In Freemasonry the authority of the Lodge resides in the Worshipful Master. He is elected by the Masters to direct it and is assisted by two other officials: the Senior and the Junior Warden. He represents, symbolically King Solomon and that is one of the reasons why he sits in the East and holds a gavel and a sword. In large Obediences, the Master is the representative of the Grand Master or the District Grand Master. The W:.M:.’s authority is based on wisdom, reason, knowledge and the capacity to judge others. As in any group of men his authority can be challenged but a well educated Master knows when that challenge is positive or negative. A positive challenge helps him to grow as a leader and helps the Lodge to fortify its columns. A negative challenge is an invitation to disrupt, to protest and, in time, a pretext for the split. Lodges are human institutions: they are born, they grow up and sometimes they died. There is nothing troubling in that. Freemasonry is not an easy experience as it depends in what it is, truthfully. If one takes FM as a gentlemen’s club probably is no more different than other amusing experiences. It will last until the group feels that there is a reason to be together. But as an esoteric institution a Lodge is more than that: is a space of human improvement, of being frank to another and pursue in the Lodge (and beyond it) a spiritual path that may lead to more illumination. Men are different from each other and the Master must have the capacity to use each one abilities according with their qualities and limitations. But the Master has one duty: not allowing the quality of works to deteriorate to such a level that there is no more speculative freemasonry and work with symbols, but a pretext to be together, telling some jokes and having some beers. He may not be understood (at the beginning) if he takes this path, but this is the philosophy of Masonic command. The Master must see beyond the appearances, see the forest and not the isolated trees. If the Master trains himself to be a leader like that, others will follow and look to imitate him. There is nobody indispensable in Freemasonry. The Master of the Lodge needs to know when the collective needs him and does not need him, anymore. In very mature (and rare) Lodges the Master becomes, after some time, the Inner Guard, the humblest of the functions in a LODGE. But still there, in that position, he is appreciated as the spirit of the Lodge, exhibiting an authority that is natural and logic. A recent elected Worshipful Master will feel a privilege to learn from the old Master, to ask his advice. In more modern Obediences this succession is not completely understood and the new elected W:.M:. uses his acquired powers to project authoritarianism and vanity as he sits in the chair of the Master. In a few months he would destroy what has been build, brick by brick, by the previous Masters of the Lodge.
Freemasonry has been a cause of hope for many people along the years. The Craft has pursued a lasting battle against tyranny and oppression, giving sense to the struggle of men to become free from the chains of servitude. It took position side by side the weak against the powerful and adverted Kings and Princes that their mandates have limits and among them were the natural rights of the ruled. It emphasised the rights of the peoples against imperialisms that arrogate themselves to be the only ones that were entitled by divine right to decide and determine the future of nations. In every battle against obscurity and superstition, Freemasonry was present and active. Freemasonry never hated religion has a system of belief and institution but had made clear that religion cannot be a pretext to put the majority aside for the benefit of a few, the ‘chosen ones’. In the fields of art, music and discoveries the Craft was also active and so many great minds gave enormous contributions to the world we live and the progress that we enjoy. There are no free lunches and some of our Brothers paid with their lives the challenges they face against the dark powers of their times. They are our martyrs, and references in the progressive cause of humanity.
What role has Freemasonry to perform in the years ahead is the one million question. Most probably to honour the courage of our ancestors, of the men who made the Craft what it is today. To continue to fight for the values of liberty, equality and fraternity that made it distinctive in the past. The battle of liberty has a new focus, a new complexity, as in any place in the world were the rights of men are trampled, Freemasonry should raise its voice and say ‘enough’. Freemasonry does not wish to become a focus of turbulence in societies that give short credit to the value of liberty but it encourages the efforts of moderates and pragmatic to overcome those restrictions.
Freemasonry encourages peaceful political transitions but never avoided to confront those who retain power for the sake of keeping power and enlarging it. Freemasons were in the past active members of revolutions. They prepare, promote and made them. In the British colonies of America, in the Spanish colonies of Latin America, in the Philippines, Freemasons were the freedom fighters. There is no reason why in new battle stages, Freemasonry excuses itself to have an active role. We should always be where are the weak and the unprotected. It is not a question of partisanship but of a correct interpretation of the world and its challenges and crisis.
Of course there were always those who see Freemasonry has a more decorative institution, a club of old men with little occupation. But these represent the past and are condemned to disappear. The future belong to those who are innovative and active, sewn with the drifts of our age.