The values of Freemasonry are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole – both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
The above is taken from The United Grand Lodge of England web page. Although I think it is an accurate description of our charitable intentions, there is however something I would change about it. I would argue that Freemasons are not “taught to practice charity and to care”. I prefer the word encouraged. After all, can one really be taught to care? Perhaps its because I don’t like the idea of it, that a Freemason should need to be taught such a thing. In my eyes to us it should be innate. It’s what makes us who we are. Yes of course we inspire it amongst ourselves and collectively we push each other to do good but again I see that as being encouragement. We aren’t teaching something that wasn’t there in the first place because I would argue that somebody who didn’t have a charitable heart to start with isn’t really a great candidate for Freemasonry. My humble opinion of course.
A few nights ago whilst having dinner with friends, one of the guests, asked me my plans for the following day. I told her that I had a meeting to go to without telling her that it was Masonic. She persisted in her questioning and I saw no reason to not to tell her that I was a Freemason and that it was indeed a Masonic outing. On hearing that I was a Freemason her eyes narrowed and I could feel the cynicism sweep over her. Her questioning turned into interrogation, her curiosity to accusation. Out came the usual…
“What do you get up to”.
“Why is it so secret”.
I merely answered that it was a charitable society where you can meet new people, make friends and discuss moral and spiritual values along with other principles – to which her reply was …
“But whats in it for you?”
Such a shame, that charity, meeting new people and making new friends is not something to be enjoyed by itself. I know what she meant. It was evident that she subscribes to the idea that we are all greasing one another’s palms and trying to help each other to ‘get on’. She was right in one respect. We do help each other. The only difference is she believes we exclusively help other Freemasons. Nothing could be further from the truth. I imagine that we all know someone who has benefited from the charitable donations that are made by Freemasons and Freemasonry in general. The recent floods for example, money was given by The Grand Charity to help with the efforts. Funding Hospice services, Air Ambulance charities, worldwide disaster relief and that’s not to mention the long list of grants for medical research. Whilst I mention it, why not check out the shiny big machine that we raised £2.5 million for, which will hopefully help people to ‘get on’ with their lives should it be successful in treating their cancer…
With regards to my interrogator, I’m not sure I swayed her. I find it hard to see why. She knows me to be of good character (I hope) and she has never upon shaking my hand found there to be any grease upon it. Sadly some people will always view our organisation with cynicism. I suppose in some measure they are right, we are all acting in self-interest – just one’s self-interest in charity.
Written By: King of Diamonds