When you become a Freemason, sometimes referred to simply as ‘Mason,’ there is a long process of learning that you must first go through, and then be able to demonstrate you have learned, almost to the point where it is incorporated into your very being. The ‘training’ is long, hard and filled with tons of memory data about things that seem to make no sense at the time. Whatever the merits of being a Mason, there is one point in the process of receiving the initial confirmation (called the 3rd degree) wherein you are marched out in front of the ‘brethren,’ to be questioned. The key question put to the applicant is always the same: “In whom do you place your trust?”

I ask you now, in this article; “In whom do you place your trust?

That question not only lays at the very foundation of the Masonic Order, it also resonates deep down inside the souls of every man, woman, and child of the human species, here on planet earth. It is a question seldom verbalized. However, it is a question that repeats silently time and again through the ages and through the life span of every individual.

How is it that we come to trust? From life experience would be the first and most effective way. We watch, we participate with others, and then we either come to trust or we do not. “Actions speak louder than words,” is a seemingly light phrase, but in reality, it has great weight and depth to it. The second way we come to trust is based upon the word of others or the documentary ‘evidence’ we might be provided or discover. The third way we come to trust is all about time. The longer we trust the deeper the trust becomes unless superseded by data or information that rebuts it.

We are all tribal, even those humans who claim to be solitary and not needing social contact or societal approval. Those who claim not to be tribal are lying about it, and probably receiving more attention and social contact because they claim not to want or need it. The foundation of tribalism is trust. The single biggest impediment to civilization’s rise is belief systems built on foundations that lack the trust of other humans. The advent of the Internet, cell phones and television have eroded those belief systems because these instruments are such hugely successful devices for using data to steer present and future behavior. Since their invention and application, trust has been on the wane, which has not led to tribal or social failure, but it has reduced the amount of happiness or bliss humans have come to feel about the potential of what we all consider life itself. We now must struggle, non-stop and all the time, to trust, and then to trust again, while at the same time winnowing our way through those things that might erode our trust, justifiably or not. Giving complete trust is not possible for human beings, not when trusting other human beings, but to have what Joe Campbell called ‘bliss,’ we must all endeavor to experience and apply as much of it as we possibly can all the time.

There are no alternate facts, there are only facts, and those things said to be facts, seen to be facts or mistaken to be facts. There are no alternate truths, there are only those things lied about to resemble truths, co-opted by magical deception to be believed to be the truth, and blatantly declared to be truths when they are not.

To trust means to BELIEVE. To believe means to think we know, and there is the divider and the combiner, both at the same time. To have facts can be totally satisfactory but ineffectual, or even downright dangerous. To be launched into space, for example, to discover by undoing one’s helmet, that space is indeed a vacuum might be most satisfying, but it would also be almost immediately fatal. To grasp a wire with tremendous but invisible voltage passing through it, in order to believe that a fatal amount of electricity is flowing through it, once done provides the same sort of proof and confirming the belief that the space helmet example allowed for. And then there are those things too remote to ‘know’ in totality because they are too distant or arcane to be able to confront personally.

We must trust others, those with superior life experience, intellect, education and/or longevity on the planet to stand in for us and provide us with the kind of evidence that will win, allow and then hold our trust. Without that ability, in the modern world, without the pursuit of that ability on a constant basis, there is no civilized society that can stand. We must pursue trust, and then give it with the same vigor we pursue facts, beliefs, and truths closer to us or more evident to us.

~~ James Strauss

Featured image created by Frank Samuelson, great northwestern artist illustrating exclusively for the Geneva Shore Report.
(Go to franksamuelson.com to view and purchase his work).

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