THOMAS JACKSON (part 2)
The development of Freemasonry in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe changed the balance of power in our Global Fraternity. How is Traditional Freemasonry affected by this? By Traditional Freemasonry I mean European Freemasonry, American Freemasonry – North American, of course.
First of all, I don’t look at the exposure of Latin American Freemasonry or Freemasonry in any way in the world affecting what you refer to as a balance of power. What is has done is exposed Freemasonry to these differences that exist in the operational styles that we were not aware of in the past. When I first went to Latin America back in the year 2000 I was impressed with the type of Freemasonry that I saw practiced there. As you are aware, in some of my writings I referred to “styles of Freemasonry” and I placed the different areas of the world in the operational style of how Freemasonry expressed itself.
For example, in Western Europe I called it the “philosophical style” simply because it retains much of the philosophical characteristics of the beginning of Freemasonry. When I went to Latin America I found there was a difference there, I found that what they did was more idealistic than Freemasonry that was found in Western Europe and I referred to it as the sociological style because it was driven more by the sociology of the environment. When we come into North America, North American Freemasonry is a style of Freemasonry that’s dedicated to a great extent on raising money to give to charities, and I referred to North American Freemasonry as a terrible style of Freemasonry. Now, what my intent was when I began working with the World Conference was to allow the different Grand Lodges of the world, the different Freemasonries of the world, to see each other and to see that there is a difference in the way that they operate. Now, as far as how that impacted Traditional Freemasonry – I don’t think it impacted it at all, because the philosophical purpose of Freemasonry is universal. No matter where you go in the world, you know Freemasonry simply by its philosophical purpose, and that’s simply “to take good men and make them better”. Now, in the process of it, in its operation, that’s where it varies and you may think that there is a difference in the balance of power simply because now you are seeing more Freemasonry than you have seen in the past. When you look at Latin America, there are so many different Grand Lodges existing there – even in the country of Brazil you have the National Grand Orient, the State Grand Lodges in each of the states, you have independent Grand Orients. If the balance of power depends upon the voting that takes place in the World Conference, then there’s certainly a difference in the influence that these areas of the world may generate.
Tom, now we’ll try to go to Europe. Tell me, please: are there differences between Eastern and Western Freemasonries?
I don’t know that there’s a difference between Eastern and Western Freemasonry – there is a difference in the way that the Freemasonry operates. And again I refer back to what I have regarded as “styles” of Freemasonry. Western Europe I place in a philosophical style. Eastern Europe is experiencing Freemasonry to a great extent for the first time in its existence. Now, there may have been Freemasonry – and there definitely was Freemasonry – in many of these European countries decades ago, before communism, Nazism and different totalitarian forms of government impacted the Freemasonry, and in fact destroyed Freemasonry in Eastern Europe. And for many decades Freemasonry simply did not exist in the Eastern European countries. Freemasonry now is permitted to operate in these countries, but when I first came into Eastern Europe – and the first country I visited in Eastern Europe was Romania, and that was back in the year 2000 – the one thing I noted in my travels through Eastern Europe was that I was dealing with a different mindset in the peoples of Eastern Europe than I experienced in Western Europe, indeed than I experienced anywhere else in the world. There seemed to be an inherent, or at least acquired, distrust towards organizations. And there was a greater need for Freemasonry to display to Eastern European countries its purpose. The difference that I find between Eastern Europe and, in fact, any other country in the world is simply the need for the public to adjust to the freedom of being able to have an organization like Freemasonry to exist.
There is a great challenge for Freemasonry in Eastern Europe, and there will be a great challenge for a long time to come until the public in Eastern European countries adjusts to that form of freedom that you have not known for so long. One thing I have found, though, that I admire greatly in Eastern Europe: first of all, it’s your selectivity. Most of the men that I have found in Eastern European Freemasonry are intellectual, dedicated individuals to the organization. This may not always be true, but it certainly is more true than I’ve found in Freemasonry in other parts of the world. I find a greater concentration, for example, of educated individuals comprising Freemasonry in Eastern Europe. When I say educated I mean with academic degrees. Far greater percentage of your membership hold academic degrees from universities than I find in many other parts of the world.