The fact that a man has taken the degrees of Freemasonry does not automatically make a person a better man. The strength of Freemasonry, especially in these days when it enjoys the greatest respect and influence, lies not in the strength of its numbers, but in the extent to which its tenets are put into practice.
No man is actually a Mason, nor is he transmitting unimpaired the tenets of our craft, if he merely bears the title of a Mason, pays his dues and delegates to others the practice of Masonry. It would be tragic, indeed, if history were later to record that this generation of Masons had, as individuals, lost the ancient art we profess to practice. Freemasonry has grown and prospered in the past because the good work of individual Masons, as well as lodges, attracted wide attention, and the public in general became convinced of the fraternity’s worthiness.
While it is true modern times require us to establish committees – finance, benevolence, social, etc. – Masons will cease to practice Masonry if they delegate all such responsibilities to the officers and the various committees, especially if the same individuals serve year after year.
Let us not wait for assignments. Let each of us be alert to the needs of other Masons and be quick to perform what the lectures have taught us to perform, not waiting to be asked.
The Masonic art will never be lost even through troublesome times if individual members will occasionally take a look at their own performance and ask themselves: Have I been observing the teachings of Masonry to mankind, more especially toward brother Masons? Have I been able, even once in recent weeks, to help a brother Mason or his family by deed, word of encouragement, word of sympathy or friendliness? It is the individual performance, which counts in Masonry, not its fine building nor its wealth nor the size of its membership.
Only by the acts of individual Masons will Masonry continue to live through a succession of ages, its principles a vital force, its tenets unimpaired. How often have we heard it said that a lodge is unable to do much because of its small membership. The strength of Masonry does not lie in its large membership but in the extent to which its tenets are put into practice.
The lodge is a symbol of the world. Its shape, the oblong square is the ancient conception of the shape of the world. The Entered Apprentice is taught these dimensions, its covering, its furniture, its lights, its jewels, and he learns more of it as a symbol as he proceeds through the degrees.
Within the lodge the Initiate does as all others who have gone this way before him, and all, youngest Entered Apprentice to oldest Past Master, travel a common way to an end which is the same for all. If Freemasonry really aims to make all men brothers, to bring harmony among races and nations of the world at large, then we must endeavour to protect and practice these tenets.
If Freemasonry is to help, aid and assist the needy and troubled; if it hopes to liberate men from the tyranny of ignorance by means of the light of freedom and the sacredness of the individual., then it is up to us as individuals to set an example. Then we can say we are living Freemasonry.