Diary (Inclusion and Banter)
Freemasonry is a fraternity of like minded men.
It is inclusive in that it welcomes men and is “colour blind” in respect
to where they have come from and their religious beliefs. However it is “selectively” inclusive, only
welcoming men with high moral qualities and integrity. We are included, as we say, meeting on the
level and departing on the square.
However this masonic civility cannot always be assumed and between two
people there can be “banter”. Between
good mates, this can be friendly and affectionate. However, sometimes it can be
unconstructively competitive and even veil hostility. It can take you places wise
men of honour should not go.
of banter may be to demonstrate how smart and dominant the inquisitor is, to
show off, to embarrass and make the victim uncomfortable, or the vaguely
explainable objectives some will argue of finding out more about the victim and
his areas of sensitivity, his social and masonic credentials, those who can be
trusted or to assess whether he will fit in and be able to be included: more
often than not an exchange of offensive intrusive personal jibes. The banter may be initiated under the guise
of a jocular or humorous comment. The
victim seldom sees the humour. The
perpetrator sometimes do not realise they are victimising someone.
start with small talk which is harmless and easily identified. The banter will then commence with an
innocuous remark about, say, the wisdom of the football team you follow, then a
probing observation on some controversy that demands a response – even a non response
will tell a story. There might be a
demeaning comment about your role in your profession or something else you
would normally defend. It might be about
the company you keep, your family, the car your age or a lack of head hair. Politics, religion and sexual preferences
could also be topic in a full blown banter.
There will be observations that demand a denial or knowledge that a
conclusion will be drawn by the inquisitor that you do not like if no response
may have its place on a building site or on the waterfront where a robust
physical rebuttal is not out of place, often an appropriate remedy. However it is out of order where we expect
there to be a natural courtesy between men such as in our assemblies. It amounts to bullying when the inquisitor
knows the victim places a higher priority on maintaining harmony and good
manners than his own defence.
Men need to
be able to deal with offensive bantering as one has to learn to deal with any
bullying. The best way is to not to
engage right from the outset, feint deafness and join another conservation. Do not walk away but avoid that company in
the future. What is offensive to
somebody may seem bland to another. So
avoid it altogether. Banter is likely to
be detrimental to masonic inclusion and I see no need for it in the masonic