If I were a Mason
“...I would never be a stranger in any town or city.”
“...I would be a part of the history of freedom in my country.”
“...I could work for the better future of mankind.”
“...I would know the secrets that inspired the world’s greatest leaders.”
“...I could be confident of the future, even beyond the grave.”
Freemasonry is found everywhere in the free world. No town or city of any size in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, or the western European continent is without a Masonic Lodge. The same is true in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Latin America, and many other countries. Masonry is truly universal.
Master Masons are welcome in any recognized Lodge in the world, whether as temporary visitors in their travels, or as sojourners (Masons living in a location away from their home Lodge membership). No Mason is a stranger—only a Brother one has not yet met.
Freemasons have long been leaders in the effort to promote freedom of thought and conscience everywhere in the world. Masons led the struggle for American independence: Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Paul Revere were all Masons; one-third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and of the US Constitution were Masons, and this proportion has been the same among US presidents, senators, congressmen, and judges since 1776.
Many other countries have found Freemasons at the forefront of their struggles for freedom: Winston Churchill led Britain during the dark days of World War II. John MacDonald was one of Canada’s great prime ministers. The liberators of South America, Bolivar and O’Higgins, were Freemasons. So were Garibaldi and Mazzini, the unifiers of Italy.
The Lodge and other bodies of Freemasonry offer the Brother an endless scope of opportunity to contribute to the welfare of humanity. Individual effort is multiplied when it is part of an organized and concerted group. All branches of Masonry have charitable activities, from the well-known Shriners’ Hospitals, and the Tall Cedars’ participation in the muscular dystrophy telethon each Labor Day, to homes for the aged, cancer research facilities, and activities targeted to more specialized needs (even a college dormitory at the University of Texas).
By laboring with other good men, the Mason makes civic contribution and charitable works a matter of second nature. The example Masons set is as important as their actual contribution in bringing about change and improvement in the world.
Yes, Masonry has its secrets. The truly important ones are not passwords, handshakes; and ritual; they are the secrets of self-discovery through the process of becoming a Freemason and then living one’s life as a member of the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization.
Masonic secrets cannot be learned by buying and reading an exposé of the text of the ritual. No more than one can know what it is like to be an alumnus of a college or a war veteran by reading about it, without having experienced the reality. The bond among Masons is no different, being based on the commonality of experience.
There is no mysterious power in the words of the degrees or in strange grips; these are relics of an earlier age when a traveling craftsman had to have some way of making himself known as one in possession of the skills to work on a building project. They are but means of identification—and today of no value without a paper record of some sort, in any case.
The secrets of Masonry are obtained by living and acting as a Freemason and by associating with other Freemasons. And the deepest “secrets” of the Craft are things we have always been taught but have never before truly believed until we learn and perceive them through the teachings and practice of Freemasonry. It is these “secrets” which have been an inspiration to the world’s greatest leaders throughout history, whether they learned them as Freemasons, or by some other teaching.
Masonry is inherently optimistic. It teaches its adherents that mankind, though flawed, can be improved or even perfected, just as rough stone taken from the quarry can be polished and made beautiful for the builder’s use.
Masonry teaches that injustice is not forever, that adversity can be overcome, and that not only is the world better now than it once was, by our efforts it can be made better in the future. For Masons, the Golden Age is not in the past, but is a time to come.
Masonry also is for men of sincere religious faith. Its doctrine reinforces the belief taught by religion that there is a Creator, there is divine justice, and that the rewards of a life well lived are not of this world alone. The Freemason who has taken the lessons of the Craft to heart has no doubt of the truth of the words of the Psalmist, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
Copyright 1998, 2000 by Roger M. Firestone, PM Provost, Division Six, Committee on Masonic Education & Publications, Grand Lodge AF&AM of Virginia
No endorsement or approval by any Lodge or Grand Lodge is implied by the above identification.
Permission to copy this material for Masonic purposes is hereby granted.