The Conspiracy Theories
The number of conspiracy theories surrounding Freemasonry is almost legendary. I would not set myself up as an expert on the matter, but I know what I encounter in my everyday life as Freemason. The things I am told about Freemasonry range from the mildly misinformed to the downright loony.
Of course the conspiracy theorists love to portray us as the push behind a new world order. We have been involved in everything from Bannockburn to the assassination of JFK. No election of any note is beyond our power to influence. We control the UN, the USA, probably Britain and the gnomes of Zurich. We are at least all pervading, at worst, pernicious. WW1 and WW2 were our fault and Hitler was really a brother.
Worst of all in the eyes of many is the ceremonial side of the craft. We swear strange oaths which promise diabolical retribution should we sway from the path of fidelity. We march around a room mumbling strange incantations to mythical beings. We make odd signs to one another and offer each other secret handshakes. Our lodges are adorned with weird and, no doubt blasphemous accoutrements, the like of which is never seen in any church or other place of worship.
Then I look around the lodge room and what do I really see. Scattered around a room designed to hold many more, there are twenty or so gentlemen. They are dressed in formal attire, their ages range but generally they are older. They are plumbers, builders and accountants. Even doctors and lawyers have graced those benches. And what do they discuss in that enclosed and secretive enclave. The answer of course is little more than where the next charity dollar should be directed.
These men aren’t involved in conspiracies. They’re not terrorists or subversives. They are ordinary everyday people. Many may aspire to be something more and see the craft as a means to that end. There is nothing more sinister in that than there is in putting yourself forward in your workplace to gain the recognition and approbation of your boss. They sit at the dinner table (festive board) after the meeting and discuss the same issues that we all find so banal but so fascinating, the weather, the cost of living, lack of transport and how much their wives spend on shoes.
It is true that Freemasonry has produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers, philosophers and politicians. There is little doubt that Masonic thought and ideals guided their opinions. Why would it not? Would Voltaire have been less wise if he had been a Buddhist? If a wise Mason can convince others that his wisdom is the best wisdom for a given set of circumstances and it is him and others of like mind who carry the day on a given issue, is he involved in a conspiracy? I think not.