Intergenerational relations in Masonry

Population aging is considered the greatest social achievement of the 21st century. The increase in life expectancy, decrease in mortality, and reduction in birth rates can explain the process of human aging in the world.

This process impacts all areas of human life, for example, the economy, health, urban mobility, social issues, and human relationships. The greater possibility of children, young people, and adults living together with more people of advanced age is a great innovation of this century.

 

Generation timeline
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

In this sense, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered the next decade as the “Decade of Healthy Aging” (2021-2030).

In this WHO document, better coexistence between people of different generations, such as Older Adults, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, or Generation Z is a goal to be promoted.

In the literature, the concept of “intergenerational relationships” is understood as bonds that are established between two or more people of different ages and at different stages of development, allowing the union of experiences and contributing to unity within the multiplicity of people involved.

Therefore, it has been agreed among researchers that these relationships must be understood and applied in the logic of lifelong learning, that is, everyone mutually learns and teaches, in different living environments, not only in the family environment.

 

Family Generation
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We can thus look at intergenerational relationships in two ways. Firstly, in a negative way, when these relationships promote “Ageism”, referring to stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), and discrimination (how we act) towards others or ourselves based on age. It can lead to violence and abuse among people.

On the other hand, these relationships can be beneficial, when encouraged and systematized, in order to change negative perceptions of older and younger people, increasing civic participation and active citizenship between younger and older people and promoting a greater understanding between generations.

Thus, providing intergenerational solidarity.

Masonry is a century-old institution that presents itself as progressive, being currently concerned with and following the social phenomena through which the world is going. It is inserted in this context as a relevant social actor in the processes of all areas of human life.

Strongly linked to interpersonal relationships, their scope is to make humankind happy, therefore it involves understanding the other and their social role in established relationships, it is through these interpersonal and consequently intergenerational relationships that Masonry acts forming the social links necessary to contribute to the development of humankind.

Given this context mentioned above, we ask ourselves:

What about Masonry? Does this environment of intergenerational relationships affect our work?

Masonry is a representation of society, so the aging process also entered its scope. The aging of its members is the subject of Masonic works.

According to data presented from the Masonic Demography and Statistics of the Zippia institute (2021) which evaluated Masons in the USA, about 56% of Masons are 40 years old or older. In this document, the age group of 60-65+ years old was not discriminated. Data organized by the Secretariat of the United Grand Lodge of England (2012) showed that 65% of its workers are aged between 50 and 80 years and that the average age of new members is 44 years.

On the other hand, there is a great movement of the stores to increase the number of young members. As in the Grand Lodge of South Australia and the Northern Territory, in which 75% of its 115 new members in the year 2018 were in the 20-30 age group.

Therefore, we can see the reinforcement of the dynamics of intergenerational coexistence in our Masonic works, both due to the increase in the number of older members and the need to expand the entry of younger members.

Thus, retention (evasion) and entry (initiation) are also impacted by this intergenerational condition.

As new generations arrive to replace the current ones, it is vital that intergenerational conflicts are minimized in this coexistence, which signals the relevance of dealing with the topic in the social environment in general and in the Masonic environment, particularly so that understanding can be converted in sharing knowledge, ideas, experiences, and actions that can guarantee the continuation of the Masonic institution in the modern world and an improvement of its performance as a third sector.

Masonic evasion is an adjuvant theme in the international agenda of Masonry.

A study carried out by a Brazilian Mason (Morais, 2017), who evaluated the lodges of the da Grande Loja do Distrito Federal (GLMDF-Brasil, Grand Lodge of the Federal District – Brazil),  identified the main causes of Masonic evasion, namely;

 

 

26.3% conflicts, 21% professional issues, 10.5% unproductive meetings, 10.5% frustration, 7.9% ideas and opinions, 7.9% family, 5.3% financial issues, and 7.9% other causes.

These problems, according to the author, can be characterized as internal and external to the Lodge.

Internal conflicts represent more than 50% of the causes of dropout (conflicts, bad meetings, frustrations and ideas and opinions).

Our hypothesis is that intergenerational conflicts can promote evasion and make it difficult for new members to enter. In practice, this happens when younger members do not value older Masons, who are often stereotyped as “outdated” and “useless” for the progress of the order.

On the other hand, the older members understand that there is nothing to learn from the younger ones, only things to teach, and they block innovation, which is so necessary for the future of Masonry.

This environment of absence of positive dialogue between generations promotes these internal conflicts.

Intergenerational programs are tools that allow the exchange of resources and learning between older and younger generations for social and individual benefits. Among some solutions, based on the experience in research developed at the Center for Aging Studies at the University of Maturity, of the Federal University of Tocantins– Brazil,  we suggest some actions:

a) establishment of a Program of lectures and activities on intergenerationality in Lodges and in paramasonic institutions such as the Demolay Order, the Rainbow Order, and the Order of Job’s Daughters;

b) digital inclusion courses for all ages,

c) carrying out systematic activities in nursing homes and shelters for the elderly,

d) carrying out research on intergenerationality in the Masonry. There is a paucity of this debate in the scientific and Masonic literature.

Finally, far from ending this subject, with this article we start a proposal that reconciles scientific knowledge on the subject with the dynamics of coexistence between members.

This tends to be directly reflected in our in-Lodge work. We want to encourage this debate to encourage a Lodge to be welcoming for all generations.

After all, we ask our readers, could this be a key question for the future of Masonry?

About The Authors

 

PhD. Luiz Sinésio Silva Neto

Professor at the Federal University of Tocantins and Coordinator of the Human Aging Program – University of Maturity (UMA/UFT). Master Mason of the Grand Masonic Lodge of the State of Tocantins-Brazil.

Links: @netouma (Instagram). @luiz_sinesio (Twitter) and http://sites.uft.edu.br/uma/ (Website).

SGM- GL-Tocantins. Alexandre Modesto Braune

Most Serene Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of the State of Tocantins and Professor of Basic, Technical, and Technological Education at the Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology of Tocantins, holding the Chair of Human Growth and Development of the university’s Physical Education course.

Links: @aprendermodesto (Instagram).

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