Once again, I have to begin with a disclaimer. This article is an op-ed piece. Having stated this, I am citing instruction and direction straight from our Masonic lectures and what portion of the education I can share within my obligations. So, while I am sharing my opinions about what it means to be a Freemason, my opinions are interpretations of Masonic Law.
The Basic Perception
Most people do not know a thing about Freemasonry. I’ll even go so far as to say that the majority of the general public doesn’t even know there’s such a thing as Freemasonry. Of those who do know something, the majority are misinformed.
The truly unfortunate aspect of these misconceptions is that they are further perpetrated upon the public by the uneducated. At the same time that the World is being fed lies and propaganda, our Order is struggling to counter the negative efforts with proper and correct education… of the Craft, failing to educate the public altogether!
As an institution, we joke about the ridiculous concepts of goats, Devil Worship, and the Illuminati. We do so internally which is fine for the most part, but make these jokes externally as well and it is in this action that we do ourselves the disservice. Some—as we are well aware—can not and do not take these references as jokes.
So it is that the glory, honor, and reputation of our institution is not firmly established but instead is built upon the shifting sands of the latest rhetoric. Further compacting this unfortunate lack of positive public opinion is the lack of internal consensus by the Craft as to what we are and where our focus lies as an organization.
The Boys Club
I read a recent post from a Brother back east whose family member is a pastor. Some editorials were circulating amongst the church that painted Freemasonry in a very poor light. When this Brother discussed the situation with his family member, it resulted in a sermon delivered to the congregation about judging those things that they know nothing about. This is fine and good but then this congregation was informed that Freemasonry is nothing more than a charitable boys club.
While this is certainly a benign opinion of the Craft, it is still an uneducated one. Freemasonry has never been intended as a boys club and to promulgate the idea is to do the Fraternity a great disservice. And yet, that we are nothing more than a boys club is the opinion even of some Brothers.
Is there a social aspect to Freemasonry? As I stated in my previous article, The Benefits Of Being A Freemason, Brotherhood is a huge part of the practicing Craft. Where a person goes wrong is thinking that this in the sole or primary purpose of the Fraternity. This concept, I dare state, is born of ignorance for no man who enters into their catechisms, the study of the Lectures and teachings, and understands the true messages in the ritual and ceremony could even make such a claim. Only through negligence and ignorance could such a belief be born and nurtured to maturity.
The Life of Freemasonry
What does it really mean to be a Freemason? First, it means that you are a man who is actively and continuously working at being a better man. You are minutely analyzing the works of Better Men and Deity, particularly the revealed Word of God, and applying the lessons therein to your daily life. You are learning and studying your catechisms, lectures, and ceremony. You are delving into symbolic instruction with the intent to educate yourself for the betterment of mankind, you, and Freemasonry in general. You are learning to subdue your passions, to act upon the square, to keep a tongue of good report, and to practice charity. You are avoiding all irregularities and intemperance which may impair your faculties or debase the dignity of this profession, even Freemasonry.
What does it mean to be a Freemason? It means that you are a perpetual student even upon attaining the title of Master Mason. Your work in this profession isn’t finished until you receive that ineffable reward from your Celestial Grand Master. You are rough and unworked stone, a man who is traveling East in search of Light; always traveling East. You are at once a representative of the Craft to the Public and a reminder to your Brother of the intrinsic value of Freemasonry. You are the Guide and Mentor to some and the malleable block of clay to others. You are to be well-informed and humble enough to be teachable.
To be a Freemason is to take upon yourself the heavy responsibility of all these things, to rate oneself daily examining your actions by the Square of Morality and the Plum Line of Rectitude making adjustments as necessary to forever bring honor and glory to our institution.
Ours is not a charitable boys club. Ours is a glorious vehicle of education, philosophy, and morality. The duty falls to us to see that this vision of what it means to be a Freemason is seen by all and that our actions, appearance, and words do not diminish the reputation of our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity but instead, build it up. To be a Freemason is to be forever chipping away at our rough edges in the pursuit of being that spiritual building, that fit residence of Him That Dwelleth With The Good.