Did We Make Them Better?
by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. William Aemisegger
Did we really make our new Brother better? Have we prepared them for the new knowledge and growth which our great fraternity has to offer? We say we make good men better, but did we do that in the best interest of the new Brother or for a dues card? I firmly believe our early brethren did not join for business meetings and halfhearted Masonic Education. Once we open the eyes of our Brothers, we fall short on showing them how to use and apply the knowledge of the lessons and working tools of the Craft. They are either exposed to the officer line and administrative committees, or they are bombarded by the allure of the appendant bodies. From my experience, sitting after Lodge with Brothers more senior in experience than I taught has me more than any business meeting. I learned about life, business, etiquette, and much more.
There is a significant deficit in teaching the great lessons and applications of the ceremonies through which they just passed through. How can we make good men better if we don't give them a foundation to expand their mind and thirst to be better? Sure, the appendant bodies offer an enlarged view of the Masonic Education, and that is great. I sometimes get the chance to ask Brethren more senior than me about how they manage to have time for all the events they attend. Their answers make it clear that they are not effectively using the 24-inch gauge. I usually inquire why they don't use this tool, and the response is often "I never thought about the gauge like that."
Simply put, I find they know the words but have forgotten to stop and contemplate the meaning and application. This fails to build the foundation for any further progress in becoming better. We are making the road harder to travel and setting ourselves up for failure.
Here is my simple view. Our more ancient Brethren are heralded as some of the greatest thinkers of their time. Why? It's because they studied the lessons in the degrees and applied them to their worldly pursuits. They understood the meaning of the working tools and how to apply them to daily use. They contemplated the charges and the allegory within the degrees. We would do well to educate our new and established Brothers on how to use the working tools--how to contemplate the lessons in the degrees to better themselves. If effectively done, it prepares them for the exploration of other appendant bodies, be they Masonic or otherwise.
Teach the speculative uses of our working tools to manage our lives better--help them reflect on the moral lessons within the lectures. Engage the Brothers in discussion regarding our teachings. We opened their eyes; now, let's teach them to use those "secrets." It seems we focus on getting them to the degree of Master Mason but not on making sure they are duly and truly prepared to work as a Master Mason. We are setting ourselves up for failure by not building the foundation of the Education we gave in the degrees.
Our lectures and tools are not one-time-only use. Have we failed the appendant bodies by not indeed preparing the Brother for what lay ahead? Or did we blindly give tools and knowledge and expect them to figure it out themselves?
The solution to this is far simpler than one may think with a huge impact. This impact will be felt locally at first but will spread like wildfire when we awaken the true Mason within. The Search for more light will show you the way.
For the individual Brother looking for your own education ask questions. Go back to basics get in the habit of asking why. The question why is a great place to start. Why is that working tool important? Why is that verse quoted in the degree? Brother Steve Harrison has a great article on this subject that you can find HERE. You are the master of your own education.
To the Brothers bringing a candidate from darkness to light. This is a serious responsibility. You are responsible to communicate our greatest knowledge in the best way you can. Be mindful of what and why you are doing this. You are their first impression of the Fraternity, make it a great experience. Furthermore, any Brother interacting the new Brother is responsible for mentoring and leading him in the Fraternity.
To the Lodge Officers simply be mindful of your Brothers. Engaging the Brothers in active conversation is the best way to nurture education. Engage them on the masonic education presented. Host a Q&A after the presentation or after the meeting. Really take the time to know the Brothers that are members. Take the time to make sure they understand what is going on with legislation, education opportunities, committees, or other local activities. Remember you are the Officer for the Lodge you have a responsibility for the care and stewardship of the Brothers within.
Brother William was raised in September of 2013 and is a member of both Hernando-Bushnel No. 30 in Florida and Utica-Macomb No. 64 in Davis Michigan. He works at giving back to the fraternity all that it's given him.