“If not us, Who? If not now, When?”
BRYCE ON MORALITY
Men join Freemasonry for a variety of reasons, right or wrong, be it to make new connections, join what they believe to be a philanthropy, to use it as a stepping stone to the Shrine or whatever. As for me, I was looking for a sense of morality. Prior to joining, I had been embroiled in business dealings with some deadbeat customers and employees. Further, I had been president of my homeowner association (talk about a snake pit). Frankly, I was beginning to wonder if there were any moral men left in the world. My father and grandfather had both been Masons, but they never pushed me in the direction of the fraternity. I had to find my own way. So, I joined the fraternity to sit amongst men who were courageously honest and their word was their bond; a sense of truth and justice.
As I joined, I was hoping to learn more about the fraternity’s concept of morality. Instead, I had to memorize and recite catechisms. True, there are words of morality in our obligations, lectures, and charges, but little else. I also discovered Freemasonry was far from being a moral society itself, where petty politics plagued not only the Blue Lodges, but also the Grand Lodges. Instead of finding ways to work together, as I presumed Masons would, I found turf wars erupting within Grand Lodges and between grand jurisdictions. This is certainly not what I signed up for, and is a turn-off to new members who face it for the first time. It’s no small wonder membership is dwindling. There is enough political intrigue in the workplace and elsewhere, and Masons want a refuge away from it. Besides, I thought we were above such squabbling and acted like men. Inevitably, I came to the realization that Masons are mortal and, as human animals, are just as political in nature as anyone else. This was a grave disappointment to me.
As we become Master Masons we are admonished to embrace the tenets of Freemasonry, which are friendship, morality, and Brotherly Love. When I first heard these words, I had a glimmer of hope. I still do. If we truly believe in these principles, we should be practicing them, both in and out of the Lodge room. My interpretation of these tenets was that Masons should be considered the “Merchants of Morality,” that it is our duty to promote morality not only within the fraternity but out in the general public as well.
When I wrote my recent eBook entitled, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” I was pleasantly surprised by how it was received by members of the Craft. I had evidently hit a hot button. I reviewed the lessons of the book in my own Lodge under Masonic Education. The older members liked it, but it seemed to particularly strike a chord with our younger members. One such member said afterwards, “This is precisely what I wanted to learn in a Masonic Lodge.” Such comments are gratifying. I had been able to engage my audience and got them thinking about morality.
When I began my research on morality I found there weren’t too many people or institutions talking about it. I discovered morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss. It’s no small wonder we find ourselves in a reactive mode of teaching morality in this country. Instead, teaching defaults to others, particularly the media who transmits questionable moral values. This is precisely why I wrote my book, to stimulate thought and help create a proactive approach to morality.
It occurred to me though, the “Merchants of Morality” have a vital role to play in this as well. I can think of no other group better suited to promote morality than the Masons. The clergy is hampered by religious barriers, civic groups do excellent work in the community but are not charged with morality, and schools are restricted in terms of defining what is morally right and wrong. So, if not us, Who? If not now, When? We should not be embarrassed of who we are and what we represent, but rather, we should come out of the darkness and offer a new age of enlightenment. Let us resolve to return to the active morality which defined us publicly and privately.
As I mentioned in my book, 73% of the country believes America’s moral values are eroding. How long will we allow this to continue? This also provides us with an opportunity: If we open our Lodge doors to the public in order to offer seminars on morality, this could greatly raise the consciousness of our communities, and it would also give Masons the chance to dispel misconceptions about the fraternity (that we are not the bogeymen people claim we are). Heck, we could even use it as a fundraiser to boot. I already know one group in Southwest Ohio moving in this direction.
If you are interested in promoting morality in and around your Lodge, please drop me a line and I would be happy to discuss it with you.
Again – “If not us, Who? If not now, When?”
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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