Written by Gary Wonning
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in the country we do, and how important Masonry and the Shriners has been in creating the world we live in.
We often attend lodge and partake in the degrees, leave lodge and forget how they can help us in our daily lives.
We just need a reminder, in my former life, I drove for UPS for 27 years without a chargeable accident.
I would like to think that accomplishment had something to do with my outstanding driving abilities.
That may have had something to do with it, but UPS also played a major role also.
Every morning before leaving on our on time delivery missions, we attended a three minute safe driving meeting where safe driving procedures were taught, because of those constant reminders, we sometimes achieved five,ten, or fifteen thousand consecutive safe driving days.
It would be hard to determine how many lives those simple meetings saved.
Regardless of who we are, we all need constant reminders to keep our mission fresh in our lives, so it is with masonry and the Shriners, it is so easy to forget how we came to live in this great country, and how easy it would be for it all to slip away.
Looking back, I remember one evening, I was standing in my front yard as a child, I was probably only about six years old.
At the time I lived in southern Indiana and looking towards the east, I saw Washington D.C. going up in flames. I hardly knew what Washington D.C. was, I had heard it was our nation’s capitol, but being as young as I was I didn’t realize what the city stood for.
I just knew our government was in trouble and it seemed as if it was just a few years after the turn of the 21st century. It seemed to be really troubling times.
This was about 1950, so it seemed really far off, and I pretty much forgot about it.
Several years later, in the late 80s, I had to opportunity to speak with a very knowledgeable and intuitive lady. Someone who should have been famous, but wasn’t.
She solved her first murder when she was 9, and Duke University did studies on her brain to try and discover where she gained her intuitive abilities.
She gave me the same information about the coming turmoil, repeating what I had heard in my youth.
I listened to what she had said, but it never really registered, how bad it could get, we had just survived the protests of the sixties, how much worse could it be?
She said there would be much rioting and discontent, it would be mostly confined to the major cities and if we stayed out of them we would be fine.
She said the problems would come from the way the majority of our children had been raised after the sixties, the permissiveness and lack of control many parents had over their kids, and the way American society had forgotten what had made us great.
Soon after that, I went to a motivational seminar, where Zig Ziglar and others were speaking, he said the same things, I still didn’t heed the warnings.
I took it with a grain of salt and went about my way as many others had done who had heard the same warnings, after all, our parents and grandparents had been saying the same thing for years, the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
And we all swore that we would never sound like our parents.
Most of us were raised in a different world, and we raised our kids in that world, but somehow things changed and people forgot, or didn’t think it was important to remember any more.
When the changes came they were so subtle, hardly anyone noticed.
This is how most cultures decline and finally disappear, being taken over by a more barbaric society, until they no longer exist.
Soon it was the turn of the century, and the things I had seen and was told about began coming true.
It seemed chaos was everywhere, no self control or discipline, no respect for the law, or others, profanity, everything that was right was wrong , and everything that was wrong was right.
Bad behavior became condoned and accepted, anyone who disagreed and remembered the values taught them at a younger age, were condemned and ridiculed.
The world had been turned upside down, and all the problems of the world somehow seemed to be the fault of the United States.
You hear constantly on the media and from some politicians how horrible a place the United States is, how cruel we are to minorities, the disabled, etc.
That isn’t reality,
I found during my travels, this is not the way the average person across the globe feels, that is only media and political rhetoric, designed to sell ads and garner votes by pandering to humanity’s basic trait, fear.
Many today have forgotten how to think, or reason, and logic, forget it.
Today, I would like to discuss logic and how it leads from one phase of our life to another, often without even our knowledge and how applying logic to our lives we can restore faith in America.
Logic teaches us to guide our reasoning discretionary in the general knowledge of things, and directs our inquiries after truth. A regular train of argument whence we infer, deduce, and conclude according to certain premises laid down and we are given the facilities to conceive and reason where we are able to move from one graduation to another until the point in question is finally known or determined.
Sometimes life, guided by an unseen friend, unknowingly follows logic beyond our comprehension and we wind up somewhere and learn something other than what our original intentions may have been.
Such was the case several years ago when I had the opportunity to spend some time in the outback of Australia. Originally, the purpose of the expedition was to photograph various areas of the country with the goal to publish a photo book on the life of the Australian people, including the aborigines.
This particular morning, we were on our way to Ayres Rock, or Uluru as the aborigines call it. A giant monolith in the middle of Australia, the largest sacred site in the world. It’s about five miles in circumference and about 1300 feet tall.
The bus picked us up at about 6 AM and as it made the final stop at another hotel to pick up the last two people, a cute young lady and her brother boarded the bus.
By the time the young lady boarded, the only remaining seat was next to me, being quite shy, she reluctantly sat next to me.
More interested in getting some sleep than starting up a conversation, it was nap time.
A few hours later I woke from my nap and discovered the young girl had fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Being the perfect gentleman that I am, and quietly deciding what my next move would be , I never moved so as to not disturb her.
Here I am, on a bus , 10,000 miles from home,in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of people I’m never going to see again, and I have a cute young girl sleeping on my shoulder, thank you God.
Soon she woke up, and realizing where she was, she was quite embarrassed.
Wanting to strike up a conversation, I asked where she was From. “Switzerland” was the reply. She said she was traveling around the world with her brother and her final stop would be in the United States to visit her fiance who was a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
So much for my well thought out evil plans.
She then asked about me and I informed her I was from the United States.
She then asked rather rudely, I thought,”What are you doing over here in Australia?”
Picking up my shattered ego, and searching for an answer, I replied that I was with a group of 150 photographers that were photographing various parts of the continent and were planning on publishing a book.
I asked her why she asked why I was in Australia.
Her reply,”If I lived in the United States I would never go anywhere else, you have everything there anyone could ever want or need.”
“WOW” I had never thought that before.
A 19 year old kid from Switzerland just told me something I had never really totally realized before.
I never forgot that.
A couple of weeks later, nearing the end of our journey, we entered the tiny town of Daly Waters in the Northern Territory, a couple of hundred miles south of Darwin.
After spending nearly a month in the outback, removed from the rest of the world, most of us had forgotten what day it was , it really didn’t matter as long as the driver got us where we needed to be when we needed to be there. By that time most of us didn’t want the adventure to end and remembering the day just made the time seem shorter.
As we entered the tiny village with a population of seventeen, I noticed an old C-47 with U.S. markings sitting on an abandoned runway. At the time I never thought much of it.
We entered the pub, looking for something to quench our thirst.
To our surprise, the pub was nearly full, this was unusual , even by Aussie standards. It was the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week.
I wasn’t sure what day it was, but I knew it wasn’t the weekend, we were scheduled to be in Darwin on Saturday, this wasn’t Darwin, so it had to be the middle of the week.
Getting a drink, someone asked an older gentleman what they were celebrating.
He replied they were celebrating the fourth of July.
We were startled, why would they be celebrating this America holiday?
His answer was that Australia was really appreciative about how the Yanks had bailed the Aussies out during WW2 when the Japanese attacked them.
Totally unprepared, Australia would have fallen had it not been for help from the United States.
It was gratifying to see people appreciate what America had done in the past.
It was sure a far cry from the rhetoric from the media.
I could go on and on, there have been numerous times the same theme has been conveyed to myself, and I’m sure to others as well.
Most people, even today realize, in spite of our faults, what a force for good the United States has been in world affairs.
Our local Shriner’s center has a weekly luncheon for the nobles who are able to attend.
A few years ago, a visiting noble from Massachusetts introduced himself and related how he was ninety-three years old, a world war two and Korean war veteran and how he was concerned about the direction the country was headed.
As he walked back to his seat, he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder and with a tear in his eye, said,”I just don’t want to leave this world in the shape it’s in.”
Here is a retired veteran, who has already given more to his country than most of us would even think about doing, wanting to do more.
That’s something you can hang your hat on.
In this country, We don’t fight for a president, a congress or a government, we fight for an idea, an idea born several thousand years ago and carried down through the ages by men seeking light. An idea that finally reached fruition by a group of about two hundred men a couple hundred years ago in a hot humid room in Philadelphia .
The idea of freedom and liberty, the idea that men and women should be able to choose how to live and run their lives with the least amount of government interference possible.
That is what our men and women in the military and law enforcement fight for every day of their lives.
We Americans sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in the country we do, and enjoy the freedoms most others in the world can only dream about.
The same can be said for masonry, and its appendant bodies, masonry or a version of it has been around since the dawn of time. The secrets of masons in masonry will tell you everything you need to know, to not only lead a good life, but improve the lives of others and our country.
Aside from the 13 masonic signers of the Declaration of Independence
Our country had an impressive beginning during the inauguration of George Washington as our first president.
Those who accompanied Washington during the inauguration ceremony, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, Baron Von Steuben, General Henry Knox, and John Adams, all were masons, except for Adams.
Reportedly, there were many more present, the governors of all 13 states, and many in Washington’s administration.
Many didn’t keep good records in those days, but many more were probably masons and some thought to be masons, even though there were no records to prove it , many conclude Jefferson was a mason , judging by his writings and conversations he had with others.
What do we need to do to restore faith in America?
America has lost it’s spiritual foundation, many are seeking, but they don’t know what they are seeking, the young want answers, when things go bad, as they always do, they aren’t satisfied with the answer, that it’s just :God’s Will.”
The church’s only teach about the God without, many today are looking for the God Within.
I believe that masonry teaches that.
The planet is rebooting as we did in the 60s, some things are disappearing and many others are appearing.
Many of the old ways, thankfully, are falling by the wayside, making way for a new and better version.
All we need to do is to not throw the baby out with the bath water, discard what doesn’t work and keep what works.
How do we know what to keep?
How do we change to keep up with the times and still keep what is important?
Our rituals, and basic tenets and landmarks are unchangeable.
Remember what made this country great and all the good we as Americans have done in the world.
As I try to explain in my book, “The Wisdom of Our Ancestors,” I list 39 different principles we were taught growing up that are no longer taught to many of our young people, I’m sure there are more, but that is all I could think of.
All we need to do is get back to the basics and apply the time worn principles of masonry.
The laws of nature and nature’s God,
The Ten Commandments
The golden rule.
Obviously, there were no masons as such, in times of ancient Sumeria and Egypt, but many carried the ideals of masonry, Ancient Egypt even had their version of Hiram, and there is strong evidence that rituals similar to the masonic rituals were performed in some of the pyramids, such as the Giant pyramid of Giza and the pyramid of Unas in Saqqara.
Every religion and culture has some version of these basic values, there must be some truth to them.
How do we, as masons, return our country to its rightful standing in the world and before God?
I don’t think anyone has the complete answer.
We just use logic
We can only influence those who are in our circle of influence, our family and friends by living the values that were taught us by our ancestors, and masonry.
Sooner or later, people get it. I woke up one morning and realized how smart my grandparents were, they never graduated from elementary school and had more common sense than most Harvard graduates.
Masonic tenets and symbols have always played an important part in world history, many of which have been in existence since the beginning of time.
We will never have all the answers, we just take one step forward, and follow our guide, the answers will be given to us at the proper time.
Masonic teachings have carried the world through time immemorial.
We walk by faith, not by sight.
Gary has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, while studying native cultures.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America and the aborigines of
Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has observed that many of the forgotten cultures had spiritual beliefs that were stronger than ours in modern times.
While we have advanced technically far superior to those that came before us, we have lagged behind in spiritual knowledge.
For us to advance as the human race, we need to combine the spiritual knowledge of those that came before us, not only that of the ancients but the knowledge of our direct ancestors as well, with the technical knowledge we have today for us to propel into the twenty-first century and beyond.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
Your comments are welcome