cities, towns or counties.  This practice of creating voting districts that more or less guarantee which party will win, is the opposite of the democratic process.  Gerrymandering election districts means actively removing the power of the voters and replacing it with a plan to overcome democracy rather than to sustain democracy.


There is some reason to believe that several secret societies are closely related and might actually be like divisions of the same organization.  The Rosicrucians have much in common with the Masons, but it may be that the Masons are more political and the Rosicurcians (Benjamin Franklin was a Rosicrucian and a Mason) stay more focused on the significance of geometry in the development of human knowledge.  The Gnostics are also "deists" and they promote the concept that spiritual success or enlightenment means the acquisition of wisdom, or special knowledge, the "gnosis" in "gnostic."  There is historical evidence that the Masons are closely related to the Knights Templar, and might actually be the same organization, while using the Masonic name may have the purpose of reducing public concern that the members are warriors.  Warriors kill people.  The Masons have advertised the image of a harmless organization that promotes moral behavior and good citizenship.  This conveys a public image to be admired rather than feared.  But there is more.


Persons who have family members who are Masons, and others who have read books about the Masons or "Masonry," have noted the viewpoint that the Masons are the enemies or adversaries of Roman Catholics.  This certainly would make sense if the Masons were the intellectual descendants of the Knights Templar, because the Roman Catholic Church attempted to brutally eradicate the Knights Templar over a period of decades in the early thirteen hundreds.  The Knights were charged with theological and moral crimes under the direction of the Grand Inquisition, and many were tortured and executed.  But we do not see any active opposition to the Catholic Church, certainly not overt opposition.  The allegation of opposition could arise simply from the fact that the Masons are deists who say that there is one God for all of humankind, but they oppose or resist a specific identification of the Creator God.  They certainly do not promote the identification of Jesus as God.  Their teleological beliefs are therefore actually somewhat similar to Islam.  They do not publicly claim a kinship to Islam, but advanced Masons form a special group may be designated as a "Cairo" chapter.  How and why would a group of Masons associate themselves with Cairo, the largest city in Egypt?  And why does no one ask for a public explanation of the meaning of this association?


Further, and far more important, if the Masons do have a history of arising out of the Knights Templar, why do we not see an active attack on the power of the Catholic Church?  The United States of America has friendly relations with the Vatican City.  During World War II, the Catholic Church appeared to cooperate with Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.  At least there was little or no vigorous opposition to the Nazi platform, and the officials of the Catholic Church did little to discourage the holocaust.  The explanation offered by the Church is that they had to protect their own people and their own interests.  They had to negotiate and compromise to protect Catholics from being targeted by the Nazi war machine.  Or, was it Roman Catholic property that needed to be protected?  Cathedrals and other institutions, all the holdings that were a source of financial security for the worldwide Catholic empire?  As the American Army marched through Italy, they had the perfect excuse to treat the Vatican City and the Catholic officials as the enemy.  Propaganda of all kinds was effective during that time, and a little propaganda could have gone a long way in persuading American citizens that the Pope and the College of Cardinals had consorted with the Nazis, offered no meaningful opposition to Nazi power.  The Vatican City could have been bombed and Catholic officials could have been killed by the unfortunate but chaotic destruction of war.  But it didn't happen.  The perfect opportunity for "Masonic America" to punish Catholic Rome was passed over.  Why this overt friendship when the Masons are so often accused of being anti-Catholic?  Or are the Catholics anti-Mason?  Why would a fraternal organization that promotes moral behavior and good citizenship be a threat to the Roman Catholic Church? 


It could be that the assault on corrupt members of the Knights Templar in 1307 were not strictly a matter of Catholic versus Templars.  Possibly the Knights Templar discovered corruption within their own organization and decided that it would be best to let the King of France and the Catholic Inquisition purge them of the danger within, rather than address the problem by internal conflict and destructive factional war among themselves, which could have done more damage, and truly ended them.  The attack by the Inquisition did not destroy the Knights Templar.  They flourished after that event, and played a major role in what we call "the age of exploration."  They had sailing ships, and their seafaring skills may still be with us in the United States Navy.


So, what do we do about secret societies, if anything?  Well, we just need to let them know that we are watching.  We will continually endeavor to know who they are and what they are doing.  We will give them the benefit of the doubt, hope and assume that they are doing some good.  But still, we are watching, and any evidence that they are acting in a manner that is selfish or destructive, any pattern of behavior that corrupts the democratic process, and we, the people, will take action against them.  Secret societies need to keep in mind that if the people ever believe that secret societies are enemies of the national interest, they will be identified, detained, and punished.  People endure, as the American Declaration of Independence says, the people will cope with scarcity of food and shelter, poverty, disorder.  However, beware of contempt for the people.  Beware of bruises on peoples' dignity.  You can deprive the people, but do not insult them.  People who are fighting in defense of their dignity have never been defeated, and never will.

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