By Andrew Hawes — Jr. Warden
Independence. It’s a strangely polarizing topic. On the one hand, everyone claims to want their independence. Children want independence from their parents… who want independence from their children at times. Nearly 250 years ago, our founding fathers decided that they needed to declare independence from the rule of Britain, and the nation we live in today is the end result of that decision. That decision, taken for granted today, was very divisive at the time – not just for the King and British Empire, but within the colonies themselves, even within each town, as neighbors turned against neighbors, and brother against brother, some fighting for their independence, and others fighting to retain the security of their livelihood, or out of an adherence to the laws of their then-lawful government. The decision to fight for independence was one that was not an easy one – it meant joining the rebellion, throwing your singular strength into the battle against a vast world-wide empire, in the hopes that you and others like you could somehow become enough of a thorn in their side that it would become easier to let us go, than to force us to stay in the fold.
It may start to sound like I’m opposed to the American Revolution, but no- I simply feel that it is an excellent example of two truths we must face in life, that there are always two sides to every story, and that history is written by the victors. We live in the self-declared greatest nation in the world, with undeniably the most powerful, well-trained and well-equipped military in the world, and yet those very rebellious thoughts which originally led our population to fight for independence from the yoke of tyranny that laid heavy upon the necks of our founding fathers have been passed along in our citizenry, leading to protests and riots in recent years, as some Americans fight against our established government to correct the wrongs that they now see being insufferable in today’s America.
Our fraternity has remained strong through the years, but not unified in our opinions. Not all of our brothers shared the same views of American Independence – Chief Joseph Brant, and Cols. John and Walter Butler were all Masons, and loyalists to the crown, fighting on the side of the British during the revolutionary war.
As Masons, we are charged to practice brotherly love and forgiveness and, especially within the lodge, to suppress those passions that drive men to fight for or against independence. I urge you on July 4th, when we celebrate our Independence Day, to remember that while our history condemns the British and those loyalists who fought against our founding fathers, while we are justifiably proud that our first president was himself a Mason, there were Masons, neighbors and brothers, on both sides of that conflict, and we should honor as well those who stood up and chose to fight AGAINST our independence....no matter how glad we may feel today that they failed to stop it.