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October 2016 GLSO Article for The Word

First-  I would like to thank the Brothers from Hamilton lodge # 120- who gave us their lodge for the masters chair training in July, made us coffee and most of all made us feel at home.  I also thank the  brothers in our district for their support and attendance.  A second masters chair training session will be given later this month for those  brothers who could not attend in July.

Second- I have heard the catch phrase ‘ making good men better, ‘ when prospective brothers have asked what is we do in masonry. I believe this is true, at the same time I wanted to have a solid answer as to how we made good men better without sounding like I was trying to sell Amway products or starring in an infomercial for the newest style zesty wipe cloth guaranteed to be strong enough to pick up spilled coffee, gasoline, small pets and the occasional escaped elephant from the local zoo. I found the answer while trying to answer a request or challenge made by the R.W. Sandy Samson at a Scottish rite event.  Brother Sandy told all of us new to Scottish Rite to look around the room and ‘ Get to know each of these men as your brother ‘;  to me, this was a major request.  Not only was the room large, but there were a whole lot of brothers in attendance.  Some men use the word brother as a loose term or slang.  I have never believed in this-  to call a man Brother is serious to me.  Very few men in my life before masonry were considered my brothers.  This was reserved for child hood friends, some of which I  have not seen in years but  know are still there when life throws a curve and the adversity and weight are to much to handle alone. The others are men who I worked with in an unforgiving environment and I knew were there when things turned ugly, even at great  personal risk to themselves. [sort of like my wife Patty, only she is better looking than my brothers]

A brother knows your secrets, your faults, your shortcomings and your fears- the reason he earns this title; the most important in masonry, is because he guards them zealously to protect you from pain. He tells you things you do not want to hear- your shortcomings-your back slides- and that the color or style of your underwear is unacceptable- { GRAND LODGE ROOM MATES } .  He tells you the truth – even when it hurts, and he risks the loss of friendship temporarily because being your brother, and being honest with you is more important than being the type of friend who tells you what you want to hear. That type of sunny day friendship  leads us  toward the rough ashlar and away from the perfect, as our heads swell from believing ourselves godlike while our thought process becomes more egocentric and our morality and humanity shrink.
 

What we do in masonry is to promote acceptance and cognitive process.  We accept each other and meet as equals- regardless of personal religion, skin color, politics or the amount of money in a mans pocket.  We value fortitude, prudence, temperance and justice- virtues that are being quickly forgotten and passed over for participation trophies and video games in a global society where morality has been traded for political capital. We look toward the future and promote a better world by giving to; and supporting our fellow man.  What we do in a nutshell is to promote hope- through the Masonic research center, Child I.D. programs, and the multitude of charities the individual brothers are involved in and contribute to.  In the safe haven of our lodges the truth can be spoken by a rich or a poor man- the word of both men is given equal weight because his integrity and pure heart have nothing to do with cash flow.  In short form- we make the world a better place through our existence; a small ray of light on the horizon of a hostile world.
 

We accomplish this feat by example.  Through the example of the worth, and moral fiber of our families-our contributions to our society; and our attempt to arrive in the next world with an unstained apron no matter how futile the attempt; with the courage to be judged on our worldly existence. Masonry is one of the last bastions of god, country, family and morality coupled with the betterment of our fellow human being-a place where our national anthem can play and not one man takes a knee.   We travel together as a band of brothers because we need support on our journey through life; quite simply, our message and values can only be preserved in our  society as in nature; while we travel as a pack; as our individual members pass or fade away, our message and example carries on.
 

When I am asked what we do in masonry , I try to paraphrase this answer.  Then I ask the man a question- the same question I ask myself everyday in the mirror.  What do you do?  Did you do anything for your fellow man today?  Did you make your family, or your ancestors proud?   Did you help a brother up or did you step over his body while he lied in the mud? In your personal life- are you practicing brotherly love, relief and truth? Occasionally I get an answer from myself I do not like;  but without my wife, family and brothers I would never ask these questions -nor care to hear the answers.
 

I am not eloquent or well spoken, my speech patterns and writing border on Neanderthal-but I give it a shot. I try to explain what we do in simple terms, with these simple questions.  To me, this is the value of masonry- to know I can not be perfect like the polished ashlar-to know my apron will not survive my life unstained-to know I can not survive the reaper- but still have the courage to try; to get as close as I can in tiny increments, baby steps, day by day to becoming a  better man.  In my caveman like mind I think of this as personal civility and  mental growth through ancient values that are on the endangered species list;  The Maxims and virtues we practice to the best of human ability are all  but extinct-but as long as masonry exists, and men of different cultures and beliefs can meet as equals our world can and will be a better place, and the extraordinary values and ideals of Brotherhood preserved.
 

Brothers,  I have bored you enough –  Godspeed, safe travels


Bart

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