I was surfing the Internet a bit on my favorite Masonic haunts and came across a discussion that shocked me a bit. The question posed had do with whether or not it was okay to violate your Masonic obligation for the “good of Freemasonry.”
A man by the name of Oliver Cromwell said once, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.” In other words, don’t believe so strongly in your own infallibility as to become righteous in your indignation.
There is a certain danger in believing our own rhetoric. For the Freemason, it is essentially necessary to love the Craft, hold it dear and want to develop it as it helps to develop us. I was once told by a realtor that they are always excited to hear a couple start talking about all the things they would change about a house they are walking through, because it means on a subconscious level, they have already made it their own. So it would stand to reason that we would want to give to Freemasonry our builders mark upon its stone. But, at what price?
Masonry is a phenomenally wonderful system. We may gripe and complain about some of the things that can drive us a little nutty, but Masonry has always found and provided a system by which it can progress, change and grow. This does not mean there will not be obstacles. There are always obstacles to those things worth achieving. The ignorant will be ignorant, the cruel will be cruel and the envious will be envious and the vindictive will remain as such. Nonetheless, there is the vote.
We can legislate change, motivate our Brethren, and renew broken spirits to change a tide. We can elect qualified Grand Lodge officers, we can create programs so popular and so fulfilling that even our enemies are uncomfortable standing against them. Every Mason can tell a story about a bad Grand Lodge officer, but few seem to tell stories about how they spent the time and effort to draft a change to their Masonic code or constitutions, visited lodges to speak with Brothers, explain their plan and garner support--and find victory on the day of the vote.
Men will call for Masonic funerals to bring change, but don’t realize they age, entrench and embitter all the while.
There have been a number of offshoot groups to break away from the system to make a stand and they wither to a footnote. Amazing that groups of men made up of people who could not get along with a still bigger group never manages to stay organize.
I have seen men working to bring education and philosophy to their lodges accused of everything from witchcraft and forming new religions to the intentional destruction of the Craft. Yet, I have seen these men persevere and not pervert their integrity by lowering to the level of the accuser.
To shape the stone that is Masonry is our duty and our calling as Masters of the Craft; we shape it as it shapes us.
The way to fix Masonry has never been, nor will it ever be to act un-Masonic. We can not improve Masonry by violating the very foundations of our initiation and shared experience. When we convince ourselves that the ends justify the means we have convinced ourselves that Masonic philosophy can not actually improve the very institution that houses it.
Never convince that your obligation is negotiable or expendable. When we leave this life for that Celestial Lodge we can take little with us, I would like to believe that of the few things we might be able to take, our integrity should be one of them.