What is a Mason?
(C) Copyright 1994, Charles H. Tupper
This question is often asked by those who are not yet members and by
those who have been in Lodge for some time. This question is often a
difficult one to answer. We know that we enjoy being Masons but do not
know how to explain this. I will try to give an overview of why we are
Masons and what Masonry is.
First we need to understand that the number one thing that people
want to know about any organization is: "What's in it for me?" This is
one of the things that is always the same in life. No one wants to
become involved in something unless they benefit from it. This question
must be answered, for if we do not know what we want from it, it matters
not what it is.
If each of us thinks back to when we petitioned the Lodge we will
find that there are striking similarities in the reasons that we did so.
Some of these are: Many of our male relatives were Masons and it was the
family thing to do; Many of the men we worked with and associated with
were masons. We wanted to fit in with the crowd. People that we
admired and respected were masons. We wanted to emulate tham and we
wanted to belong to the most respected fraternity in the world.
Freemasonry affords men the opportunity to be with others who have
the same interests. These men support one another. This applies, not
only to the activities of the Lodge, but also, to the activities of
daily life. The first degree teaches us that we should "Promote each
others welfare and rejoice in each others prosperity." When brothers
meet away from the Lodge at an impromptu gathering we see much of this
type of activity. The friendliness and genuine feeling we have for one
another is evident at these affairs.
Freemasonry is one of the few places that we can gather in confidence
that we will leave with all that we arrived with. We do not take
advantage if one of our ladies leaves her purse unattended or one of us
loses his wallet. They are never bothered. How many places can this
occur in todays world? Not very many. We are selective and do not,
knowingly, accept any man who would take advantage of others.
The teachings of Freemasonry afford the member a better chance to
live a happy life, with his chosen mate, without joining the ranks of
the throw away spouse society. We learn how to work through our tough
times and make our lives better and more productive.
If disaster should befall us we can turn to our fraternity in
confidence that help will be given. If financial aid is needed there
are avenues open to the membership that are not available elsewhere.
The Lodge will help to the best of its ability. If this is not enough
there is the Grand Lodge and it will do all that it can for the
Occasionally, one of our widows will need assistance. All she needs
to do is call the Secretary of the Lodge and the Brothers will do all
that they are able to do for her. This affords security for the mates
of our departed Brothers.
These are some of the things about Masons that make them different
from members of many other fraternal organizations. These things are
good to know but most of these are peripheral to what and who we are.
Freemasonry is a story of life. It carries joy, heartache, failure
and triumph. In books one can read its teachings, symbols and
ambitions. We do not practice our craft in the dark, but rather in the
full light of day. We are required to practice the teachings and love
we are taught by the lights of our Fraternity. No greater thing can be
said of the Fraternity that that it is an ideal way of life.
No other Fraternity offers the lessons contained within our ritual.
Every word and act in our ceremonies carries a lesson to each of us. If
we will just open our eyes, hearts, and ears as we are taught to do by
the second degree of Masonry.
We can study Freemasonry for years and each time we think about the
things we see and hear we will find new meaning and inspiriation. Each
time this happens we see more of what Freemasonry is and for what it is
intended. Great men have devoted many years to the cause of Freemasonry
and when their work is finished they have realized that they have only
begun to see the light and that they have only started to uncover the
truths contained within our ritual. I do not believe that any man has
fully understood all of the lessons that it teaches.
The meaning of being a Mason rests in education and character
forming. While it may be accepted as an innermost desire, followed by
obligations that makes us members, yet in a larger sense, a man is never
a Freemason until he truthfully and loyally lives up to his obligations.
He cannot do this until he understands them and begins to learn their
scope and meaning.
There is something inherently good about being a Mason. Freemasonry
has stood through the years with the shining light of its membership as
a beacon to the world. The greatness of the fraternity is not due to
secret teachings, mysteries, or deeds. It is due to the lessons taught
to its members by its ritual and the comfort, inspiration, and
enlightenment brought to all who will study it.
Through this study men learn more about how to live up to the
obligations that they have taken when they became members of the
Fraternity. They learn to better control their passions, prejudices,
angers, and tongues. The Freemason is different than most of the people
around him for he has the lessons of the Fraternity within him as he
walks through life. He must truly learn who he is and what he is on
this earth for.
Freemasonry offers comfort to those who sorrow, hope for those who
despair, counsel for those who err, and joy and contentment to all who
genuinely practice it. The philosophies of the Fraternity provide a
simple, but profound, solution to the problems of human relationships.
It is accepted that it is a way of life to the Master Mason who is
interested enough to appraise and value what is his, and his alone,
simply because he is a Master Mason.
Freemasonry has a solid foundation in unchanging principles. It is
an excellent training ground for ethical living and moral behavior. The
true Mason's word is his bond. What he says, he means. He practices
fairness and honesty in all his dealings.
There are three kinds of honesty practiced in this world. Cash
register honesty, business honesty and personal honesty. The Master
Mason makes no distinctions. He only knows one honesty. That is the
lesson taught by all religions: Do unto others as you would that they do
unto you. This makes the Mason different from most people in this
world. He is respected and revered by those around him. It matters not
whether he is a maintenance worker or the president of the company. the
actions are the same.
This is important to the Mason as the world around him has no clear
sense of purpose or firm spiritual foundation. To many people, the
Mason's vision of life is ludicrous. These modern times seem to be
seeking the lowest common denominator where the only question people
want answered is: "What can we get away with?" this society is fast
going toward self regulation. Self-seeking is becoming increasingly
prominent. Allegiance is becoming secondary to the selfish pursuits of
the individual. In other words, society is falling apart.
We see around us high unemployment, people who are worried about
holding on to their jobs, shrinking buying power, continual warfare in
the streets, commercialized sex, drugs being sold in every neighborhood,
crimes of every kind are on the rise, rampant consumerism that works on
people to buy things they do not need that put them into debt and
homeless people are in every major downtown area. We are living in a
throw away society where values count for less and less.
We see people more and more who do not think of the dignity and
feelings of others. They have forgotten the virtues of temperance and
prudence. These virtues can not be legislated but must be practiced for
the good order of society. Good men practice them in Freemasonry.
Justice seems to take a back seat to rights in our society. Without
justice our way of life is doomed also. We must get our society back to
the basics that have made the United States the greatest Country in the
history of the world.
My brothers, if you listen closely you will hear the good men in our
society calling out: "Masonry, where are you?" Freemasonry can help
good men to withstand the pressures of our run away society.
Freemasonry can help good men to renew the values that are needed to
rebuild our society. Freemasonry can help good men to gain the
knowledge to make our cities safe again. Freemasonry can help good men
to become better men.
Freemasonry teaches that the road to happiness is found in the
journey towards perfection of spirit, intellect and soul. Freemasonry
teaches men to reach their fullest potential. The Freemason works
toward these goals each day of his life. to aid in his journey he
studies the book of religion, the history of man, and the philosophy of
life. He cares for his family and his church. He puts forth his best
efforts for the payment he receives in the workplace. He helps his
neighbor and his community and he attends his Lodge so that he may
fellowship with others with the same aims and goals.
From the time the Entered Apprentice Mason stands in the Northeast
corner of the Lodge and is told that he "Now stands as a just and
upright Mason," he becomes a worker on the building of Freemasonry and a
guardian of the foundation stones. As society digs the earth from under
the stones of civilization he stands, ever watchful, guarding the
foundation of Freemasonry so that the fraternity will always stand tall
for what is right and good in the world.
The Freemason is a builder. The building he works on is never
finished. With every stone he lays there is another to be shaped and
set. We work together as a Fraternity to build a strong building. The
more men work and learn together, the better the building. We must
impress upon the young men of today that this building is in danger of
crumbling from age and may collapse without the labor of their hearts
We offer them brotherhood, understanding, help, encouragement and
moral support. Unless men are properly influenced and guided by
principles there is no hope for a brighter tomorrow. Not for society,
not for freedom, not for democracy, and certainly not for
Our fraternity is a bastion of morality. perhaps the last one
outside of the secular churches. We have an advantage over them because
we cross all religious boundaries and bring together men of every
country, sect and opinion in peace and harmony. We enjoy each other and
the families of one another. We have family get togethers to promote
the togetherness of our Fraternity.
When we were young and going to school, most of us had a circle of
friends with whom we did and shared everything. As we grew older and
the concerns of the world began to hem us in we became distant from this
sharing. Freemasonry affords the opportunity to regain this important
part of life. To have friends with whom we can share our innermost
secrets without fear of ridicule or reprisal is something that we can
not get in most places. We can get it from our Brothers for Freemasonry
truly regards the whole human race as one family. As we progress
through life with our brothers we find that our lives are richer, better
and more fulfilling.
When we put all of these things together we arrive at the bottom
line. This is the simple explanation that a Mason is a good man who, by
the teachings of the Fraternity, is working to become a better man and
the Fraternity is all the Masons working, one with the other, toward the
I hope this has helped some of you to understand what the Fraternity
is and what Freemasons are supposed to be like. We must all realize
that the Fraternity is made up of men who have all the frailties and
prejudices of men. The difference between these men and others is that
they are supposed to be working on themselves daily to make themselves
-- Chuck, Seattle Washington USA
Wor. Charles H. Tupper, MPS, QCCC, is Master of Thomas M. Reed
Lodge #225, SD, Walter F. Meier Lodge of Research #281, and Librarian of
the MWGL F&AM of Washington (State)
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