Grand Master, Grande Oriente d’Italia
First of all I thank you. Brethren do not thank each other, as I have been taught by older Masons. But I want to thank you. So I thank those who came from far away for these days and this day in particular, which I will remember forever. I feel the burden and, at the same time, the lightness of this assignment that you have entrusted me and before so many Brethren and foreign Delegations. I feel this burden, as I come from a small town, my beloved Siena, and have been elected to be the head of a community that has had the chance to have a great Grand Master, Brother Gustavo Raffi. I feel the lightness because I know I have all of you on my side. During the last few days, I have felt your warm support and affection, which will help me in this journey. This will help me to sail into the future, along with all of you.
The navigation of everyone, of every Lodge, and the entire Masonic Community starts from a safe haven, which is our tradition, which is not an obstacle to the progress of humanity and indeed promotes change for the dignity of man. “The tradition – in fact – is not the worship of ashes, but the worship of fire.” The roots of each of us are crucial, we must never forget them; they can become a strength to fly into the future. We are reminded about this by a singer my compatriot, Gianna Nannini, when she says that “roots are not chains.” I have never forgotten where I was born, where I received my education, my elementary school in the countryside where the teacher taught me our national anthem ‘Fratelli d’Italia’, and my first Brethren, Dino and Franco, who welcomed me in my first Lodge. Each of us lives with memories. No one wants to cancel the past here. Our memories give us the strength to go on.
And we move forward, we do not go back. We know where to go. Tradition guides us, but we cannot go back, which means that we cannot go back to 20 or 30 years ago when we were forced to hide and flee. We have opened and have found the pride of belonging to Freemasonry. The port from which we start our journey today is safe. The port is used to bring together ideas and energy and organize always new journeys. The port will be for docking of vessels of different origin, but a port of reception is not enough, as we must create the conditions to facilitate the restart of all towards their journey, according to their needs and resources. The appropriate ways to navigate are our values, but also getting together, and talking with our Brethren, and looking each other in the eyes is sometimes worth a thousand words.
We need to be sure about the desire and the strength of sailors, as Seneca wrote that “There is no favourable wind for those who do not know where to go.” We need the help and expertise of all, but to leave, to be able to sail, we need to paddle in harmony. I therefore appeal to the support of ALL Brethren. We work together to navigate well and to avoid standing still or stranding somewhere! People who push against cannot think that there are no other oarsmen, and the end result can only be to stand still or sink and lose the good things that we have done.
Let us stay together! Let us have mutual trust, dear sailors. Again with reference to the language of the sea, the Italian singer Rino Gaetano sang “Who swims alone drowns for three.” Rino Gaetano was a Calabrian minstrel a bit out of the box. Calabria is sometimes misquoted because of alleged ties between Freemasonry and the ‘ndrangheta, i.e. the local organised crime. We must stop to identify this region with the ‘ndrangheta. We must stop to identify Sicily with mafia, and Freemasonry with mafia. We must stop to identify Campania with camorra, and Freemasonry with camorra. Let us oppose this!
Dear Brethren, together we can direct us toward common goals and shared ports. What matters is what unites us and not what divides us, and if we fail to reach the same port, certainly that stretch of sea journey together will have made us stronger.
Bob Kennedy suggests and warns “The future does not belong to those who are satisfied… It will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage… The future will belong to those who understand that wisdom can only arise from the clash of conflicting ideas, from the passionate expression of deep and adverse beliefs.” Bob Kennedy reminds us that the true man is a remarkable and unique balance of Passion, Reason, and Courage. Passion is love for people, things, ideas, and man has always had to overcome the challenge of using his passions and not to be used by them. At the same time, man must not stifle passions until they are cancelled. Passions are like the wind in the sails: a journey cannot start without the wind.
We have a great desire to travel, which means doing what we say and think.
Reason is the tool that allows us to assess the reality of the present and past, things done and undone. Reason allows us to do a summary to learn from, in order to be able to design and plan the next steps. It is like a navigation plan and the use of all human and technological tools to proceed well in the navigation.
Finally Courage, which is a bit the result of Passion and Reason. Courage means knowing how to deal with the others, with diversity and adversity, with the right and appropriate methods to every circumstance, in an attempt to overcome the obstacles and draw strength from oppositions. However, dear Brethren, we shall not exaggerate in the oppositions; we shall avoid any wishful thinking that follows a stream and respect the ideas and rules. Courage is therefore the result of the wind that pushes, and tools that are used to exploit the force. Courage is what brings the rudder in the right direction by adapting to favourable or adverse forces.
We want to go on, trying to be pragmatic, trying to give strength to the things that are already good and trying to change things that can be improved through fraternal methods and cooperation with all, without arrogance and preconceptions, to improve ourselves and humankind.
Humankind, indeed, “My brother, you look at the world but the world is not like you”, says the Italian singer Ivano Fossati. It is true that the world is not like us, but what can we do to improve it? We polish the rough stone but, once it is smooth, do we put it on our grave when we pass to the Eternal Orient or do we allocate it to the world?
We should sail in this stretch of sea together in our thoughts and reflections, but also in our actions, in the works that are needed in our Communion and out of it, in the ship and in the sea. If we are all together sailors of desire, we can better deal with the difficulties inside and outside of the boat. We can tackle the rough seas hit by conflicting winds or the total absence of good and bad winds. We may find bias and slander, or laziness, boredom, the desire not to travel. Obstacles are not only coming from outside, but also from the same sailors, in some cases, because man is a “crooked timber, a mixture of Good and Evil” as Kant asserted. In other cases, in the search of the ideal and utopian harbour, discouragement and scepticism may occur. It will be difficult in all these cases to keep sailing, and only with the help of others, who truly believe in themselves and in Brethren, it will be possible to proceed, rowing hard, looking for better climates and taking advantage of the difficulties encountered to deal with ever new ones, driven by Utopia, but also by small daily achievements. Then, we can navigate with the stars above us and clear waters full of fish below us, as well as in murky waters and overcast sky. And even when the wind is good and the sea is right and we sail expediently, the important thing is not to get distracted, not to pretend, not to let go, because the sea can change in an instant.
For this reason, I wish that our Communion sails well, towards shared ports with shared routes, meeting and sailing with other ships, with appropriate means, without wasting resources to be used in times of real need. I want our Communion to sail through the work of everyone, without exception, looking into the face of our past and our present and planning the future trip, by looking at all sailing Brethren in the eyes, as some of them are sometimes in the boat or are about to get off the boat with no consideration or help from anyone. And then we can sail on new and old seas with new and old means.
Dear Brethren, our navigation comes from afar, from a glorious history. Freemasonry is like a big, beautiful book, but the most beautiful page is still to be written. Let us write it all together
Copyright Masonic Forum
Speech delivered on the Annual Communication of Grande Oriente d’Italia Rimini, 4-6 April 2014