I have accepted a job in the Law Department of Frontier Communications (telecommunications company) in Stamford, CT. I hope to return to LA, work permitting, to visit family and to attend a few Lodge meetings. I have asked myself: “what draws a man to become a Mason?” Mere curiosity, perhaps, knowing that a grandfather was a Mason. A better question might be: “What keeps a man a Mason?” I ask because at some basic level, Masonry is almost trite. Are not the moral truths in Masonry just what we already were taught in Sunday School, or have long known: Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, the Golden Rule? Faith, Hope, Charity? Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice were virtues identified by Plato. Nothing really new there. What does Masonry add? Perhaps Masonry keeps us because it is a system to help us in our lives to operationalize the divine truths of the Judeo-Christian faith? Were the founders of Masonry concerned that people had lost the true meaning of the Master’s word: “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? To withhold love and charity from a neighbor, because he might be a supporter of King Charles II, or of William and Mary (“Glorious Revolution”), ect., must have seemed to our Masonic forbears the denial – the losing – of the Master’s word.
Masonry calls to rise above creed, political differences, rank/station, and instead to recognize the true Brotherhood of Man. Focusing on that which unites us, instead of what divides us. Let the denominations argue about the details of the ultimate destination of the immortal soul; Masonry asks only that we accept the principle of the immortal soul, and instead focus on how we live our very mortal lives, better positioning ourselves for the next. Let political differences create schism among us about public policy and nationality; Masonry instead focuses on improving our thoughts and conduct in this life, on divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life, circumscribing our desires and keeping our passions within due bounds toward all mankind.
Today in the US, we are less riven by religious denominational differences than when the Grand Lodge of England was called into public existence in early 1700s. That raison d’etre for Masonry seems a thing of the past, at least in America. Is Masonry still relevant? Political divisions remain sharp today, and are often expressed by dehumanizing and calling into question the good faith and motives of those who disagree. Masonry still reminds us that it is wrong, keeping us from loving our neighbor as ourselves. Masonry provides a peaceful refuge from all of that squabbling. But I think there is something else too that keeps men in Masonry. In our great cities, particularly, we lead lives with little interconnectedness – little Brotherhood – with our fellow man: nuclear families and individuals. Masonry serves a longing for a connection with good-hearted men, of all faiths and political beliefs, who share a desire for Brotherhood – to be linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection — and for constant reminders and practice of those truly Masonic ornaments – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.