A Lot of People Will Have to Die

Shortly after I entered Freemasonry, I asked one of the Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee why we didn’t recognize any of the Prince Hall Grand Lodges, as some of them were older than our own and they came from the same roots. He laid out some of the history of the attempts to do this and why those attempts failed. His closing remark stuck with me, as it’s one I’ve heard several times since then when the topic of making Freemasonry more relevant to modern men came up.

He said, ” A lot of people will have to die” before that can happen.

In other words, there are too many men locked into the old way of looking at the world for necessary changes to take place. This mindset is part of why Freemasonry has lost members for decades.


In politics, there is a similar fixation on old ways of looking at the world to the detriment of us all.

One example of this is modern American libertarianism, which is, in essence, individualist anarchism.  (I qualify it as modern & American, because the term had another meaning in other countries and in previous centuries.)

There is a strong trait within libertarianism toward simplifying politics. Thus the Nolan Chart (shown below) that seeks to place everyone into a grid somewhere along an X and Y axis, despite the many facts that such as grid fails to account for.


Thus the push to limit government to only those powers enumerated in the Constitution, despite the centuries of expansion beyond those limits. Thus the desire to cut taxes to the bone and “starve the beast” of Big Government, despite the impact such actions would have on everyone involved.

While simplicity is a virtue, not all virtues can be appropriately practiced at all times. The “body politic” (the nation or society) is not like a person’s body that can be cleansed with a detox regimen. Purging programs have real world effects on the ability of real people to survive or to improve their lives.

Slash and burn works for extreme situations where you don’t care what’s inside the fire and you’re prepared to keep it from spreading beyond reasonable bounds. If innocent people will be destroyed in the flames, you had best have a very, very good reason for lighting that match, as you will become a murderer by doing so.

The attraction of libertarianism is that it is a simple philosophy. Everyone has the right to liberty and anything that interferes with that right is wrong, that is the core belief. That no country or society anywhere has ever operated for any length of time following such a simple belief should give a reasonable person cause to stop and wonder why.

Such a reasonable person might conclude the philosophy must have some serious flaws. I would suggest it’s the very simplicity of it that is the flaw, as it ignores the web of relationships in society and the history that built that web.

Why so few libertarians apply their simple rule in analyzing Big Business is an open question. It certainly appears to me that Big Business is a more pressing threat to liberty than government, especially in the current crony capitalist system that allows Big Business to corrupt and control government.

In any case, in order for libertarian solutions to be applied, a lot of people will have to die. There is a world of difference between waiting for them to pass away so you can make changes and causing them to pass away with the changes you impose.

About Tim Gatewood

60+, male, widowed/single. Writer with a day job. Notary Public. #catdaddy Science fiction and fantasy fan, avid reader, Founder of the Darrell Awards. Author of _Getting Started As A Notary Signing Agent_ (available from https://notarymemphis.wordpress.com/books). Please be kind to one another.
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3 Responses to A Lot of People Will Have to Die

  1. Tim Gatewood says:

    Raj, I don’t think we need to dilute Freemasonry to make it more relevant. I DO think we have to end the racial divide that exists within the USA (especially the Southern states) between Prince Hall and so-called mainstream (white) lodges. We also need to get outside of the buildings and do community services that bring us into contact with the public and show our values in action, as that is the only way we will ever attract the good men who will be the next generation of Masons. Right now, the membership is dwindling rapidly, as older Masons die off and men do not see the point in joining, if they even know about the Lodge at all. Back in the heyday (right after WWII), American Masonry accounted for tens of millions of men and there really was not a lot of competing claims on those men’s time. Over the past several decades, as women have been forced to go to work just to maintain the household income (wages not having kept pace with inflation), there is no night when a married man can assume that his wife is at home taking care of the kids and his presence is not required. Unless the wife is involved with one of the affiliated coed groups (the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of the Amaranth, the Ladies Auxillary) that meets when the Lodge is also meeting, men will feel a strong pull away from the Lodge by their family and home. Some things about how Masonry is presented need to change; some things we do have to change — neither of these involve changes to the ritual, just to our practices outside of the tyled Lodge.

    As for libertarianism, I have posted articles about it here before. I was involved with the Libertarian Party for about a decade, including serving as Chairman of the Tennessee LP. After I left the LP, I started to take a hard look at the results of following that philosophy and this is why I keep coming back to the topic.

    The two major parties here and the winner-take-all nature of our elections make me wish for a more parliamentary form of government, one in which third, fourth and fifth parties had a chance to wield some real influence, but I simply do not see that happening in my lifetime. One part of the American belief in our exceptional nature is that we are the only democracy (democratic republic) that has a non-parliamentary system and we arrogantly believe that this was a mark of progress when it was adopted. While I agree that having too many parties could make things much more complicated and messy, having at least 5 or 6 would be a positive thing, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rajagopal says:

      Appreciate your views on FM. Getting out for community service may be a step in the right direction, as the outreach is bound to facilitate the process of identification of new member prospects; in fact it is a move that is overdue in lodges everywhere. I am surprised at the racial divide in American masonry extending into present day and age. I agree with you on the limited options the presidential form of democracy is offering; there must be at least four or five parties, to sharpen competition and throw up the best leadership. The present scene is just too limited…best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rajagopal says:

    Good discussion here, Tim. Rather surprised to see you, as a mason yourself, bring up the issue of diluting FM to make it appeal to modern day sensibilities. I have thought along these lines, being one myself, and parleyed on it with friends in the fraternity. As a system steeped in rituals, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols, it will only attract those people with a certain level of refinement, capable of relating to it meaningfully; to put it differently, the fraternity must only look at such people in societies, people of good, which may be diluted to basic, morals and sound judgement, with the objective of making them better citizens by getting them to appreciate its rituals and practices, and bring it to bear on their workaday lives. Hence any dilution in its practices and objectives will make it lose its character, rendering it into just another fellowship or social grouping like Rotary, Lions etc. As regards Libertarianism, it may be fine as a theoretical philosophy, but it is bound to flounder as a governing ideology. I have my own reservations about parliamentary democracy in a multi-cultural country like India. There are are just too many political parties and pressure groups and rampant corruption, with too much freedom and a free media adding to the melee, with a truly free and relatively corruption free judiciary providing a modicum of check and balance. Corruption is a by-product of democracy due to the humongous cost of elections and the need for funds, forcing political parties to somehow ensure they make money while in office as otherwise they cannot run. Democratic freedom does not mean licence. Freedom must be tempered by responsibility. If a society is not up to it, then freedom has to be restricted to allow for strong governance. Libertarianism would be an extreme form of democracy, prone to oscillate between minarchy and anarchy. In the ultimate analysis, there is no such thing as the best form of government, be it democracy, monarchy, or dictatorship. A benevolent dictatorship, as in Singapore, is good enough because it is eminently successful. As Alexander Pope rightly put it centuries ago, ‘For forms of government let fools contend, whatever is best administered is best’…best wishes.. Raj.

    Liked by 1 person

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