Freemasonry teaches that self improvement is the road to improving society. It’s slogan is ” Making Good Men Better” and that’s where its strength lies, in helping those who are good, decent men become better men. It does this through teaching values in its rituals, through lectures at its meetings, and, most importantly, through interactions among the members. When I first became a Mason, this self improvement as a means of improving society struck such a strong chord within me that it felt like an almost religious revelation.
Question: What are you here to do?
Answer: To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.
— part of the standard catechetical lecture for the Entered Apprentice (first) Degree of Freemasonry
While I remain convinced that many good men are involved in Masonry and humbled to get to spend time with them, now that I’ve been a member for many years, I have to admit that some of my brother Masons are petty, conniving, small-minded and/or prejudiced. I wonder if the self improvement just did not work for some of us.
It became clear to me within a short time of joining the Lodge that the number of men who are Masons has dwindled down to where it’s not enough for us merely to improve ourselves and let that ripple out through the communities in which we live. Unless we take an active part in our society, showing by our actions outside of the Lodge that the values spoken of in our rituals and lectures are real and that we do actually believe in them, we will continue to fade away until only a handful of members remain.
Improving yourself will certainly make a difference to those around you, those with whom you come into personal contact. The cumulative effect of millions of improved men could be massive. As membership continues to drop, the impact drops even more rapidly. It is the height of arrogance to believe that ALL you have to do is listen to rituals or lectures and that will change the world. If the values inculcated in the Lodge don’t lead us to take actions out in the world beyond our buildings, what good are they?
And, no, making donations to worthy causes is not enough. Check-book charity is not what is called for in our rituals or in the books of faith that sit on our altars as the Volume of Sacred Law.
The Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead. If we don’t put our beliefs into action, they are dead beliefs. If we don’t put our beliefs into action where others can see them, our fraternity will die, as well.
(The symbols and images shown on this page are here for illustration purposes only. As this is my personal blog, I alone am responsible for what appears on it. I do not speak for any of the groups mentioned or whose symbols appear on this or any other post. While I am a current or past member of each such group, I have not sought or received their permission or endorsement for this blog or this post.)
(For those who want to know who am I to be saying such things about the Fraternity, you can see my Masonic affiliations on this page: Tim’s Masonic Links . I am Past Commander of my Commandery of Knights Templar; Past High Priest of my Chapter of Royal Arch Masons; Past Illustrious Master of my Council of Cryptic Masons; a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason who received the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor recognition several years ago; and the founder of the Memphis Knights of St Andrew, which serves the Memphis Scottish Rite and the greater Memphis area; and I have held various offices in each of the other bodies listed at that link.)