At the end of July, the members of Plano Lodge traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to confer a Masterâ€™s degree. During that event, I was earnestly reminded of the profound connection that each of us shares with our brothers, no matter what part of the world in which we might find ourselves. There is something magical about the instant connection of friendship and brotherhood one feels in meeting another Mason for the first time. That feeling of connectedness utterly transcends the barriers that often separate humanity without the door of the Lodge, the very same distinctions of culture, religion, and social status that Freemasonry seeks to overcome in uniting men through the promotion of equality and toleration.
There is something utterly indescribable that connects every Mason through our shared experiences in both becoming a Mason and practicing the teachings of the Order. We are bound to the Fraternity by a strong tie that goes much deeper than the promises we have made to each other. Our own lecture describes this â€œindissoluble chain of sincere affectionâ€, which for centuries, our brethren in Europe have called the â€œmystic tieâ€.
The question that comes to my mind is this. If this bond is so strong that it inspires an instant rapport between two strangers in every other regard, how much greater must its influence be felt between men of the same Lodge, who have known each other for many years? In particular, Freemasonry has a lot to teach us about sincerity, integrity, patience, fidelity, mercy, and justice. Masonry proposes an abiding optimism about human nature, especially where the expectations and judgment of our brothers are concerned.
In an age in which we find ourselves so continuously connected with our fellow humans, constantly communicating through electronic means in both the most meaningful and trivial ways, we are simultaneously losing our ability to discern the intentions and sincerity of those we interact with. It is commonplace now to find that some comment, E-mail, post, or tweet is interpreted in some way that was not intended, and friendships are damaged in the misunderstanding. The increase in the quantity of our communication has placed quality at risk. In this regard, Masonry teaches us to assume that our brothers are acting with sincerity and integrity. In interpreting their words and actions, we must strive to presume that they are acting with the best intentions, and only when we find them truly in error, does one of our ancient changes instruct us to â€œjudge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justiceâ€.
This is much easier said than done, my brothers, and that is why Masonry is a progressive science. We must never cease working upon ourselves. As Mahatma Gandhi is well known to have said, â€œWe must be the change we wish to see in the world.â€