Green Dragon Tavern

Masonic Reflections Freemasons And Literacy

Freemasonry is a fraternity or brotherhood dedicated to making good men better, thus making individuals stronger, their families, communities, and society. Masonry is not a religion but is a brotherhood of men that follow a system of teaching to instill all of the virtues in an individual that is key to the development of character and productive lives. No one is certain how old our fraternity is, but records of freemasons go back hundreds if not thousands of years. Thus from the first Stonemasons that built the pyramids to those that built the great cathedrals, knowledge was passed from person to person, and those enlightened or literate individuals were better enabled and “free” to provide for their selves, their families, as well as those less fortunate.

In the broad sweep of human history, we have been dependent upon oral tradition to pass knowledge, learning, and culture from generation to generation. The early development of writing, initially on stone and papyrus, was the first milestone in the preservation of ancient knowledge, tradition, lore, and history. However, since the ability to both writes and read was limited to a few scholars, shaman, and priest class, this had little effect in raising the consciousness of the masses, and in the promotion of democratic participation in one’s self-development, and that of local and regional society and culture.

Guttenberg’s development of the printing press marks the threshold of modern society, in that it ushered in the availability of the written word, and the possibility of expanding literacy to all people, with all the attributes and benefits that literacy entails.

With literacy comes the art of grammar that is the ability to arrange words in a manner that affords Excellency of expression of individual and common thought. The ability to preserve and communicate thought for present and future benefit, such as in the recordation of history, is of keen importance, for we are told that if we do not know history we are doomed to repeat it.

Rhetorical ability is honed through literacy so that we are able to both write and speak with elegance and strength of purpose. Literacy refines our logic and allows us to think, deduce, and conclude with reason and persuasion, both for our personal benefit and that of our brothers and sisters in our respective communities and on the world stage.

There were many other Masonic influences in early American history: Lafayette, the French liaison to the Colonies, without whose aid the war could not have been won, was a Freemason; the majority of the commanders of the Continental Army were Freemasons and members of “Army Lodges”; most of George Washington’s generals were Freemasons; the Boston Tea Party was planned at the Green Dragon Tavern, also known as the “Freemasons’ Arms” and “the Headquarters of the Revolution”; George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States by Robert Livingston, Grand Master of New York’s Masonic lodge and the Bible on which he took his oath was from his own Masonic lodge, and the Cornerstone of the Capitol Building was laid by the Grand Lodge of Maryland.”

Widespread literacy is the key building block, and indeed the foundation and pillars upon which rest the temple of democracy. Literacy, the ability to read and write, and its expansion to both child and adult is the greatest gift that can be given to ensure self-development, meaningful and constructive participation in our communities, and preservation of the democratic institutions we cherish, but which could only arise through mass literacy and can only survive by virtue of literacy.

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