Be Curious....Not Judgemental
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
I am a fan of the Emmy award-winning Apple + TV show, Ted Lasso. The title character, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudekis), is a former Division II College Football coach hired to coach a Premier League Football team, AFC Richmond. Ted moves along with his trusty side-kick Coach Beard from Witchita, Kansas to Richmond upon Thames, London. Initially, he is hired by Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who is the former owner's ex-wife. She hires Ted thinking that it will help ruin the team in order to get revenge upon her ex-husband, Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head), as she believes it is the only thing he loved. However, she is slowly brought around by Ted's coaching and personality.
Ted is the personification of positivity and his personality is infectious with this trait. You can't help but cheer for him. There is a scene in Season 1, Episode 8, in the Episode: "The Diamond Dogs" which is in my opinion one of the most moving scenes I have watched in a very long time. The message it delivers is extremely powerful. The scene is structured around Ted who is playing darts against the entitled, wealthy, arrogant ex-owner of AFC Richmond, Rupert, in the local pub (The Crown and Anchor) in Richmond Upon Thames. Ted and Rebecca went to the Crown and Anchor expecting to meet with some of the co-owners of the Club of AFC Richmond, The Milk Sisters. Instead, they find out that Rupert has bought them out and has become a co-owner of the club. Rupert not only does this but announces that he is engaged. All of this he does to humiliate and torture his ex-wife, Rebecca.
Rupert and Ted make a wager. If Rupert wins, he can fill out the line-up card for the last two matches. If Ted wins, Rupert can't come near the owner's box. As the scene unfolds the men are engaged in conversation, and Rupert is beating Ted:
Shall I be giving you the lineup card now, Ted?
I shall be putting Obisanya
back on defense where he belongs.
Jeremy (Fan of the club that frequents The Crown and Anchor):
That's exactly what I said, didn't I?
Now, now, it's not all Ted's fault.
My ex-wife's the one who brought
the hillbilly to our shores.
I know she's always been a bit randy,
but I never thought
she would f* over an entire team.
Better manners when I'm holding a dart.
Mae. What do I need to win?
Mae (Owner of the Crown and Anchor):
Two triple 20s and a bull's-eye.
You know, Rupert, guys have
underestimated me my entire life.
And for years, I never understood why.
It used to really bother me.
But then one day,
I was driving my little boy to school
and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman
and it was painted on the wall there.
It said, "Be curious, not judgmental."
I like that.
(Ted throws his first dart and hits a Triple 20)
So I get back in my car
and I'm driving to work,
and all of a sudden it hits me.
All them fellas that used to belittle me,
not a single one of them were curious.
They thought they had everything
all figured out.
So they judged everything,
and they judged everyone.
And I realized
that they're underestimating me...
who I was had nothing to do with it.
'Cause if they were curious,
they would've asked questions.
"Have you played a lot of darts, Ted?"
(Ted throws his second dart and hits another Triple 20)
To which I would've answered,
Every Sunday afternoon
at a sports bar with my father,
from age ten till I was 16,
when he passed away."
(Ted throws his final dart, hitting the bullseye, winning the game and bet)
You can view the scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S16b-x5mRA
What resonates for me in that scene is that I believe it perfectly encapsulates key ideas of Freemasonry.
The first idea that resonates is Ted's humility in the scene. It's not easy to have someone insult you, especially in Ted's case where it's being done by someone that is powerful and smug. Ted's ability to subdue his passions is something that every Freemason learns in their first degree. Ted calmly retells the tale about how he improved himself due to a Walt Whitman quote he read, much like we are taught to improve ourselves in Masonry.
The second idea that the scene conveys is the act of choosing to be curious over being judgmental. As we are taught in the first degree to use the common gavel to divest our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluidities of life, we are directing ourselves to use it to help us form our rough ashlar into a more perfect one. This means that we must always work on ourselves. Ted's humility and optimism come from him choosing to improve himself, much like we must choose to improve ourselves by using the common gavel. In watching the show, you will see that Ted is someone who actively tries to be a better person because that's the choice he makes daily. He chooses to be curious, he chooses to be empathetic, he chooses to forgive and he chooses to uplift those around him.
The last idea that the scene conveys is twofold. The first part of this last idea about being curious and not judgemental applies to those people around us that we interact with, but also how we should interact with the world around us. If you read the blog, you have read article after article about Freemasonry. All of the authors here have explored it, however, I don't know that any of us have ever distilled it down to be as simple as the Walt Whitman quote. Freemasonry is about being Curious and not Judgemental. The core idea behind our tenet of Brotherly Love expresses the idea of being curious and not judgemental about other people. Furthermore, the lessons of the Middle Chamber of our Fellowcraft degree, tell us to take this same approach with our learning via the Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Curiosity is the key to learning. This applies to learning about people as well as about the world. Curious learners are engaged learners. This means that they are going to remember and retain information better than someone that is not curious. When it comes to people, if we are curious, not only are we able to really learn about them, but we are connecting with them. Our interpersonal relationships will grow when we are curious about another person, we will be able to find common points of reference or interest between us.
When we are curious, we open ourselves up to and become more observant about other experiences, ideas, and possibilities. How many of us feel that we really know the other brothers in their lodge? You might know about them, but have we taken the time to be curious enough to really get to know them? We can apply this philosophy not only to your lodge members but to others as well. How many of you spend time and energy on social media arguing with others that don't agree with your views? Do you take the time to ask them why they believe what they believe? If you take the time to be curious, you might find that you have more in common with them than you realize.
The more we are curious, and learn about something, the more we open ourselves up to different ideas and points of view. The more we question, the more we will learn about another Masonic Tenet, Truth. As we seek to gain light, we must choose to be curious. In being curious and not judgemental, we must learn from others, not judge them. We must take what we learn about others, and our world and use it to change our Masonic experience. We need to stop worrying so much about the past, but rather embrace the possibilities of the future. So let's start practicing this in our lodges and our everyday lives. Let's start being curious, and see what happens. What do we have to lose?
WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and a member of the Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.