A Call for Help

I came across a very interesting video on CNN last night. The mother and uncle of Philando Castile, the young man who’s death recently sparked the protests in Dallas, that have, sadly, lead to more deaths.

I know that like many social topics, this is one that people feel very strongly about one way or the other. As this is not a blog about social and legal issues, I will not be sharing my opinion about what is going on, in hopes of staying as nonpartisan as possible.

However, in the midst of this tragedy, an unexpected Masonic topic came up, the one of brotherly relief. Many people are well aware that there are varying signs and phrases that Masons use, with varying degrees of secrecy. What I was not prepared for, however, was seeing one on CNN. You can see it at the end of the video below.

Please note, I would not normally share or talk about this, but because it was shown on a major news network, about a major news story, I felt that it was appropriate to mention. I will not talk further about what is said, other than that it is a call for help.

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/us/2016/07/07/philando-castile-mother-uncle-interview-full-newday.cnn

The concept is, basically, that if someone calls in help this way, that as long as they are a brother in good standing, you should not judge the situation, and do whatever you can to help.

That raises a ton of questions.

What is a brother in good standing?

Theoretically, it means only a brother who is current on his dues, and a member of a Grand Lodge that is recognized by yours. But what if they’re behind on dues? What if their GL is unrecognized? About eight Prince Hall Grand Lodges are still unrecognized by their mainstream counterpart in the United States. What if they are unable to be vetted for, for whatever reason? What’s more, what if the Brother has done something illegal, and is now asking for help? Does it matter what he’s done?

How can we not judge the situation?

The short answer: you can’t. As soon as you learn about the situation, any situation, you’ve already formed some sort of opinion on it. The question is if you can put aside your personal judgement to help someone who really needs it.

What falls under “whatever I can do to help”?

Just money? Just time? Both? Do you not have to assist if you are far away? Or are you obligated no matter where you are?These questions are never answered, this is something you must answer for yourself. Much like you must not pass judgement on the situation, you should make a judgement call about what is reasonable about how much assistance is warranted, both for the situation, and yourself.

If you would like to help RW Brother Clarence Castile, who asked for assistance in the video, a GoFundMe page has been created. However, I can’t help but feel he was asking for help on a much grander scale.

3 thoughts on “A Call for Help

  1. A very thought proviking article. I agree with you that it appears that he was asking for help on a much grander scale but I am not sure what form that would take. My partner is a Past Master of a lodge in Scotland (a fully paid up Mason although he has not been able to attend a meeting for a while) and we watched the video link together. He recognised the call for help except for the last reference to lions paws. Is this reference particular to American Freemasonry or had no link at all?

    Keep up the good work with these blogs.

    • From what I have found, the mention of the Lion’s Paw is not actually part of the distress call, but refers to one of the grips of the Master Mason. It may be part of the sign in Prince Hall Masonry, but I could not find any evidence of this, so it may also just be something added on.

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