Is Freemasonry Still Relevant
Written by brother Danny Doron

Most of us have faced expressions of doubt or even of ridicule at our Craft. At times, we may also doubt the relevancy of our ancient Craft to our rapidly ever-changing society. We call our teachings "A system of Morality". Are our teachings still relevant, or is it all passee?? In order to answer this question, we should go back to our great-grand ancestors, who met in order to spiritualize or moralize as they called their philosophising. We should ask ourselves four questions:
a. Has man's need to socialize with others changed?
b. Has the need for close fraternal feelings completely give way to a need of personal achievement only?
c. Has the need to discuss or ponder on moral issues cease to exist?
d. Do all these changes necessitate a change of our moral principles?
I hope you'll agree with me that man's need to socialize has not completely disappeared. The reasons may have changed, maybe the targets as well, but the need still exists. Man remained a social animal and in spite of modern means of communication, we still need a direct human contact. If you add to this a fraternal relationship, which is based on an e m o t i o n a l affinity, and which makes us happy as soon as we know that the other person is our 'brother', we should agree that the answer to both our first questions is: nothing has basically changed! Has personal achievement become more important than a personal (emotional) touch? Has it become predominant in our daily activities? I think the answer is again NO. At the same time we should realize that when we use the term 'brother' we signify an emotional attachment, similar to that typical of the nuclear family cell. In such social groups, forces enhancing the cohesion are regarded as legitimate, whereas competition inside the group is considered illegitimate and is strongly censored. Perhaps this is why raw competition inside a lodge gives rise to strong reactions?! I hope you'll excuse my not dwelling on this too long. In any event, we enter a lodge in order to fulfill o t h e r needs. We have sufficient opportunities to compete outside Freemasonry and our lodge. It seems that when all is said and done, after having taken care of our material needs, we still need to satisfy our social and a spiritual needs. This can be done in our lodges.
Now comes the question of moral principles and whether they, too, change rapidly at the pace modern society does. It seems to me that we can all agree that basic principles of morality remain unchanged, even if their applications may change in time. Equality is the first principle that comes to my mind. "All men are equal" meant only nobility, then the bourgoisie was added, then all men, and women were last. The right of self determination turned into national rights, and these are only two examples. The principle of equality was discussed in Masonic lodges and was adopted by social reformers. It started with equality of rights (political and judicial) but is now applied as equality of opportunities, of all irrespective of race, religion and gender. The idea of welfare state is a direct descendent of moral principles first adopted by Freemasons. I hope you'll agree with me, that what we have just said means that the need to discuss moral issues with others has remained unchanged. I'll even go a step further and say, that it is a need to constantly evaluate one's own principles and adjust them when necessary to new situations. It is the constant need of a democratic citizen to check the limits of his freedom against those of his neighbor's; his rights against those of others; the limits to the majority rule.
What has this to do with Freemasonry? Everything !!! Freemasonry is a system of morality, which helps us to re-shape ourselves in accordance with an ideal moral principle. To do what Socrates called "living the good life" meaning the only life worth while; a life in accordance with one's moral principles. Do we all succeed? Do we always succeed? Certainly not !! Being normal human beings - at least I hope we are - we have human weaknesses. We do not always live up to our expectations, but at least we have undertaken to try to get nearer to this goal. Isn't it a better state, even if only by just a little step?
It is interesting, that Freemasonry flourishes in societies in which men have deep beliefs and a sense of commitment. An atmosphere in which one is considered a dumbell if he shows deep concern in social relations, a society in which people will say: "Don't bother because nothing can be changed!" as soon as one still reacts to injustice, in such a society Freemasonry cannot flourish. Do I need to say more? And yet, it seems to me that even in such a society, Freemasonry can contribute to a better social atmosphere and a greater sensitivity to all members of our society. Especially the weak and the needy. As Freemasons, we should be more aware of this.
As an organization, we refrain from getting involved in political and religious affairs, but Freemasons - as private people - are a part of an international fraternity of men who have expressed their commitment to certain moral principles and to upholding them at all times. Of men who could influence society by giving a good example. We do not preach nor do we publicize our contributions. On the other hand, we have undertaken to check and re-check ourselves constantly and try to be fit of the title "homo sapience". Are we ready to be - at least part of the time - more tentative to others and more critical of o u r s e l v e s , not of others? Will our own life become richer as a result of our being Freemasons in deed and in thought? Well, I leave this to each one of you to think it over.