What I get from Masonry
Eugene Goldman, Past Master
People have asked me from time to time, what I get from being a Mason.
What is it that I learned, or discovered in Lodge that makes it so
interesting or valuable to me? Why do I keep going back to Lodge,
paying Dues, serving as an Officer, spend so much time on the Internet
researching and discussing Masonry?
I don't think anyone really learns anything new in Masonry. I know I
didn't, though I really expected to. Much to my surprise I was, and
continue to be, reminded of several principles and virtues that I had
already inculcated as my own long before I became a Mason. Most, if
not all, Masons it has been my pleasure to meet also accept these
principles and Virtues as valid and true in their lives. What are
these Virtues? What are these Principles? I will enumerate and
describe them, as best I can, one at a time.
Brotherly Love: This Virtue admonishes us to regard the entire human
race as family. We were, after all, created by the same Creator, and
the tie that binds us is stronger than we sometimes think. In all
that we do, we should consider our family, known and unknown. What is
best for them, and for ourselves?
Relief: Whenever we encounter a fellow creature in need, particularly
at times when we are in abundance (but even when we are not), we
should never fail to do what we are able to relieve their distress.
Truth: This should always have the highest priority, above personal
agendas and disagreements. We must be always ready, not only to seek,
find and speak the Truth. However, we must be prepared to hear it as
well. This is not always easy. In fact, hearing an unwelcome Truth
is usually difficult. Still, hear it we sometimes must, and accept it
Faith: When we believe in something bigger than ourselves, something
greater than we can even aspire to becoming, we are humbled. Humility
inspires us to do our best. Not because we can equal the Creator, but
to imitate Him and make something of Beauty ourselves. Beauty gives
both pleasure and brings the following Virtue.
Hope: A better world awaits us. Even in this life, we may look
forward to an improved existence. Educating our Children will insure
that they will be able to make good decisions when it is their time to
do so. Here I speak not of an empty Hope, but a Hope based on the
secure knowledge that we have all done our best to make the world of
tomorrow better than it is today.
Charity: Beyond Relief (above), we should always work hard to improve
the condition of those around us. Where Relief leaves off, Charity
begins. Going beyond soothing an affliction or satisfying a need,
Charity is the act or acts designed to prevent those needs from ever
existing again. Preventing distress, not for the recognition, thanks
or acclaim, but because it improves some part of the world, is the
highest form of Charity.
Tolerance: By this principle of life and conduct we are reminded that
it is seldom necessary to prove someone else wrong for us to be right.
We do not have to cause another to fail in order to succeed. In the
60s, there was a term called win - win. Both sides of almost every
conflict can find a "middle ground" in which satisfaction may be a
shared commodity, if both sides are willing to allow the other to win
Temprence: Doing almost anything to excess is harmful. Charity, given
to excess, can leave one impoverished. Love, given to excess, may be
smothering. The effects of drugs and alcohol, when used to excess,
are well known. However, consider the effect of too much Truth.
Truth without tact (the knowledge of when NOT to say things) can hurt
feelings and even destroy friendships.
Fortitude: Without fortitude, no one can succeed. Everything gets
difficult sometimes, there is always the temptation to give in or give
up. When we show Fortitude, we learn to "stick it out" and overcome
obstacles to accomplish goals.
Prudence: The mark of a Polite person is knowing when to speak and
when not to. What to say and what not to. "To everything, there is a
season." This is not only a quotation from Scripture, and a popular
song of a previous decade, but good advice as well.
Justice: Everyone deserves to have their fair due, whatever that may
be. Like Truth, we must be prepared not only to dispense Justice, but
to have it dispensed to us. We must be able to put aside our own
wants and sometimes needs in order to insure that Justice is served.
All these Principles and Virtues are bigger than ourselves, greater
than our personal desires. Observing and practicing them, we are
making this a better world, not only for ourselves, but for all who
This is what I get from Masonry. This is why I keep coming back. To
be reminded of these principles, and learn more about them.
Have I ever seen anything I did not like in the fraternity? Yes.
Masons are human beings and sometimes human beings do not behave as
they should. Sometimes they are small, petty, childish, spitefull,
even just plain wrong. I will say this, though. I have seen far far
less of these characteristics in Masonry and among Masons in any
setting than I have seen in Campfire, PTA, Scouting, religious
denominations (ever attend a Board Meeting at a House of Worship?) or
any of the other groups I have been a member of. I have found it an
honor and a priveledge to be associated with almost every one of my
Brethren. As for those very few that need to improve themselves in
Masonry and better learn the lessons taught in their Degrees, I can
only say that I do my best to teach by example and encourage my
Brethren and Fellows to do likewise. That, to me, is what the
fraternity is all about.
The above work is the sole creative property of myself. Any member of
the Fraternity may copy it in whole or in part of Freemasonry, of
whatever Degree and affiliation, for any Masonic purpose. The author
may grant use by others on request.