AND THE PUBLIC IMAGE
Wor Bro Clive Herron Marine Lodge - 627 I.C
Masonry teaches us many life skills not
In a lodge a Brother must speak in public,
vote on issues and eventually chair meetings.
In addition it provides opportunity to
experience administrative responsibility, ceremonial activity, fund raising and
caring. All in an atmosphere of peace, love and harmony.
Why is it therefore that Brethren will talk
freely of their membership of other service clubs but in some cases go out of
their way to conceal the fact that they are Freemasons.
This only serves to perpetuate the belief
that we are a secret society with something to hide. If the public do not know
who we are, can they be blamed for the mistrust and suspicion they have of our
Order. And in many cases we are to blame.
We must demonstrate to the public, hopefully
making our Order more attractive to prospective members that Freemasonry aims to
develop the individual as a good citizen and a man with a good moral foundation.
Other benefits to society may follow, but these come from individuals acting in
their personal capacities and not as Freemasons. At no stage must we ever
compromise our standards for admission and if we adhere to our firm requirements
that membership is open only to men of integrity, of any religion, who believe
in a Supreme Being then no person can justifiably condemn us.
The world judges us, as they perceive us. The
organisation is known not only by its member’s abilities but also their
attitudes. Going public will expose members to scrutiny, (especially being
masons) and as I have pointed out before it is the individual who makes up the
whole and public opinion will be formulated on the way the individual is judged.
An observation made by Thomas Jefferson a
former President of America “Always commit an act as though the world were
looking at you”
The world is becoming more permissive moral
standards are falling. We are however mandated to be inflexible in our fidelity
and to familiarise ourselves with the rules of Freemasonry, which we have sworn
to uphold, and then to act in conformity with them. If we do this we will be
entitled to self esteem and we will be setting a good example for others to
follow. If we cannot accept them by abiding to Freemasonry’s moral and
philosophical principles, how can we expect non-freemasons to accept them or to
join us and learn? We must remember, what we do today has a significant impact
on the future.
Changes are nevertheless taking place and it
is how we manage these changes that we will be judged.
In masonry change has always taken place.
Skilled masons left Jerusalem and travelled the world using their skills and
teaching their moral principles. With the collapse of the Gothic period in the
middle Ages membership was augmented with non-artisans and the ritual developed
stressing philosophical rather than practical lessons. The decision to change
the burning of the three great lights from oil or candles to electric light
bulbs must have in itself generated debate. Traditionalists will have to become
more flexible in allowing Freemasonry to move forward.
But in an age where man has gone to the moon
and back is old hat change is taking place at a rapid rate and these new changes
will place Masonry under extensive public scrutiny. Firstly by those who oppose
our moral standards and secondly by those who envy them but remain too bigoted
to acknowledge Freemasonry as a force of good.
In this the age of computers and cell phones
communication has become instant and views for or against can be transmitted
almost at the blink of an eye. Already a number of lodges a emailing
communications and using cell phone messaging to remind brethren of events.
Information technology has come to the forefront. The public are no longer
satisfied with simple explanations given down the line. They want new and
instant information as it happens. Based on this they will make up their minds
for or against. In the 1970’s Bill Gates predicted that we would become
dependent on the PC – He was correct. Today the computer is fast being
replaced with laptops, palm held units; even cell phones have access to the
Internet. Information is being disseminated on the move. Even libraries are
being replaced with databases. Lodges will have to own and use equipment such as
DVD players and overhead projectors to make lectures more interesting and more
in line with modern day instruction. Lodge will be able to form cyber links with
overseas Lodges and conduct joint meetings via a network. Future Masons will be
familiar with these practices in their work places and Freemasonry will be
forced to follow in order to maintain interest. Probably just as important is
the opportunity that modern technology gives us to spread the word.
Freemasonry has to expose itself to the
electronic age and the Internet and become more public. Freemasonry has a new
opportunity to sell itself to the world. With the advent of the electronic age
more has been written about Freemasonry in the last 5 years than since the
inception of Masonry in the days of Solomon.
There are many benefits to be had by becoming
more public these were acknowledged by the Grand Master M.Wor Bro Eric Waller in
his address to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, Belfast on Saturday 30
And I quote
Tremendous benefits will accrue from
informing the public about the true nature of Freemasonry, thereby achieving a
vastly improved public image. A major step in this direction was the creation of
the Grand Lodge website, an excellent source of accurate information about Irish
M.Wor Bro. Eric Waller 30 October 2004
Like it or not Freemasonry is set for change in the 21st century and like all formations the need to become transparent is paramount. To remain, or once again become obedient to our rules cannot be accomplished by urging or by enforcement, but by our self-control, which will have to be visibly demonstrated and open to public scrutiny. This is not a change we should resist as only when our pure principles and mandatory duties become the reigning reality of our thoughts and the inspiration or our acts can Freemasonry be the influence intended.