Freemasonry is timeless in its charge to its members. It is bigger than its living members, bigger than its rituals, and bigger than the administrations of Grand Lodges. Freemasonry is at its core an idea that people have the power to build the world around them, and that such power is best harnessed when a commitment is made to build for the common good of all. No commitment can be made without at least two parties. In the case of the Fraternity, the commitment is made between the Brotherhood and its members.
Part of the commitment is a bond of friendship, or at least the cessation of hostilities toward others within the Fraternity. This builds a safe circle of trustworthy friends. Whereas the average person has hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, or followers on Twitter, Freemasonry forges true friends—and truly personal friends—out of men. It lays the foundation for relationships built on common values and commitments to their Deity, whoever or whatever that may be, to one’s neighbor, and oneself. Essentially this can be understood as Ethics, Morality and Integrity.
Ethics can be understood as doing right by one’s community. Unlike Morality, ethics is essentially the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We believe the call of Government itself is to create a civil society, and therefore the law created in a democratic state creates the framework of Ethics, but not to the full extent. Ethics covers a wide range of values frequently discussed in Freemasonry, including tolerance, diversity, philanthropy, family, and community.
The constant study of ethics is encouraged throughout every Degree in Freemasonry. The study of the great philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and the thinkers that followed them in the Classical age and the European Enlightenment age is strongly encouraged and even often incorporated into the degrees and lectures of Freemasonry. However, the spirit of Freemasonry encourages us to engage in conversations and study the ever-changing nature of ethics in our daily lives.
The idea of ethics is something that should be at the forefront of our decision-making as we read the news, make business decisions or take any action that affects others. Its study is more important today than ever. We now live in a world connected by digital technology and we’re experiencing a new form of citizenship, a digital citizenship, where our words written or spoken on social media can be published for the world to see. We know that some of our members have the technical power to do great good or great harm with little effort to turn their thoughts into reality.
One of the reasons for the emergence of speculative Masons was the understanding that it was not just the literal builders of cities that impacted the way societies grow and flourish; rather it included the builders of institutions and ideas. Today that extends further, everyone who builds a website, publishes a post, or makes a video, anyone who contributes to the superstructure of our economy is a builder, and shapes the lives and minds of others. Because of this we are all world builders. We believe everyone should be trying to build a better world, where the needs of others and the impact of our actions has an effect and should be thought of with care.
Freemasonry is fundamentally requires its members to believe in a higher power. We believe this requirement guarantees a sense of accountability for one’s actions. We do not define what the personal beliefs of its members must be, with regard to what that higher power is, or what this creating force’s methods were for the formation of the universe. Freemasonry teaches that there is some Supreme Being that is greater and more powerful than mankind.
Morality can best be defined as a person’s commitment between themselves and their God. Just as Abraham entered into a covenant with his God, we believe every man should enter into an agreement with their Creator for an accountability for their actions here on Earth.
We believe that it is fundamentally important to recognize our own mortality, but that the actions we engage in in this life will echo far beyond our lifetime.
We ask our members to make obligations, sworn to God. Without the belief in a Supreme Being to whom one is accountable, these commitments we find to be meaningless.
A man is only as good as his word. Integrity is that commitment one has with himself. Because of that, Freemasonry encourages the journey of self-discovery, and self-improvement.