We haven't yet placed Captain Bligh in a rowing boat and pushed him out into La Seine. He remains on the 3rd floor of his besieged bunker. He calls us a "handful" of mutineers". Except that this handful now numbers over 20,000 Brothers out of a total of 43,000 members of the GLNF in France.
Since having taken control of our Masonic future we have not gone native, or taken up with beautiful Tahitians. In fact, our Lodges continue to work calmly and harmoniously in strict accordance with our Tradition, the Twelve Rules (Landmarks) and our Rituals.
In the early days of the conflict here in the Province of Val de Loire, the G.M. suspended the P.G.M. and his College of Officers and found another crew to take the G.M.'s Shilling. After a few weeks of being rejected whenever and wherever they attempted to board and impose their rule, the very new P.G.M., (who was also a very new Mason!) weighed anchor and sailed off to calmer waters. The G.M. then found another willing, but not very able, candidate who until that point was renowned more for his Festive board joke-telling than his Masonic knowledge. After sending in an initial boarding party, this latest crew gave up and now just meets amongst itself, while occasionally firing salvos of threatening registered letters to Lodge officials to hand over their Charters and lodge regalia (purchased with their own money!).
The tension inside and outside our Lodge was intense during the first months after the brave Few dared to stand up and ask a question, and some W.M. were placed under intense stress, with physical stand-offs in Lodge Meetings as Captain Bligh's men tried to impose their will. The pressure resulted in some Lodges simply exploding, split asunder by the Gregorian knot of attempting to reconcile opposition to Captain's Bligh's continued transgressions of the Landmarks (amply described in this blog), and their desire not to lose their "regularity".
But then the Myosotis (Forget-me-not) structure was formed. This is a federation of lodges, working in strict accord with our Twelve Point Rule and our rituals. The power of the internet keeps every Brother informed on a daily basis of Captain Bligh's latest manoeuvres. This means that the subject is no longer a preoccupation at Lodge Meetings or the gossip of the Festive Board, because we have simply moved on. We still fervently want to be members of the G.N.L.F., but not of an opaque, money-spinning organisation used as a tool in France's foreign policy towards African Dictators (cf. The African Connection articles).
After a few months' pause, work in our Lodges has resumed as before. We have initiated new Brothers fully apprised of the wreck that is the good ship G.N.L.F. We have also taken special care to accompany recently Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craft. The Lodge Secretaries' paper work continues as before, and everything is in order for when we resume our place in a new, clean G.N.L.F
The nub of the matter is that Captain Bligh claims to be our spiritual guide, while our source of guidance comes from a far higher place. Sects have spiritual guides, not Free Masons. He wants to be our guiding light when all we need from HQ is someone to pay the electricity bills with our dues.
We cannot hide from the fact that question of regularity has been a major issue. The G.N.L.F. derives its regularity from its recognition by the U.G.L.E. and Captain' Bligh's crew has made much of us mutineers being beyond the pale. While it is understandable that the U.G.L.E. respects the sovereign rights of each national structure to manage its own affairs, from the very outset its senior Officers have been kept informed from numerous sources of the Captain's outrages, and yet have done nothing, even after the entire crew disavowed him at the AGM last March, and the French Courts have recently ruled that he is acting illegally.
Recognition is supposedly important for a French Mason to be able to visit Lodges in other countries. And yet, despite being Fletcher Christian's men we know that we are welcome wherever true Masons assemble, once they have understood our painful situation.
We mutineers recently received recognition in the form a standing ovation on 4th December in front of 2,000 delegates in Paris at the annual Festival of the Order of the Supreme Council for France (4th to 33rd degrees), in front of numerous international visitors. Proof, if ever it was needed, that our cause is just.
When considering this notion of regularity and recognition, there is a nuance in the translation of the English Ritual into French that is very illuminating:
English: Q - Are you a Free Mason?
A – My Brethren consider me as such.
French: Q – Êtes-vous Franc-Maçon?
A – Mes Frères me reconnaissent pour tel. "My Brothers recognise me as such".
This true, sincere recognition can only be found in the eyes of the Brother in front as you proceed with the Triple Brotherly Accolade, not in any official Passport.
And perhaps this frightens the U.G.L.E?
Perhaps they have problems of their own and fear similar occurrences in England which might lead to Forget-me-nots flowering in their green and pleasant land, if they ever come to light.
Rest assured. You have nothing to fear from us, we are not revolutionaries despite our national reputation. We only seek to progress in Free Masonry and work for the Glory of the Great Architect in accordance with our Tradition.
It is not too late for the U.G.L.E to help us, but when we prevail without its help we will never view it again with the same respect.
To remain silent faced with an injustice is to condone it.