Friday, June 24, 2016

Freemason Wisdom: Will Rogers On Values

"Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."

~Will Rogers
Claremore Lodge No. 53, Oklahoma

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Abraham Lincoln, The Democrat???

"Whatever you are, be a good one."
~Abraham Lincoln

This has got to be one of the stupidest things I've seen recently.  Of course, I'll admit I'm biased because of my great love of American history.  Northeastern Illinois University dedicated the new Jacob Curruthers Center for Inner City Studies with a beautiful bronze plaque on the outside of the building proudly proclaiming "Abraham Lincoln--Democrat."  I mean seriously, even Wikipedia, who is hardly known for its factual accuracy, got it right that Lincoln wasn't a Democrat--he was a Republican!  I mean, it's pretty common knowledge... I thought.

I bet the University is aware of that oversight now. 

I understand mistakes, but this is an institution of higher learning, dedicating a building for the express purpose of study and learning . . . and not one person during the planning, the ordering, the installation, or the dedication of that building noticed the plaque was wrong? Now I ask this question:  Is that because nobody noticed it was wrong, or nobody at the institution of higher learning knew it was wrong.  Either possibility is disturbing on many levels. 

We're living in this great "information age" and the problem is, so much of the information people are consuming is garbage, and there doesn't seem to be anybody paying attention.  For some reason, these younger generations just absorb everything they see, read and hear as fact--that first quote in this piece makes fun of that sad fact.  And this story is a good example of how that stunning lack of attention to detail isn't just an internet phenomenon--it is even impacting those institutions dedicated to the preservation of knowledge and the education of our young people.  It's everywhere these days.  Just look at some of the stories that have come out in recent years just on the topic of inaccuracies in school text books alone.  It's mind boggling how some of this stuff gets into our children's books, and then implanted in their brains as facts.  Seriously, where are we getting are facts from these days when we write text books?

It's just another example of how machines continue to get smarter, as mankind seems to get dumber and dumber.  And it's frightening, especially when it comes to our ignorance of history.  We're just not teaching it like we used to--and like we should. 

As it has so often been said, in so many ways--when we forget our history, we destine ourselves to repeat it.

UPDATE 11/5/13:  I've gotten a ton of emails already today on this subject, and one was interesting.  It suggested that the plaque may be using the term "democrat" with a small d rather than a large d.  That's an interesting point.  Most people probably don't know there is another definition of the word besides describing a political party.  Why would you use the word "democrat" meaning "one who practices social equality"to describe such a well known Republican?  It makes me wonder if there isn't a political motive here to mislead people.  Most people are going to look at that plaque, as I did, and think solely in terms of political party affiliation--right?  I'm not the only one that saw it that way.  Not one of the news stories about this has even brought this up as a possible explanation.  Seriously, would you ever use the term "republican" to describe Barrack Obama?  I hardly think so, but like with democrat, there is another definition of that word as well, and even though Barrack Obama isn't a Republican (big R), he can most certainly be classified as a republican (little r).  He is the member of a Republic.  I doubt anyone would ever consider describing President Obama as a republican, because a.) that word isn't used that way anymore, and b.) it would be intentionally misleading.

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Living In The Present

I've got two acquaintances--each opposites from one another, and both miserable for totally different reasons.

I've one acquaintance (let's call him Tom) that goes through life with a sense of dread and foreboding about the future.  Tom worries about the kind of world his kids are going to grow up in.  He doesn't think they're going to have the same kind of opportunities he had.  He worries about global climate change and the great floods and death that he believes are coming.  He worries every day that he's getting older and time seems to move more quickly and there's so much he wants to do before he dies--this guy isn't even 50 yet!  He wakes up each morning with a sense of dread because each day brings the world one day closer to this cataclysmic ending he's convinced is just over the horizon. 

I've got another acquaintance (let's call her Lori) that goes through life angry and upset over things that have happened months, years, and even decades in the past.  Lori goes through life holding onto every slight, every hurt, and every insult she's ever suffered intentionally or accidentally going back as far as her memory goes.  She carries grudges for decades--so long she often can't even put her finger on the exact reason why she detests some people.  She goes through life carrying this bitterness with her everywhere, and she sees the world as a very dark place, and views everything with a judgmental eye.  Her life has become a stage play where she plays a role of a normal, happy person, but other than fooling herself, it's not very convincing.  It shows in very obvious ways.  Her anger and resentment has tainted her view of the world.  She's convinced that most people are out to get her, and that she has always been the victim.  You just can't hide that.

I don't understand either one of them.  One is stuck in the past, and the other is afraid of the future.  I don't want to live that way.  

Let's talk about Lori first.  I've been through some very rough patches in life--disappointments, anger, divorce, death, and illness. I've done a few bad things, and I've had some bad things done to me--everyone has. It's part of life.  It's part of learning.  It's part of growing as a human being and becoming wise.  But I'm certainly not going to live those painful moments over and over again by dragging them along with me everywhere I go.  Yesterday is gone.  I'm just not going to carry pain, anger, and resentment with me.  I don't want somebody angry with me over something I did, accidentally or intentionally, years ago and I'm certainly not going to stay angry with somebody for something they did to me.  You know how you go through life without regrets?  When you are wrong, you apologize, and when you are wronged you forgive unconditionally--in other words, without an apology.  It's just that simple.  But just because it's a simple concept doesn't make it easy.  I've gone back over the last fifteen years and mended a lot of broken fences.  It's a basic Christian principle to forgive and ask for forgiveness, but there is nothing more liberating than to do so, and be able to move on in life without regrets. 

And then there's Tom.  I have to admit, I worry about the world my daughters are growing up in.  I tend to agree with Tom there.  I wonder if they're going to have the same opportunities.  It's common.  I saw a survey the other day that said 65% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong course.  But I'm not going to wake up each morning like Chicken Little, waiting for the sky to fall.  You know how you change the future?  You change the future by changing today.  We've been through dark and dangerous times before and made it through.  I'm not ready to toss in the towel quite yet.  I'm not ready to start building a bomb shelter and hording supplies and ammo--I don't believe the end is near.  I believe there are still good people in this world, and that it is still very possible, and very likely, that we will steer ourselves eventually onto a better course than the one we're on.  I'll be part of the solution today rather than give up and prepare for the doom we may never come tomorrow. 

I don't have all the answers.  I have bad days, and I have good days.  I have days where I do good things, and I have days where I make very stupid decisions.  People still manage to piss me off.  I am a human being.  But I make sure I apologize when I do the wrong things, forgive when I'm wronged, and I make sure I take a moment to be thankful for the things that go right.  And every day when I wake up, I truly believe that everything is going to go the right way, and something great is going to happen.  And when I go to bed at night, I believe tomorrow is full of promise--it's a lot easier to do when you don't carry decades of emotional luggage around with you.  You can't change the past, and the only way to change the future is by changing the moment you're living in right now.  Right now is the only thing that really matters, and right now is the only thing we have absolute control over. 

The present is where the rubber meets the road.

~Todd E. Creason

Saturday, June 18, 2016

True Or False? The Legend Of Harry Truman's Silver 33rd Degree Ring

There has always been a rule that 33rd degree rings are to be made ONLY of gold.  It caused quite a stir when Frank S. Land, the founder of Demolay, had a ring crafted of silver.  And he wore it!  There's no question about it--that's absolutely true.

But years later, a rumor started that Harry S. Truman, after he received his 33rd degree, was seen also wearing a silver 33rd ring.  As a Past Grand Master of Missouri, and a former President of the United States, the idea he would have worn a 33rd degree ring made of anything other than gold caused quite a controversy amongst Scottish Rite Masons.  Some said it simply wasn't true--that Truman never owned or wore anything other than a gold ring.  Others claimed the ring he was seen wearing was actually Frank Land's ring--they were friends.  But Harry's silver ring never turned up, so as time went on most people believed it was probably just a rumor--a myth.  

When I received my 33rd degree in 2011, I asked one of the active members of the Supreme Council about the rumor that Harry S. Truman wore a silver 33rd ring.  I was told very curtly that it never existed.  I was also reminded that in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 33rd Degree Masons were to ONLY wear the ring they were given.  I wasn't to even think about buying one of those flashy 33rd rings with the lacquer and diamonds.  There were rules about such things after all.  And there was absolutely no evidence what-so-ever that Truman ever owned, wore, or had a ring like that made.  

Case closed.  It's false, right?

Well guess what turned up last December?  That's right.  A silver 33rd degree ring.  Harry S. Truman's silver 33rd degree ring no less!  And we even know now where it came from.  In hindsight, it makes perfect sense.  It was inscribed inside to  Harry S. Truman . . . a gift from Frank S. Land.

The Missouri Lodge of Research's 2016 Truman Lecture will mark the first time that both of those silver rings will be exhibited together.

But what's really odd is just about the time that ring surfaced, something else vanished!  That article I wrote some years ago claiming that ring was most likely a myth because there was no evidence it ever existed.  Odd, huh?

~Todd E. Creason
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