Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Parade of Understanding

Today was one of those days where I didn't have much of an idea of what I should blog about. Convention is coming up next week, so I'm knee deep in preparations for that event. This leaves me little time to just contemplate something to write about. However, my daily routine came to the rescue and provided me a nugget of a post.

Each morning I make it a point to check out what is going on in the world by reading Google News. Some folks pick up the paper, while others get their news through television; I just happen to get mine via the internet. One of the plus sides of getting information this way is that I can check out stories that might not make it into the papers or onto the television. Today, I read and watched a piece created by PBS on the issues that are still occurring in Northern Ireland.

"Issues? What issues?" is probably the response from almost any active DeMolay. The only Ireland they can remember is the peaceful one that beckons tourists to come to see the Emerald Isle. However, some of the older readers will certainly know what I mean. Ireland went through 30 years of internal conflict and strife, mainly due to differences between Catholic and Protestant residents. Known as "The Troubles," the conflict was a major problem in world politics. Bombings, beatings, burnings, and other heinous crimes were committed by both sides, all in the name of fighting for faith and culture.

The short clip I watched discussed "the marching season." Each year, around July 12, members of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland gather to parade through the streets to commemorate their victory over the Catholics several hundred years ago. Many times, these parades run right through Catholic neighborhoods, which obviously brings conflict to the area. There is a whole history to this tradition, which I find mighty interesting (and which involves some heavy Masonic influence as well.) However, the part that got me thinking was the discussion the reporter had with some Irish youths.

The young men she interviewed talked about the differences they face as Catholics and Protestants. In Northern Ireland, many schools are still segregated by faith. Most young people don't have a friend of another faith tradition at all. In fact, at one point, some Catholic young men discuss their interest in meeting a Protestant to "see if they get on like us." The two worlds are really quite alien to each other.

As usual, I'm guessing most of you are wondering what this has to do with DeMolay. Seeing these young men, living in working class neighborhoods, made me think of the members of our Order. While the teens of Northern Ireland are still divided due to an age old rivalry, the young men of American can't even fathom such a situation. In our country, parades are a celebration of the community - a summer tradition marking patriotism and pride. In Ireland, young men are bussed away from parades so they don't get caught up in the inevitable violence.

DeMolay creates an atmosphere where an open dialogue about faith traditions and religion can occur. I have friends of nearly ever faith tradition thanks to our organization - Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, and more. As long as you believe in a Supreme Being, you are welcome in DeMolay. It is up to you how you interpret your faith. That is the power of our organization; it brings people together and puts them on the same level, letting them have frank discussions without any threat of judgement or violence.

My brothers, be thankful for what we have in DeMolay. It is small reminders, like this story, that show me how valuable our program is.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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