What is a Mason?

What is a Mason?
By: Bro Charles H. Tupper  MPS

This question is often asked by those who are not yet members and by 
those who have been in lodge for some time.  This question is often a 
difficult one to answer.  We know that we enjoy being Masons but do not 
know how to explain this. I will try to give an overview of why we are 
masons and what masonry is.
   First we need to understand that the number one thing that people 
want to know about any organization.  This is: ìWhatís in it for me?î   
This is one of the things that is always the same in life.  No one wants 
to become involved in something unless they benefit from it.   This 
question must be answered for if we do not know what we want from it, it 
matters not what it is.

  If each of us thinks back to when we petitioned the lodge we will find 
that there are striking similarities in the reasons that we did so.  
Some of these are:  Many of our male relatives were masons and it was 
the family thing to do;  Many of the men we worked with and associated 
with were masons.  We wanted to fit in with the crowd.  People that we 
admired and respected were masons.  We wanted to emulate them and  we 
wanted to belong to the most respected fraternity in the world.

Freemasonry affords men the opportunity to be with others who have the 
same interests.  These men support one another.  This applies not only 
to the activities of the Lodge but also to the activities of daily life.  
The first degree teaches us that we should promote each others welfare 
and rejoice in each others prosperity.  When brothers meet away from the 
lodge at an impromptu gathering we see much of this type of activity.   
The friendliness and genuine feeling we have for one another is evident 
at these affairs.
Freemasonry is one of the few places that we can gather in confidence 
that we will leave with all that we arrived with.  We do not take 
advantage if one of our ladies leaves her purse unattended or one of us 
loses his wallet.  They are never bothered.  How many places can this 
occur in todays world?  Not very many.   We are selective and do not, 
knowingly, accept any man who would take advantage of others.
The teachings of Freemasonry afford the member a better chance to live a 
happy life with his chosen mate without joining the ranks of the throw 
away spouse society.  We learn how to work through our tough times and 
make our lives better and more productive.  
If disaster should befall us we can turn to our fraternity in confidence 
that help will be given.  If financial aid is needed there are avenues 
open to the membership that are not available elsewhere.  The lodge will 
help to the best of its ability.  If this is not enough there is the 
King County Masonic Service Bureau.  A mason does not have to belong to 
a lodge that is a member of the Bureau to receive aid from it.  If more 
still is needed, there is the Grand Lodge Charity Fund. 
Occasionally one of our widows will need assistance.  All she needs to 
do is call the Secretary of the Lodge and the brothers will do all that 
they are able to do for her.  This affords security for the mates of our 
departed brothers. 
These are some of the things about masons that make them different than 
members of many other fraternal organizations.  These things are good to 
know but most of these are peripheral to what and who we are.
Freemasonry is a story of life.  It carries joy, heartache, failure and 
triumph.  In books one can read its teachings, symbols and ambitions.  
We do not practice our craft in the dark  but rather in the full light 
of day.  We are required to practice the teachings and love we are 
taught by the lights of our fraternity.  No greater thing can be said of 
the fraternity than that it is an ideal way of life.
No other fraternity offers the lessons contained within our ritual.  
Every word and act in our ceremonies carries a lesson to each of us.  If 
we will just open our eyes, hearts and ears as we are taught to do by 
the second degree of Masonry.
We can study Freemasonry for years and each time we think about the 
things we see and hear we will find new meaning and inspiration.  Each 
time this happens we see more of what Freemasonry is and for what it is 
intended.  Great men have devoted many years to the cause of Freemasonry 
and when their work is finished they have realized that they have only 
begun to see the light and that they have only started to uncover the 
truths contained within our ritual.   I do not believe that any man has 
fully understood all of the lessons that it teaches.
The meaning of being a Mason rests in education and character forming.  
While it may be accepted as an innermost desire, followed by obligations 
that makes us members, yet in a larger sense, a man is never a Freemason 
until he truthfully and loyally lives up to his obligations. He cannot 
do that until he understands them and begins to learn their scope and 
There is something inherently good about being a mason.  Freemasonry has 
stood through the years with the shining light of its membership as a 
beacon to the world.  The greatness of the fraternity is not due to 
secret teachings, mysteries or deeds.  It is due to the lessons taught 
to its members by its ritual and the comfort, inspiration and 
enlightenment brought to all who will study it.
Through this study men learn more about how to live up to the 
obligations that they have taken when they became members of the 
Fraternity.   They learn to better control their passions, prejudices, 
angers and tongues.  The Freemason is different than most of the people 
around him for he has the lessons of the Fraternity within him as he 
walks through life.  He truly learns who he is and what he is on this 
earth for.
Freemasonry offers comfort to those who sorrow, hope for those who 
despair, counsel for those who err, and joy and contentment to all who 
genuinely practice it.   The philosophies of the fraternity provide a 
simple but profound solution to the problems of human relationships.  It 
is accepted that it is a way of life to the MM who is interested enough 
to appraise and value what is his, and his alone because he is a MM.
Freemasonry has a solid foundation in unchanging principles.  It is an 
excellent training ground for ethical living and moral behavior.  The 
true masonís word is his bond.  What he says, he means.  He practices 
fairness and honesty in all his dealings.
There are three kinds of honesty practiced in this world.  Cash register 
honesty,  business honesty and personal honesty.  The MM makes no 
distinctions.  He only knows one honesty.  That is the lesson taught by 
all religions.  Do unto others as you would that they do unto you.  This 
makes the mason different from most people in this world.  He is 
respected and revered by those around him.  It matters not whether he is 
a maintenance worker or the president of the company.  The actions are 
the same.
This is important to the Mason as the world around him has no clear 
sense of purpose or firm spiritual foundation.  To many people, the 
Masonís vision of life is ludicrous.  These modern times seem to be 
seeking the lowest common denominator where the only question people 
want answered is: ìWhat can we get away with?î  This society is fast 
going toward self regulation.   Self-seeking is becoming increasingly 
prominent.  Allegiance is becoming secondary to the selfish pursuits of 
the individual.  In other words, society is falling apart.
We see around us high unemployment, people who are worried about holding 
on to their jobs, shrinking buying power, continual warfare in the 
streets, commercialized sex, drugs being sold in every neighborhood, 
crimes of every kind are on the rise,  rampant consumerism that works on 
people to buy things they do not need and homeless people are in every 
major downtown area.  We are living in a throw away society where values 
count for less and less.
We see people more and more who do not think of the dignity and feelings 
of others.  They have forgotten the virtues of temperance and prudence.  
These virtues can not be legislated but must be practiced for the good 
order of society.   Good men practice them here.
Justice seems to take a back seat to rights in our society.  Without 
justice our way of life is doomed also.  We must get our society back to 
the basics that have made this the greatest Country in the history of 
the planet.
My brothers, if you listen closely you will hear the good men in our 
society calling out.  ìMasonry, where are you?î  Freemasonry can help 
good men to withstand the pressures of our run away society.  
Freemasonry can help good men to renew the values that are needed to 
rebuild our society.  Freemasonry can help good men to gain the 
knowledge to make our cities safe again.  Freemasonry can help good men 
to become better men.
Freemasonry teaches that the road to happiness is found in the journey 
towards perfection of spirit, intellect and soul.   Freemasonry teaches 
men to reach their fullest potential. The Freemason works toward these 
goals each day of his life.  To aid in his journey he studies the book 
of religion, the history of man, and the philosophy of life.  He cares 
for his family and his church.  He puts forth his best efforts for the 
payment he receives in the workplace.  He helps his neighbor and his 
community and he attends his Lodge so that he may fellowship with others 
with the same aims and goals. 
From the time the Entered Apprentice Mason stands in the northeast 
corner of the Lodge and is told that he ìnow stands as a just and 
upright Masonî he becomes a worker on the building of Freemasonry and a 
guardian of the foundation stones.  As society digs the earth from under 
the stones of civilization he stands, ever watchful, guarding the 
foundation of Freemasonry so that the fraternity will always stand tall 
for what is right and good in the world.
The Freemason is a builder.  The building he works on is never finished.  
With every stone he lays there is another to be shaped and set.  We work 
together as a fraternity to build a strong building.  The more men work 
and learn together, the better the building.  We must impress upon the 
young men of today that this building is in danger of crumbling from age 
and may collapse without the labor of their hearts and hands.  
We offer them brotherhood, understanding, help, encouragement and moral 
support.  Unless men are properly influenced and guided by principles 
there is no hope for a brighter tomorrow. Not for society, not for 
freedom, not for Democracy and not for Freemasonry
Our fraternity is a bastion of morality.  Perhaps the last one outside 
of the secular churches.  We have an advantage over them because we 
cross all religious boundaries and bring together men of every country, 
sect and opinion in peace and harmony.  We enjoy each other and the 
families of one another.  We have family get togethers to promote the 
togetherness of our fraternity.  
When we were young and going to school, most of us had a circle of 
friends with whom we did and shared everything.  As we grew older and 
the concerns of the world began to hem us in we became distant from this 
sharing.  Freemasonry affords the opportunity to regain this important 
part of life.  To have friends with whom we can share our innermost 
secrets without fear of ridicule or reprisal is something that we can 
not get in most places.  We can get it from our brothers for Freemasonry 
truly regards the whole human race as one family.   As we progress 
through life with our brothers we find that our lives are richer, better 
and more fulfilling.
When we put all of these things together we arrive at the bottom line.  
This is the simple explanation that a Mason is a good man who, by the 
teachings of the Fraternity is working to become a better man and the 
Fraternity is all the Masons working, one with the other, toward the 
same goal.