Sunday, March 15, 2020

‘Does Masonry stop? Not at all.’

UPDATE: March 16, 6:30 p.m.
D'oh! Everything is postponed!

It is being said on social media this morning that Freemasonry is closing down everywhere due to concerns of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak, but this is not true. While grand masters throughout the United States are ordering postponements, of varying severities, of all manner of Masonic activities within their jurisdictions, the Grand Lodge of New York is governed by reason and it stands above the panic—which is really saying something considering how both the City and State are run by corrupt incompetents who could provoke hysteria in the streets with a single public utterance.

Dr. E. Oscar Alleyne
We have a secret weapon: The Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden is an epidemiologist who serves as chief program officer for the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Bro. Oscar Alleyne earned a Doctor of Public Health Degree at New York Medical College, and he has years of experience with far more serious outbreaks (H1N1, Smallpox, MERS, and West Nile, to name a few). Maybe you saw him on television last night reassuring the public.

A few days ago, at the Congressional City Conference in Washington, Oscar delivered this presentation. It runs less than seven minutes, but watch and learn.

Neither I nor anyone else is saying there’s nothing to worry about. I’m just saying remain calm. I’m a simple-minded man; I think about other past and present outbreaks that did not spark nationwide panic. The flu, Types A and B, are expected to kill 20,000 or more this season, but for reasons I won’t get into here, we’re not hearing about any of it. In recent years, we have had those MERS and H1N1 viruses, but there wasn’t—shall we say?—the same “news” media coverage.

And social media? Our problem is the avalanche of emotionally hastened decisions they inspire. Grand Master A sees how Grand Master B has ordered the local lodges closed through April 1, and so A does the same thing. Twenty minutes later, Grand Master K, not wanting to squander a chance to sound significant, orders the local lodges in his area closed through May 1.

Well, my grand master says we’re going to carry on, and we’ll just modify some behavior with common sense precautions. For example, the March 19 launch of the Horticultural Center at Utica will proceed, but without ceremony. On the home page of the grand lodge’s website, there is a letter from MW Bro. Sardone—and it’s not even the first button to click; the scholarship application deadline comes first—which provides the headline of this edition of The Magpie Mason.

So, go easy, fellas. Subdue the passions, and “Follow Reason,” as we used to say 300 years ago.

Somehow, Oscar has time to visit our lodges to share what he knows. He will take to the lectern at Copernicus Lodge 545 in Whitestone on March 24 at 8 p.m. for a discussion open to Masons, our families, and friends. I’m sure he will speak at many more lodges to help us through this.

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