Friday, April 24, 2015

A Brother Asks: When Someone Posts Quoted Ritual?





A Brother Asks: Good Morning Coach.  What should a Brother do when another Brother quotes Ritual on line?
Coach: Great Question!  I’d make sure he’s actually quoting Ritual and not just putting something up that sounds like ritual.

REALITY CHECK

Brother: Whoa!  I had not thought about that!
Coach: Thought about what?
Brother: If what is quoted is actual Ritual.
Coach: Yes.  Many Brothers react rather than respond to things that look like quoted Ritual.
Brother: React rather than respond? What’s the difference?

REACT vs RESPOND

Coach: Reacting requires little to no thought about what you have before you and giving even less thought about what you do about it.
Brother: And responding?
Coach:  Responding requires you actually think deeply about what is before you and treat your next actions with equally deep thought.
Brother: Would you give an example of reacting please?

EXAMPLE

Coach: Sure. It’s when you quickly jump to conclusions about what you think you know about what you think you're seeing or what you think you're being asked. You cause more damage to relationships than you could ever begin to imagine by taking actions that are inappropriate to the real situation rather than the imagined one.
Brother: I mean a real life example.
Coach: Okay. Here’s a case in point.  A Brother quoted that we are first made Masons in our hearts.
Brother: But we are!
Coach: Perhaps, but he quoted it like it this was in Ritual.
Brother: Well, isn’t it?
Coach: It is not.
Brother: Wait!  I see this claim all the time and one Brother after another responds like it is in Ritual.
Coach: Yes. I have seen this as well.
Brother: Well, what do you do when you see this?
Coach: I let the Brother know that he is not quoting Ritual and recommend he investigate it further.
TWO PATHS

Brother: What happens next?
Coach: Usually one of two things.
Brother: The first?
Coach: He responds by saying he needs to look into it and he then goes away and investigates.
Brother: Then?
Coach: He eventually comes back, agrees with me and thanks me for giving him the incentive to explore the claim further.
Brother: Good times!
Coach: For sure!
Brother: What about the second?
Coach: He reacts by immediately disagreeing, sometimes officiously. He doesn’t investigate at all and then tries to bully me and others into accepting his claim, even though I and others know it’s false.
Brother: This reflects very poorly upon the Craft.
Coach: Indeed.  However, you’ll get this every time you advance anyone who doesn’t do even the bare minimum Work required to advance properly.
Brother: Can you provide another example, one more subtle and not so obvious?
Coach: Sure. At first glance a meme I posted recently*, one of many, appeared to be quoting Ritual. 
Brother: Yikes! Appeared to but it was not actually a real quote?
Coach: Exactly!  The operative phrase here is “appeared”.

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING

Brother: What happened?
Coach:  As you might have guessed, lots of reactions! 
Brother: I can imagine!
Coach: And at first glance, if you think it was quoting Ritual, you'll purposefully mislead yourself into thinking that it was, especially when you don't know your Ritual.
Brother: You mean, without actually comparing to Ritual what was quoted, you’ll jump to a false conclusion?
Coach: Yes! 
Brother: But what you are saying is that the meme that was posted was NOT quoting any Ritual on the face of this earth or any Ritual known to man?
Coach: Exactly!  In truth, the quote was made up to purposefully provoke deep thought about what Ritual was actually saying and doing so without actually quoting Ritual.
Brother: Are you saying that it was "f-a-b-r-i-c-a-t-e-d"!

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES TO THINK (or not)

Coach: Yes!  It was created to purposefully give the impression that it was quoting Ritual, even though it was not.
Brother: But if you know your Ritual, you’ll immediately spot this fabrication and recognize what the meme was really doing, or at least offering. 
Coach: Yes, you'll know the intent. However, if you truly do not know your Ritual, you’ll still believe it was quoting Ritual and jump to false conclusions.
Brother: Wouldn’t that make a jumper look foolish?
Coach: Yes. Well, at least in the eyes of those who know better.
Brother: Is this one of the reasons it is SO important to memorize your catechisms?
Coach:  Yes!  Memorization lays the foundation for knowing Ritual and it prevents you from being shown as foolish for assuming people are quoting Ritual, especially when they are not.
Brother: And when you don't know your Ritual, you'll jump to falsely supported conclusions that are embarrassingly wrong for and to all involved.
Coach: I agree!  When you don't know your Ritual, and think you do, you're compelled by a false notion that others are quoting Ritual, or anything that sounds like Ritual.  You'll take damaging action on wrong conclusions and do so in wrong directions. 

UGLY AFTERMATH

Brother: And you'll be an embarrassment to yourself, to others and to the Craft as a whole. 
Coach: Yes. Your actions will also destroy the trust of your Brothers and lead others to take damaging action that'll rip the very fabric of what makes this fraternity special.
Brother: Wow!  I can also see that you'll show yourself to be a person who doesn't think much about your Fraternity, especially when you make effort to correct a Brother in public, rather than private, as is the way of all Brothers who follow our principles.
Coach: Sadly, yes.  And the shame you bring about by your actions will be upon you and the Craft.
Brother: WOW!  Thinking twice before you take for granted what is being quoted in any meme and what is really being said or asked helps prevent misunderstandings is sure important. 
Coach:  Yes.  It’s important to understand that the first time you read the words within any meme may actually be right then and there, where it is posted for you to see.
Brother: Are you saying that you may likely NEVER have ever heard the meme's quoted phrase stated in Ritual or at any other time before that moment it was revealed to you?
Coach: That is exactly what I am saying.
Brother: Yikes! 
Coach: Yes, that’s a shocker for sure.
Brother: But if the meme did its job, got you to think, you might just pay closer attention the next time you do hear Ritual, especially the part you thought you heard, and remember it the right way and not the way the meme presented it.
Coach: One can only hope.
Brother: And hopefully, as a result, you'll also be less likely to embarrass yourself and your Brothers when you make effort to correct him for something he didn't do.
Coach: Yes.

BUT…

Brother: But what about when a Brother actually does quote Ritual?
Coach: Good! I’m glad you want us to tackle this part of your question.
Brother: Hey!  I am paying attention Coach!
Coach: Yes, you are. Kudos!
Brother: Thanks!  ...Well?
Coach: If they are actually quoting Ritual, there are a number of things you do NOT want to do, ever!
Brother: Like?
Coach: Like stating publically that a person is quoting Ritual!
Brother: But why the heck not? Isn’t it our duty to tell him or call him out on it?
Coach: It is our duty to inform him when we believe he is straying, but only after we have done our due diligences to assure we are not approaching him with righteous indignation that is misdirected and wholly unwarranted.
Brother: Okay, this goes back to responding rather than reacting.
Coach: Yes.  And furthermore, you want to do this in private, out of ear and eye shot of the public to make sure that you give your brother every opportunity to understand why you are approaching him and to verify your suspicions. 
Brother: But that would mean you’d have to actually practice the principles of Freemasonry.
Coach: What good are these principles if you only give them lip-service and not apply them in your daily dealings, especially when it comes to possibly accusing your Brother of something you misunderstood?
Brother: Okay. I see your point. 
Coach: Good!

WRAP-UP

Brother: So, one of the things you don’t want to do is publically confront or accuse. Got it!
Coach: Yes... and?
Brother: And the other thing you don’t want to do is not practice Fraternal principles when you are doing your due diligence.  Sure!  Whisper counsel, but before you do, make sure it applies!
Coach: Exactly! 
Brother: Anything else?
Coach: Yes, if he is actually quoting Ritual, don’t assume the Ritual he is quoting is your Ritual.
Brother: Huh?
Coach: There’s a high probability that your Brother is not doing anything wrong and that what is being quoted may actually be Ritual used by a jurisdiction that is publically open about its Ritual or part of an unused Ritual that is in the public domain.
Brother: Wait! What?
Coach: Yes, there are Rituals throughout the world that are printed in total, (except for specific words).
Brother: Really?
Coach: Yes. And there are a whole bunch of Rituals that are in the public domain that are not used in recognized jurisdictions.
Brother: You mean that they’re obsolete?
Coach: Yes.
Brother: So, quoting things that are Ritual like, from already in print Rituals and unused Rituals is fair game?
Coach: YesThe first is not quoting Ritual. The second is quoting something that is allowed to be quoted since it is both not a secret and publically accessible. The last is quoting something that is publically accessible, no longer in use and not secret.
Brother: What about discussing it?
Coach: Discussions that don’t reveal any secrets are fair game too. 
Brother: And the things you want to do here when you are still driven to approach a posting Brother on a concern?
Coach: Research, investigate, do your due diligence and make sure you approach the Brother in private so that you understand fully rather than assume and accuse in ignorance.
Brother: Anything more?

IRONIC SECRETS

Coach: Yes.  When Brothers take what is posted into the realm of actually discussing secrets, in your view, caution them in private.
Brother: You mean, don’t post on the thread conversation words that say to the world, “you are discussing secrets” or “you’re quoting Ritual”.
Coach: Exactly! Doing so draws the very undue attention about which you’re cautioning your Brothers.
Brother: In other words, in trying to warn your Brothers about violating their obligations, you’re violating your obligations.
Coach: Yes.  An ironic twist in results that those who are doing the warning never realize that they are themselves doing by pointing things out publically.
Brother: Can you provide an example?
Coach: Sure. I posted a title of a book years ago. And some well-meaning Brother pointed out immediately that I was posting one of our secret words, that I should never write that word and that I was violating my obligation.
Brother: Yes, I can see the irony in this.
Coach: Good!  Unfortunately, he didn't and had he just not said anything that posted book title would have gone totally unnoticed by anyone who didn’t know the connection.
Brother: But he pointed it out, stated the connection and anyone reading the thread who didn’t know, was therefore informed about something they would have not known had he simply remained quiet.
Coach: Yes. Some well-meaning Brothers are worse enemies to the Craft than anti-masons.
Brother: And they take these damaging actions all in the name of virtuously protecting the honor of the Craft.
Coach: Ironic, isn’t it?
Brother: Yes.

WHAT IFS

Coach: So, let’s get back to your question.
Brother: Okay.
Coach: What should you do when things are being quoted that are suspiciously ritualistic in nature.
Brother: Don’t react!
Coach: Yeah, that’s a good start.
Brother: Think it through.
Coach: Yes! 
Brother: Make sure it’s actually Ritual that is protected and not something that only sounds like Ritual, is not protected in other jurisdictions or not some unused public domain Ritual that has nothing to do with your Ritual.
Coach: Yes!
Brother: If I feel what is being shared warrants actions, approach the poster, if he is a Brother, through any private means possible first, and, if it’s impossible to do so directly, try to get a trusted close Brother to do the same through private means.
Coach: And what if the poster is not a Brother?

Brother: Ignore it and move on.
Coach: Why?
Brother: Because it is being posted by a profane individual and that does not warrant further action, unless it is your thread.
Coach: What if it is on your thread?
Brother: I'd have to think about it... I would probably delete it and block the individual as a Cowan or Eavesdropper, especially when what is being put forth is an attempt to stir the pot and gather undeserved Light.

DON'T MAKE THINGS WORSE


Coach: That makes sense. But what if it is a Brother who is posting?
Brother: If I have exhausted all private means, I'd approach the Brother directly in the post and ask him to contact me for a private discussion, giving him every chance to do so in a considerate and timely manner.
Coach: And if all avenues are closed to this?
Brother: Don't post anything more...

Coach: Like?
Brother: Like "I'm uncomfortable discussing...", "We shouldn't be discussing..." or "Remember your obligation..."
Coach: Why?
Brother: Because doing so may lead profane readers to conclusions about what was posted we don't want them to have.
Coach: Agree! And your next move?

Brother: Just that... ...move on and turn it over to someone who may have more success with him.
Coach: Why?
Brother: Because making a public scene does far more damage to the Craft than what was posted.
Coach: Agreed. 
Brother: Good Lord! This is some heavy stuff!
Coach: Indeed!  It separates out the Masters from the Ruffians for sure.
Brother: Agreed!
 
* UPDATE: A meme that I reposted 4 years later with similar results. Some things never change.