Friday, August 23, 2019

A Brother Asks: Thinking in New Directions?

New Directions

A Brother Asks: What can you tell me about masonry that might get me thinking in ways I had not thought of before?
Coach: Sure. If you think Masonry is about thinking, think again.
Brother: Hmmm… I feel that we have different opinions on this subject.
Coach: What subject?
Brother: Masonry.
Coach: Good!  Please explain.
Brother: To me, a mason who doesn't do the work to improve his critical thinking must have forgotten the lesson from the second degree.
Coach: Would you provide more detail please.
Brother: Okay. To be precise: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.
Coach: How so?


Brother: Freemasonry is not only about "thinking" but critical thinking. It’s crucial to understand the obligations and purposes of this ancient craft.
Coach: But my comment was not about Freemasonry.
Brother: It wasn’t.
Coach: It was about Masonry.
Brother: What’s the difference?
Coach: Freemasonry is about the organization, assuring the dictates of the Grand Lodge Structure are adhered to and how members should support it.
Brother: Okay, and Masonry?
Coach: Contrast this focus with that of Masonry. Masonry is about the members and how the organization should support each of them toward betterment. It’s about making good men better and that betterment is the Work that is pointed toward by Freemasonic Ritual.
Brother: Ah!  Okay, got it! Thanks!
Coach: You’re most welcome.


Brother:  So, I would be very interested then to hear how you would further explain your original Masonic statement.
Coach:  Sure Brother and thank you for your shared thoughts and your warm invite. It is most appreciated.
Brother: Any time!
Coach: As with many things that I write, this offered statement can be taken two or more ways.
Brother: I’ve noticed that! It’s an equivocal statement.
Coach: Yes!  Good! I write to conceal from some and revealed to others.
Brother: Why?
Coach: Because by doing so, I see by the responses I get how a person typically approaches and views things.
Brother: Ah! Interesting!
Coach:  When you read and view this statement one way, negatively, you’ll come to what you have concluded in what your shared and showed that you have taken the sword by the blade.
Brother: Ouch!  Sounds painfully true! 
Coach: Yes. It sure can be, even more so when self-inflicted. I can tell from how you first took it, that my response to your query was most disagreeable to you.
Brother: Yes it was!


Coach: Should you entertain the notion that I’m encouraging those who think to continue "thinking", then you’ve grasped my intended secondary meaning -- "Think Again!" You’ve taken the sword by the handle to control it.
Brother: Wow!  I assumed an entirely different direction.
Coach: Yes, you did. And as you have pointed out, it's not just about thinking, but critical thinking.
Brother: Yes, I did!
Coach: In this case, what might be assumed at first isn’t what was intended for the critical thinkers among us.
Brother: hmmm… please, go on…
Coach: So, if you truly think that Masonry is all about thinking, then, please, by all means, THINK AGAIN!
Brother: Interesting.  Thank you for the clarification. Very thought-provoking!  I like it now.
Coach:  Thanks for thinking about it again my Brother.
Brother: You’re welcome. Without thinking we would not be having this conversation.
Coach:  Indeed. Not many think this way.  That’s why I encourage it though my posts.


Brother: One thing which I find slightly disappointing is that you are implying that I am lacking critical thinking because I did not guess your intention.
Coach: How so?
Brother: It is very clear to me that your statement did not provide enough data to reach the above conclusion without further clarification.
Coach: Yes. It’s both the hazard and the boon of being concise and purposefully equivocal.
Brother: Yes. One has to be guessing your intention to discover intended interpretation.
Coach: Indeed, and there is the challenge in concise communications. It may not always be as one initially takes it.
Brother: Like you have said yourself there are multiple meanings of your statement. How could the reader determine which meaning was meant by the author?


Coach: Further Investigation and Critical Thinking!  Never take anything for granted by its superficial appearance. Dig deep!  Get to the core. Investigate!  And look at the way the communication is constructed.
Brother: Constructed?
Coach: Yes!  Is it constructed as an equivocation?  When it is, there’s an intended double meaning and direction to be investigated and explored.
Brother: Interesting… I like to question ideas presented in this manner to clarify true intentions.
Coach: Me too!
Brother: Critical thinking is only possible when sufficient information is provided.
Coach: Not necessarily!
Brother: How so?
Coach: Critical thinking requires you take into consideration things that are not so obvious.
Brother: …and…

What’s Missing

Coach: Sometimes what’s missing from the provided information is merely insight into the many ways something may be taken.
Brother: So, it’s not missing information but missing the intention or direction the provided information is being directed?
Coach: Yes!
Brother: This makes sense. It’s important not to agree or disagree with any equivocal statement without better understanding of its intention and direction.
Coach: Good, me as well.  That’s why clarity is important on statements that can be taken more than one way.
Brother: Yes.  It was critical thinking that prompted me to question this statement for further explanation. It simply didn’t fit the direction I was taking it.
Coach: Yes and you sensed the statement, as it was taken by you initially, didn’t agree with your understanding of Masonry.
Brother: Yes!
Coach: But in my responses, you also sensed that there was something that you could be missing, so you sought more information.
Brother: I did.


Coach: And I provided you information that reframed and directed it – its applied focus.
Brother: Yes. Thanks.  After receiving your response, I can happily say that “YES, I support your statement” and I enjoyed your clear explanation.
Coach: Thanks for letting me know.
Brother: You’re welcome. I hope you do not consider my comments as a criticism.
Coach: I don’t.  They are spot on for what was intended.
Brother: I enjoyed reading your explanations and find them stimulating.
Coach:  Thanks Brother. Would you like some reflection?
Brother: Sure.
Coach: It was your critical thinking that led you to disagree.
Brother: Yes.
Coach: It was also your critical thinking that led you to agree.
Brother: I see that as well.
Coach: Your ability to critically think didn't change; your view of what was offered did.
Brother: I see that too!

Look for the Dangle

Coach: Yes, my statement was dangling, like bait, for anyone who cared to feast upon it.
Brother: Yes, you do tend to do that often. Like an open door, your posts invite discourse like this and sometime provokingly so.
Coach: Yes, thanks for recognizing this. It was designed to provoke thought in the reader. Did I succeed in my intent?
Brother: I think so.
Coach: Did it open the door to discourse?
Brother: I'd say “absolutely!”
Coach: What's interesting is that you found fallacy at first, not knowing the intent.
Brother: Yes.
Coach: With more Light, you found truth.
Brother: Yes indeed!


Coach: The truth behind this statement's creation is that it should be read more than one way and when this occurs, I hope a smile grows where there was none moments before.
Brother: Your intention was very good indeed my Brother.
Coach: Thanks!
Brother: Sometimes I like to exchange comments rather than just pass them by without further exchanges.
Coach:  Me too! So, how was the example I provided to you?
Brother: Example?
Coach: Yes, the example that you asked for initially.
Brother: Oh!  You mean your initial response to my “What can you tell me about masonry that might get me thinking in ways I had not thought of before” question?
Coach: Yes, that one.
Brother: You did it. Masonry is about thinking, but in ways that require you to look into things deeper than just the face value of first impression.  

The Twist

Coach: You’re most welcome my Brother. I have a request of you.
Brother: What's that?
Coach: I’d like you to go back and revisit the very first question you asked in our communication and my response.
Brother: Okay. I can do this. What would you like for me to look for?
Coach: Context.
Brother: Context?
Coach: Yes, look at the question and examine my first response to your query.
Brother: Okay, done!
Coach: What do you see?
Brother: You delivered exactly what I asked for…
Coach: …but…
Brother: …but I got swept away by how I took your response never realizing your entire response was to get me thinking in new directions.
Coach: Indeed!
Brother: It was hidden in plain sight... I was blinded by assumptions... hey, wait a minute...
Coach: Yes?
Brother: Isn’t Freemasonic Ritual full of references and allusions that can be misunderstood or taken wrong when one is assumptive, or even worse, symbolically or rhetorically illiterate?
Coach: Yes, and they usually are.
Brother: Wow!
Coach: So, did you think in any new directions today?
Brother: I’ll say I did.
Coach: Good.