"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Pandemic Shutdowns Convince Men of the Need for Deeper Friendships

by Christopher Hodapp

An article in the Washington Post Monday (and circulated on MSN news) puts a spotlight on the emotional effects the COVID pandemic shutdowns have had on men. And apparently one of the most damaging is that isolation from in-person, male human contact is plunging them into deeper depression.

See 'No game days. No bars. The pandemic is forcing some men to realize they need deeper friendships.' by Samantha Smith.

Men were already spiraling into greater depths of depression over the last decade, ever since the Great Recession. In 2018, the suicide rate among men was 3.7 times higher than among women, according to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health. Even though the US government officially tabulates suicide numbers two years in arrears, countless anecdotal reports all over the country from healthcare professionals this year already confirm that the pandemic has dramatically increased these tragic deaths. 

But a Brigham Young University study found that social connections — with friends, family, neighbors or colleagues — improve a person’s odds of survival by 50 percent. Similar figures were noted by Robert Putnam in his breakthrough study Bowling Alone more than 20 years ago when he found that taking part in in-person, associative groups, clubs or regular gatherings dramatically increases life expectancy.

The article talks about online friendship discussion groups becoming more open and revealing as isolated men bare their souls to online buddies. It talks about klatches of neighbors pulling their lawn chairs out on the cul-de-sac and having heart-to-hearts with the guys next door and down the street. It talks about clots of friends exchanging text messages. But it dodges around something far more obvious with a very long track record of building emotional strength by providing a space and haven for cultivating true friendships among men who would otherwise be strangers: fraternalism like the kind you find in most Masonic lodges.

If we're doing it right, the lodge is supposed to be a sanctuary from the strife, pressures, provocations and challenges of the outside world. We do our best to attempt to eliminate from our meetings political and religious arguments - the two historically most contentious topics all throughout history that are most guaranteed to cause arguments. We stress and teach cooperation, agreement and mutual assistance. We do that to hopefully create an incubator for deep, personal friendships and lasting relationships. And we are united worldwide through the common bonds of our rituals and their teachings — it acts as a shorthand ice-breaker wherever you may be on Earth when you encounter a Masonic brother.

A constant question is repeated time after time whenever the non-Masonic, mainstream press writes about Freemasonry today: why don't you Masons admit women into your lodges? Surely your backwards, porcine, chauvinistic, misongynistic, lumpen, middle-class attitude is why Freemasonry is a throwback to Paleolithic pre-history. Freemasonry would be totally fixed if you aged Boomer dinosaurs just opened up to women. (Oh, and atheists.)

All of the dynamic of a sanctuary changes immediately when women are introduced into it — it just does, for a thousand different reasons. All of society seems to acknowledge that women need 'safe spaces,' support groups, girls' nights, hen parties, and other private settings where men may not trespass. Yet, few are willing to admit that men need them just as much, if not more. Articles like the Post's only serve to illustrate the point.


  1. I think what we need for socializing and communicating are people within our age groups with shared interests or shared experiences. Looking back over the past nine months of lockdowns and mass gathering bans, I have communicated mostly via text message and Zoom, with only a few in-person meetings that were masked and in parking lots at six-foot distances. The people I communicated with? A former coworker. A few people who share similar pre-pandemic hobby activities with me. A fellow Kiwanian. The person who introduced Freemasonry to me and is almost like an uncle to me. Siblings. It is a mix of male and female, but outside of one individual they are all within my generation. My pre-pandemic sanctuaries were board game nights and fundraiser preparation nights with men and women of my generation.

    What we need is not groups divided by gender, but groups with more diversity by age. I feel more in common with women my age than I do men who are twenty-five or more years older than me. The lodge Zoom get-togethers (for they are not tiled meetings and feel more like the small groups that cluster around the lodge room for small-talk after closing) do feel like they are "safe spaces" for Brothers, but not entirely. They seem to be increasingly safe spaces for men of specific ages and education levels and social/political worldviews, with little to moderate the conversations. When the conversation turned political pre-pandemic (as that is inevitable in any group of men of a certain age), I could just walk away from one cluster to join another. With the Zoom meeting, I cannot, and my objections to their negative statements on public health orders and masks are met with scoffs and scorn. If Freemasonry is to be a "safe space" for men, should it not be an actual safe space for all men? I am doing what I can to educate potential candidates from my generation, but there are days where it feels like an uphill battle.

  2. Good post. Some people have such amazing and beautiful personalities that it causes other people around them to feel healthier and happier. We should probably welcome such people into our lives and welcome them to join the Masonic family if they show sincere interest.

    But I think there is something special and unique about single sex organizations. Maybe it is because I was a Boy Scout and graduated from a,all male, private school. This schooling taught me that at the end of the day, all belief in a benevolent Deity is based on faith. Faith is the common denominator of those who believe and worship. So I chose to dine with the faithful and those WHO ARE TRYING TO BE FAITHFUL or wish to obtain more of what some of us have acquired. Of course, it is beyond the scope of atheists to help or share in this experience.

    But the presence of women (or the right woman) cannot be denied by men. Humans like to think we are in charge and nature has her way with us.

    Over 30 years ago I was attending a Traditional Martinist Order meeting in Seattle, WA, which is a fraternal order consisting of men and women. At this particular meeting, a strikingly attractive woman walked in to join our meeting for the first time and I observed how, at that very moment, one of our Fraters looked at that Sororer and knew I had just witnessed "love at first sight." They got married. Nature.

  3. Surely the term Supreme Architect suggests that there are forces beyond us, and suggests a humility is appropriate in thing about the universe. So is anyone with that approach to life an atheist? Isn't atheism at least sometimes an atheism about certain kinds of belief rather than an atheism about all belief? As for all male lodges, fine but offer a choice of all male or mixed.


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