The Dream of a Philosopher
We face a major challenge with uncontrolled growth of the human population, increasing economic inequality, violence and torture, war and threat, terrorism, climate change, degradation of basic needs for life and cultural and religious intolerance.
Modern science has led us to produce unnecessary goods and the monopoly of that production in the form of capital or technological knowledge. These two powers have paved the way for some to gain wealth and to exploit nature and living beings without distinction and continuity. The accumulation of their wealth by the few, unenlightened power-hungry individuals has become easier and the natural process of equal distribution, based on one’s own ability to produce, has been completely destroyed.
The basis for the endless multiplication of attachments and desires lies in modern education and in the modern social structure that indoctrinates people to contend with each other from a young age: it creates hate in all sorts of forms. Competition means nothing but triumphing of the ego over others and that is nothing but selfishness and indifference towards others. At the present time, the geo-politics and our social system are entirely governed by the ‘free’ market economy. Political and social ideals such as democracy, human rights, cultural diversity, freedom of conscience are merely hollow words. Used as lip service.
A democratic world was a dream of the great classical philosophers. For thousands of years before Columbus, they were aware of the Western Hemisphere and chose it as the place for a philosophical world empire.
After the two world wars and various crises we stand before a turning point in human history.
Within a century our children might be waking up in the Orwellian nightmare that distopian movies fictively describe. Within the same time-frame we could also achieve a certain form of global peace in theory. The transformation of our economic, social and political systems is of secondary importance to the need for world-wide ethics, anchored in a democratic ideal.
Nobody has an advanced work plan based on the broad, deep and sympathetic needs of the human species and its wide-ranging issues. Experts recognize the need to understand the world as an interdependent structure. While recognizing the need for unity of human interests, the recommendations are often highly competitive economic policies, which, if applied consistently, will ultimately lead to war.
It is not an easy task to unite the efforts of humanity in achieving a common good. Mankind in the majority is selfish and is especially concerned with personal success and acquiring comfort. It will not be possible to build lasting peace until the average person has convinced himself that personal selfishness is detrimental to personal happiness and personal success.
That humanity is physical seems clear; But that he is also mental and emotional; spiritual and animated is less obvious. How to address these aspects is not easy because they are difficult to understand and even more difficult to classify or include in policy. We must learn that equal attention is paid to each of these elements of human beings to find solutions in which human problems no longer will unfairly unfold for human society.
It looks like our politicians have chosen to address these problems with spreadsheets, numbers and flowcharts. We can depend on humanity to do what is profitable and trough this mechanism they have tried to build this ideal. What happened is that it created a society that worships stuff and uses people.
Politicians have little or no idea of man as a spiritual being. Industrial leaders are generally not informed about the functioning of the psyche unless it involves marketing a product and thereby reduces its fellow human beings to consumers. The sociologists have little scientific knowledge of the hidden sources that influence that behavior and theologians, if they really want to be useful, must at least have a basic knowledge of human biology.
Philosophy has established its home in the world to liberate people by freeing them from their own unforgiving desires and aspirations. It acknowledged that the mind should be trained in the laws of thought before people are free to be able to rule over themselves. It knew that the democratic commonwealth can only be a reality if our world is a world of free people who can rule over themselves. Freedom is best defined in this as the sovereignty of itself over itself.
The world and humanity need a vision on its own purpose, crafted into generous idealism, big and strong enough to bind ungrateful and selfish people to something greater than themselves. It must acknowledge that in this ideal the foundations lie for all the good. This ideal must be large enough to bind all people and exclude nobody.
In an earlier discussion with some other young brothers I touched the subject of these ancient systems for a while. It is my strong conviction that our 3 degrees are based on the Alchemic formula of Salt, Sulfur and Mercury. If that is the case then every detail of the ritual that might be looked at as old fashioned will have meaning and function within the totality of the ritual. Earlier I wrote about the problems we face in society. These problems are the cause of membership decline and at the same time our Order holds the answers towards these problems.
Young people see how policy makers sell out their fellow human beings for profit and corporate interests. These mechanisms and incidents aren’t understood by young people and become fuel for conspiracies. The Odd Fellows, Freemasons and even the Rosicrucians are being framed as the source of these crimes against humanity. The ideals that spark these conspiracies might be put together by untrained minds and a dualistic nature: The ideals, on a subconcious level, are so similar to what drives us to be Brothers.
It is quite difficult to address these concerns and conspiracies but good public information is key. If you deduct our Order to charity and a social club you do damage to our rituals and symbols. It is easy to bring our Order across like that because these rituals and symbols are being misunderstood and put into context of conspiracy. Lowering the treshhold because we have difficulty finding new members and doing damage to the ritual, degrees and the symbols wouldn’t be the answer. You would miss the opportunity to plant that seed that starts a subtle process of transformation within.
The degrees of Odd Fellows guide a member through these subtle processes and, for the member who studies the degrees, a beautiful system unfolds. It awakens the mystery within the initiate and touches hidden sources that gave birth to this noble ideal that is able to give mankind this grand vision on its own purpose. It is in line with that great dream of our early philosophers.
‘We go to sleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose.’
(I borrowed words from a Tibetan Monk who made a good analysis of the current worldwide situation and the words of Manly Hall, a philosopher of the early 20th century. )
In Friendship, Love and Truth,
Teike van Baden, Alcmaria Loge no. 95, the Netherlands