During my masonic journey, I have found myself almost invariably comfortable with other freemasons simply because of their integrity and especially those that contribute to the harmony of a lodge. To me, it is a bonus if they practice benevolence and charity but regrettably too many are stingy. This is not evident on our lodge. The other moral guidance we have in our teachings is well developed and are desirable attributes. However, the issue of “trust” seems to need further consideration.
At the very beginning of our masonic journey, where we place our trust will demonstrate whether our faith is well founded. However, the need for trust in our lives goes well beyond the requirements of faith. The need for trust affects our lives in relationships, within families, in the workplace, in fraternal organisations, and nationally. Without trust, there can little or no confidence and this in turn tends to inhibit our creativity, investment, development and well-being. Integrity alone does not create trust but trust requires integrity.
To have trust, other essentials are required. There must be good, consistent judgment and an absence of dysfunction in organisations, especially in governments. We should be confident that our needs are fully understood, that actions are being taken in our interests, there are no hidden agendas, that immediate issues are considered in a strategic context, there is a competence to fulfil our expectations, that what we are told is the truth and that there are no broken promises. Truth is more than not lying and it demands full disclosure. Without these concerns being satisfied, there can be little or no trust and consequently no confidence. Trust is hard to earn and lost in an instant.
One of the hardest tasks is to test the truth. In the public arena, this is done by maintaining academic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. One can appreciate, therefore, why these together with freedom of association, choice, religion, movement and so on are fundamental to our democratic way of life. It has often been observed that one of the first things that a totalitarian regime does is deny these freedoms and close down Freemasonry where there is freedom of association and where every brother can “have his due”. Such regimes want to be able to act without scrutiny.
In forensic psychology, there are established methods to detect lying. Physical expression is stiff and limited with few arm movements, and arms and hand kept near the body except for rehearsed gestures. Eye movement and lack of eye contact is important but a practised stare can also be boldly adopted by liars. Perspiration and nose scratching. The timing of emotions and expressions, and expressions limited to mouth movement is relevant. A liar will be defensive, implying errors in others and have other diversions. Prepositions are dropped. Questions will be avoided by using humour and sarcasm. There may be the clever use of “half truths”, obscuration and evasion by the less skilled liars who have not acquired the art of “dissembling”. Explanations will be delivered in often a long, repetitive monotone and there will be a reluctance to offer an explanation in any other way – often the same answer will be given to almost any vaguely similar question. Liars should remember the line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act III, scene II: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." We are likely to hear more about trust in this, an election year.
Trust must always be well founded. “Eubie” Blake said “Never trust anyone who wants what you’ve got. Friend or no, envy is an overwhelming emotion.” (James Hubert “Eubie” Blake, 1887-1983, Afro-American composer, lyricist and pianist.)