THOMAS JACKSON (part 6)
How do you see our Craft in the next decades?
There again, we go back to different areas of the world.
To put it very bluntly, in the English-speaking countries we’re going to be struggling to survive. For an organization losing 85% of its membership, as one of the Grand Lodges in Australia, or even 75% of the membership, as we have done in North America, and not realize that unless we can do something to reverse that trend there’s not a great future for Freemasonry in the English-speaking countries…
Hopefully the attempts we are making in the United States today and in Canada, with their traditional observant style of Freemasonry, hopefully this will reverse the trend. It’s going to take a long period of time, but there can be a future for Freemasonry in these countries. I look at the greatest future of Freemasonry to exist in Eastern Europe and in Africa, and the reason I say that is that you’re experiencing in Eastern Europe and in Africa something new. But with that, being new, it also is being offered the greatest challenges. And I’ve expressed many times that Freemasonry is always at its best when its challenges have been the greatest. This is the reason I think you have a great future for Freemasonry in Eastern Europe: there’s a greater challenge, but there’s also a greater need.
In countries that have stabilized their governments, for example in the United States, Canada, the Western European countries, where Freemasonry has existed for generations and the styles of government have been stabilized, there’s a lesser need for the influence. I don’t mean there’s no need, but there’s a lesser need for the influence of Freemasonry. There will always be a need, because there will always be a need to make good men better, but there’s a lesser need for the influence in the evolution of the society in these countries.
In Eastern Europe and in Africa, where Freemasonry is a relatively new phenomenon, there’s a greater challenge. Africa has massive challenges because of the different cultures, different countries, different religions, the different languages – the challenges in Africa are massive to Freemasonry. Yet, my experience in African Freemasonry has been very, very positive, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. My greatest fear in Africa is there’s so much of an appreciation for the significance of Freemasonry in the indigenous cultures that it can be used to promote individuals, rather than to promote the philosophy of Freemasonry.
This can happen in Eastern Europe also, but I think there is a greater challenge for it in Africa. But the challenge exists to a greater extent in these countries – this is the reason I think there is a great future for Freemasonry in the world. I don’t think there will ever be a time when Freemasonry will not exist. There may be areas of the world that it certainly curtailed for a long period of time, but I don’t see any time that it would not exist in the world. There’s always going to be that need. Hopefully we can find the leadership that becomes devoted to the purpose of the Craft, rather than to themselves. And that’s always been a challenge, but it’s a greater challenge, unfortunately, today in much of the world.
Splendid! Many thanks, Tom. Thank you very much indeed.