Tolerance, how do we live it, how do we teach it? I have promised to remind him in the most tender manner of his failings and aid his reformation. This is in the closing charge that we hear at every stated meaning. Do we live this in our everyday lives outside of the Lodge? What is tolerance? Webster’s describes it as the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. Isn’t that one of the things we as Freemasons stand for? We come from all walks of life, different careers, different upbringings, different eras and generations in which we were raised. We are Men who are supposed meet on the level. Even though we don’t always agree, we are always Brothers. Maybe when we leave each other and have the time to contemplate what each other has said, we can understand their point of view. We don’t necessarily have to agree but we should make it a point to try and understand. Our convictions are what make us who we are as an individual. Take the time to understand that each and every one of us has a reason for the way we feel.
We have a large age disparity in Freemasonry. We are a mix up of many different generations but we are a Fraternity with common goals. Faith, Hope and Charity and the betterment of mankind and ourselves. That is what we stand for. We give what we can, be it our time, advice, a kind word when needed or monetarily to causes that are near and dear to our hearts. We all do it in our own way. To our elder Brothers, do you look down on our younger Brethren? To our younger Brethren, do you look upon our elder Brethren as being set in their ways and unwilling to change? Myself and the men of my generation are actually in the middle. The majority of the members in Freemasonry are either under the age of 30 or over the age of 65. In one of the Lodges in our District, the Worshipful Master was talking to an elder Brother and asked him why some of the older Brothers weren’t coming to Lodge anymore. He was told that they felt like the younger members were taking over the Lodge. Talking to different members from different Lodges in our District the general consensus is that most want the younger generation to step up and do their part. To the younger generation, you definitely need to do this but you still need to be respectful of the men who have traveled the same road before you. Heed their advice, listen to what they have to say but at the same time you need to cut your own path. Freemasonry is different for each and every one of us. We all take something different from it and we all want something different from it than the man next to us. That’s part of what makes us so great. Unlike any other organization out there.
Myself, I will admit I am not the most patient person out there. I have learned that I need to step away from a situation for a while and give myself time to cool down and time to contemplate how best to handle it. Brother Steve Fulton can attest to this. Many times, an issue has arisen and I tell him, this is how I am going to handle it. And believe me, sometimes it isn’t very “Masonly”. But I go home, give it a few days, think it over and the next time I talk to him, I either have a completely different perspective or it’s not even as big of a deal as I originally thought. We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. Some people need a cool down period, some don’t. The person I am right now in my life, I do, but I am working on that. That’s part of Freemasonry. We are always building that Temple within ourselves. Sometimes we need to change the blueprint of how we are building. And sometimes that takes time. But my point is, we can all change. We’re never too old, we’re never too young and we always have each other. I know that if I am ever upset, I have many, many Brothers I can call and that I can count on them for sound advice or are just willing to give me the time I need to vent.
Acceptance of each other’s views is what we need more of. Way too many people are offended by way too many things and it is pushing our country to the brink. I would hate to see that invade the Fraternity that we all love. I cannot emphasize enough that we are all different and we all think differently and that is OKAY. That is one of the principals we were founded on. As I said before, many different men of many different walks of life coming together for one common goal. Faith, Hope and Charity and the betterment of mankind and ourselves.
How do we teach tolerance? Very simply, by our actions. How do we handle a situation when something unagreeable happens? Do we act calmly or do we immediately fly off the handle? This harkens back to the Golden Rule, which by the way comes from some of the earliest writings of Freemasonry, treat others as you would like to be treated. How simple but yet beautifully amazing is that? We’ve all heard it. Do we all live by it? I know personally that it bothers me if I think I’ve hurt someone’s feelings or wronged them and I make every possible attempt to right that wrong.
I know that building the Temple can be tiring. We take some days off. But when it comes down to it, we put on our aprons, we gather up our working tools and we go back at it. Why? Because we are Freemasons, more importantly, we are Pennsylvania Freemasons. With a long, rich and distinct history. We are Brothers, we are family.
Bro. Ronald S. Townsend Jr. is serving his 2nd year as Worshipful Master of Apollo Lodge #437 and President of the 27th Masonic District School of Instruction. He is a firm believer in the use of electronic media to promote our great Fraternity in a responsible manner and bringing the Fraternity into the 21st century while still respecting our time honored traditions. His main areas of study are the history and origins of Freemasonry.