From the Craft
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DO WE THINK THIS WAY?
DO WE THINK THIS WAY?
I thank you for this great honor that you have bestowed upon me as your newly elected Deputy Grand Master. Let me assure you that I am fully aware of the duties and responsibilities I have to Freemasonry and to you.
Let me also emphasize my belief that Masonry is not a paper form with check boxes by which we attain degrees, titles and honors. Rather, Freemasonry is a “Force”, a force which guides our lives and enhances our character; it is a Life Force for cultural, spiritual and moral development. As with any force it requires fuel to sustain it; it is you and me, the individual members of our great Fraternal Order that provides that fuel. We do so by our dedication to studies, our discussions, our research, our ever faithful interest in and support of our lodge as we seek the light of self knowledge, self understanding and self improvement. If we perform all of these activities, we will provide the necessary fuel that will maintain our Fraternity in a healthy state.
Let me also affirm another of my beliefs that if we think masonically so can we achieve the resoluteness to act masonically be it in lodge among our Brothers, or within the ranks of the profane. Thus, by example, we can begin to elevate ourselves, those around us and those, as yet, unknown to us, to a higher moral plane as we, together, seek to improve mankind and the world.
To build a better world based on sound principles is our true destiny. I was once told that compromise of opinion is what makes the world go ‘round, but compromise your (Masonic) principles and they, as well as you, will surely cease to be relevant. Brethren, our Masonic principles are as relevant today as they were over 200 years ago. Our moral code and character development are needed today more than anytime in our history.
Education and enlightenment are the necessities and encouragement needed by our new and older members if we are to regain relevancy in an indifferent secular society. Thinking and acting masonically is the glue which binds us Craftsman to our history and ensures its future. Whether or not that glue is evenly distributed among our members now can change quickly and with immediate impact, if we will only open our hearts and minds to the teachings of our Fraternal Order.
Let us consider for a moment our newly made Brother who has been made a member of the Lodge following due investigation. In an ideal situation he comes to us with an open and receptive mind. His talents are put to good use as he prepares himself for each degree. So as to avoid learning and reciting the work in a parrot-like or rote fashion, it is most desirable that he have an inquiring mind; such that will motivate him to seek the hidden truths and real meanings so carefully concealed in the allegories and symbolism of the degrees.
Explanations should be available to him from his coach/mentor at all times and when he has been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason he should be guided to the many sources of further light so that he may better prepare himself so as to complete that spiritual building within as he strives to become a better person than he now is.
During my visits to lodges throughout our Masonic jurisdiction I would at times accumulate the total number of years of Masonic experience represented by those present; that number ranged from 200 to over 400 years. But when I ask if that knowledge and experience was being passed on through an education program to the lesser informed the answer was always negative. I would think to myself; WOW, what a waste.
I conclude that our senior members and some of our younger members who have excelled in knowledge have an inherent responsibility to instill in the minds of the lesser informed Brothers the true meaning and intent of our Masonic teachings so as to enhance their understanding of our Masonic principles that they too may advance toward that level of perfection as represented by the perfect ashlar.
It is understood that one cannot introduce innovations into the body of Freemasonry. However, that does not mean that we cannot nor should not insert something of ourselves into Freemasonry. Those of us who participate in degree conferrals have inherent duties and responsibilities to not only speak the words but to deliver their meaning. Our tone of voice, our face and body language, our entire demeanor must come together so that the solemnity of the event is transformed from our heart to the heart of the candidate. Together with the words there must be a feeling that the lessons are not related to life, but are life.
The great purpose of Masonry then is to create and maintain a system of moral development which provides a path for self improvement that will culminate in a better world. This brings me to the subject of “individual responsibility”. To instill this point into the hearts and minds of us all I will quote the following from “Foreign Countries” by Claudy:
“Freemasonry, in conferring the distinction of the Entered Apprentice Degree, brings her initiate through a green pasture, to lie down beside the still water of her truth. But there lives not the Grand Master of any jurisdiction, all powerful in Freemasonry though he is, who can make him drink of those waters; there lives not the man, be he king, prince or potentate, with no matter what temporal power or what strength of army or of wealth, who can force him through the door his Brethren have swung wide”.
“To all initiates, then let it be said: The pathway is before you. The staff, the bread, the water is in your hand. Whether you will travel blindly and in want, or eagerly and with joy, depends only and wholly upon you. And largely upon what you now do, soon to emerge from your swaddling clothes to be clothed in a garment furnished from on high, and how well you learn, will derive the epitaph that will some day be written of your memory on the hearts of your fellow lodge members; it is for you to decide whether they will say of you: “Just another Lodge Member,” or “A true Freemason, a faithful Son of Light.”
The leadership within the constituent lodges must take the lead in this endeavor; they must instill in the hearts and minds of the Brethren the absolute need to think and act masonically. Freemasonry does not consist of going to Lodge once or twice a month just to hear the minutes and pay the bills. We must lift our sights-after all we are the BUILDERS of our own spiritual building, or at least our forebears were. We can also be builders in our present day if we will all THINK and avail ourselves of the opportunities placed before us. Remember Brethren.....Just joining Freemasonry does not make you a Mason any more than joining a church makes you a Christian or standing in your garage makes you a mechanic. You, yourself, must make the effort; Freemasonry is only the teacher.
What say you Brethren; do you see your pathway? Are you walking upright in your many stations before the G.A.O.T.U. as you seek the light of truth? Are you doing your part as an individual Mason to “know thyself” and to project a positive image of our Great Fraternal Order? Let us now accept our destiny as TRUE MASONS and THINK. Think how we can direct Freemasonry as a FORCE in our lives and in the lives of those around us. The benefits of Freemasonry are not limited to its members but exist to the advantage of all mankind, if properly applied. First we are taught; them we become the teacher, the very fuel that will take Freemasonry into the future. Together we can make it the Brotherhood that we want it to be. I ask of you to ask of yourself; do we think this way.
RWB Bill Childers, DGM