I couldn’t let today’s silver anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall pass without comment. Something I had thought wouldn’t happen in my lifetime was made real as I watched in suspicious disbelief as it occurred on this date in 1989. An amazing turning point in human history that, amazingly, is nearly forgotten already in the United States.
The lessons for Freemasonry are stark. Speculative builders who work in virtue and morality, in brotherly love and truth, “create societies out of freedom,” as one Mason (a total stranger) I met before my initiation phrased it. (“A lodge cannot deprive a brother of his civil rights…” Constitution and Laws, 29-27, Grand Lodge of New Jersey, F&AM.) What was wrought in the “Democratic Republic of Germany” in 1961 was an immoral and hateful masonry: cheap concrete that surely would have crumbled by now, leaving only the rebar and rocks that went into the cement. When masons are free, they can build temples and churches of resources gifted by nature and handcrafted into masterpieces. When they are not, they’ll throw up slabs of shitty cement to imprison a city. Freemasons should never forget the symbolic working tools found on the flag of the DDR: The hammer of industry and the compass of science should serve to remind us all of the versatility of any tool. What matters is the hand that wields it, or as German filmmaker Fritz Lang put it in his Weimar era masterpiece Metropolis: “The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.”
My own mementos of the Berlin Wall acquired during a visit in 1990 include
several shards of the Wall and a few East German military and political medals.