By Bro. Brian A. McCollim, P.M.
Many good men join Freemasonry to learn. Most times they don’t know what they are seeking to learn, just that a male friend that they likely look up to said that they would get a lot from it. They most likely searched the internet and found 2700 (or more) different opinions and explanations. The ones who found a reasonable explanation are more likely to ask for a petition or at least inquire into a local Lodge. Many see the anti-Masonry sites and it is enough to turn them away. That is sad because so many good men are lost to fear mongering and misinformation. Many wives know that an older relative was a Mason, maybe most of the men of their families, but still shy away in fear that there are evil-goings-on behind closed doors. Why discount those relatives that they most likely respected and cared for? Indeed, in looking at the history of many small towns reveals that many founders and civic leaders that were Freemasons.
So what do we make of it? We continue to dispel rumors when possible, perhaps discuss things on social media or answer questions when we can. But the best we can do is to be a good example. Not just here and there, but everywhere, everyday. Folks believe what they see. Show them the truth. Show them that we aren’t interested in controlling the world, just ourselves. If we are successful, perhaps we can teach another to do the same. And slowly, one by one, after much investment of time and study, looking deep within ourselves we may find that a community is just a little better, or that a child in need received much needed care or that a family was fed on a holiday, or that the world became just a little better for someone. We don’t do these things for selfish reasons. We aren’t trying to buy our way to heaven with our good works and donations. We do what we have always done. We give of ourselves for the benefit of others. We don’t often look for acknowledgment or credit for ourselves, rather that goes to all, in unity. We are united in our purpose and the results, throughout history, have been staggering. A quick trip to www.pamasons.org reveals quite a lot of information. Towards the bottom of the home page are listed some of our current accomplishments.
When you see the square and compasses what do you think? Do you notice? As a Mason I find it interesting that so many of us are accused of secrecy and yet there we are with emblems on our cars or walking in parades, sponsoring blood drives, food drives and collecting clothing for veterans. If we are a secret organization, we aren’t very good at it. <chuckle> Think of the men you know that are Masons and ask yourself if they are good and decent men or not. Chances are good that they are considered decent and good in their communities. They most likely associate with good and worthy men and families and spend much time and effort on the needs of others. So what should we make of that?
The conspiracy theories abound and we are often accused of running the world behind closed doors. If we are running the world it is only because others won’t and it is quite the joke in Masonic circles. (one pancake breakfast at a time) We are concerned with the world being better for the good of all mankind, not just Masons. What we do for each other we would do for anyone. That is the mark of a good and worthy man. We aren’t a religion but we must profess a belief in a supreme beneficent being which we refer to as the Great Architect Of The Universe. We believe that the world is of intelligent design and who better to create that than the Architect of it all? Each Mason worships as he believes and prays to his own Creator as his own faith requires. We have lots of symbols that we use as reminders of our virtues and teachings. Nothing more, nothing less. Many don’t believe the truth about Masons when they hear it or read it because they have built a great fantasy in their minds and the truth can be disappointing. The rewards are great when properly applied but are much more about self awareness and philosophy that anything else. We can’t unlock magical secrets of the universe and we don’t do mind control. We just help each other become better men. What could we make of this?
Quite often we see commentary and opinions of the internet and social media. Quite often good Brethren get caught up in making Masonry seem very advanced and rather in depth. Some explore the depths of philosophy to great extents. While this is fine for some, it is quite often too much for most Masons. It is a life study program and you must actively engage the principals to improve, but far too often we are guilty of making it more than it needs to be. It can be disheartening to read comments about not being what we should be, or not understanding what Freemasonry really is. In my opinion, there are too many teachers and not enough students. And the teachers should be guides not professors. Never take those who listen beyond their limits. Mentor and guide them to a path of self discovery and watch them bloom and become guides themselves. Don’t make it more than it is.
This my friends is what I consider the roots of Masonry. It is very much what you make of it and not what others think you should make of it. The real secret of Freemasonry? Easy. “Ask One to Be One”. It’ll come to you, when you travel towards it.
–Brother Brian A. McCollim, P.M. is Secretary for Kiskiminetas Lodge #617 in Vandergrift, PA. He is Masonic Education Chairman for the 27th Masonic District, a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and is Worthy Patron/ Past Patron of Apollo Chapter 125 OES. More importantly, he is a grandfather of four and a teacher at heart. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org