S. Esfandiary, 32
While Masonry yields no direct financial dividends,
the impact of the Craft on a member’s mind and heart is what good men and
their families today fundamentally crave and need.
Recently, a Brother who is relatively young, morally sound, intellectually bright and professionally advanced, posed a rather alarming question. In a letter to me, he stated: “I am seriously thinking about either reducing my role or leaving the Craft. My heart simply isn’t in it, and despite the benefits of new and cherished friends, I just find myself questioning what I am doing in Masonic meetings rather than being with my family. I have difficulty in taking it as seriously as others do.”
I found this statement alarming for two reasons. First, I know this Brother as a true and upright Mason. This was no arbitrary or flippant remark. It was sincere. Second, in the last couple of years, I have heard the same sentiments expressed by a number of other Brethren who are young, active and successful, both in Masonry and in their professions, and I have observed the withdrawal of yet more young Brethren from various Lodges in this and other Jurisdictions. They are the caliber of Brethren who could be tomorrow’s leaders. I also realized that these thoughts and feelings, while brought to words and action by a handful of Brethren, are likely to be a subject of contemplation by many more.
Clearly, any demand the Craft makes on our time is in direct competition with a myriad of other responsibilities and opportunities-- professional, academic, social, and recreational. We live in an age where society places strong emphasis on externalities like appearances, material value, the net worth. Our society seems to regard a person’s external attributes before valuing his internal qualities. This social philosophy is just the opposite of the Craft’s where we bestow the honor of membership only on men with strong internal qualities of sound mind and good character.
As a consequence of this non-materialistic value base, we enjoy a membership of strong moral character and of great diversity. Indeed, it was Brother, then President of the United States, Harry S. Truman who, during the course of a Lodge meeting, reportedly admonished his chauffeur, also a Mason, to address him, when in Lodge, not as “Mr. President,” but as “Brother Truman.” Even to the leader of the free world, his external status was of no more or less importance than that of any fellow Mason.
At first , it may appear time spent towards the Craft could have been used better in the garnering of wealth, support of the family, or the pursuit of refreshment and recreation.
While Freemasonry can nourish each member’s heart and mind, it cannot, and should not, replace a man’s duty to provide for himself and his family. This burden is not to be underestimated, for in today’s society there exists fierce competition to attain elusive degrees of financial, professional, and social status. It is, therefore, not hard to see why so many people “live to work” and are spending more and more time, especially their discretionary time, in activities that promise to strengthen their family, not emotionally, but financially.
Freemasonry offers something entirely different--an abundance of morally, philosophically and intellectually enriching experiences, all available in a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment. While Freemasonry yields no direct financial dividends, the impact of the Craft on a member’s mind and heart is what good men today fundamentally crave and need. For it is equilibrium, personal balance and inner calm, which we derive through the lessons of Freemasonry, combined with Masonry’s universal fellowship, that serve as pillars of strength to modern man’s vulnerable heart and fatigued mind. Freemasonry provides an environment for the attainment of equilibrium and peace. These are not items of luxury, but essential life tools that help make a more healthy, dynamic, and confident person better equipped to take on the many challenges of life.
At first glance, it may appear time spent towards the Craft could have been used better in the garnering of wealth, support of the family, or the pursuit of refreshment and recreation. And if one looks no further into this issue, the expenditure of time in the Craft becomes increasingly difficult to justify, not only in the mind of the professionally active and aspiring Brother, but also in the minds of his family members who may reap no immediate or tangible benefit by their husband’s, father’s, or son’s involvement in the Craft. In fact, this expenditure of time for the Craft may appear to undermine the family’s financial status through missed opportunities and time lost. In addition, involvement in the Craft frequently comes as an inconvenience to the Brother’s family members, for instance, causing them more work in business or in the care of dependent children and parents.
Although the family members may fully endorse, support, and perhaps even encourage the man’s involvement in Masonry, the added burdens associated with his being at Lodge, coupled with today’s boundless socio-economic pressures, potentially make his involvement in the Craft increasingly strenuous, contentious and, ultimately, tenuous.
The harmonious and mutually supportive division of time between the Mason’s Fraternity, his quest for financial growth and stability, and his responsibilities to his family is an art few Masons have mastered. Frequently, a Mason feels like all these areas are undermined or, at best, put on hold when time is spent for the Craft. Similarly, Masonry’s quest for character development, moral strength, and intellectual refreshment seem disrupted or delayed when competing with the demands of family and the pressures of the financial marketplace. Yet despite their apparent mutual exclusivity, professional success, family enhancement, and Masonic involvement with its resulting inner benefits are actually mutually supportive and complementary!
The key is being able to manage all of one’s responsibilities, ambitions, and needs with equity and regularity. We may have a good sense of what we want out of life, perhaps even the wisdom to know how we might set about to achieve it. But, taking the time (as valuable as it is) to define and structure our personal goals and priorities is necessary and very beneficial. We must utilize effective time- management techniques, apply a laser-like focus towards the achievement of clearly defined objectives, and always circumscribe our passions.
These are Masonic principles that have existed since time immemorial. They are likely to survive any personal difficulties or contemporary social obstacles. Presently, we have the opportunity to utilize Freemasonry’s working tools to improve ourselves, thereby enhancing our abilities to achieve greater successes and happiness in the home and on the job. At the same time, we can be active partners and leaders in the shaping of Freemasonry’s future successes for the benefit of our children and their children. Will Rogers, American humorist and 32 Mason, succinctly stated the key to this philosophy: “If you want to be successful, know what you are doing, love what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing.”
Is Freemasonry right for you? Yes!
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