Freemasonry: Elite or Elitist?
By Worshipful Brother Avron Jacobson, APGM (SD)
Are we ashamed today to think that our fraternity is an elite organization? Or, perhaps, we do not believe that it is! We have high standards, we admit no one who is not moral or upright before God and is of good repute before the world. The secret is that it is okay to be elite, but we should not be elitist. Elite is to have high standards, elitist is to consider yourself better than everyone else and to let them know it.
To be an elite organization requires constant effort. It can never be satisfied with the status quo; the standards can always be lifted.
Masonic meetings are places of learning, a fostering of ideas, and the lodge is a sanctuary for nurturing and developing friendship. It is where we go to celebrate our brotherhood. In the 18th Century, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Mozart all joined a Masonic Lodge to be with gentlemen who would debate the great questions of the day.
We must understand who we are and the road we’ve travelled. The philosophy of Masonry required centuries to develop and should be understood and venerated by all members of the fraternity.
Each lodge should have high standards. We need to foster the joys of gentlemanly behaviour. Not phony gentlemanliness, but genuine fraternal good behaviour. Consequently, at times, it may be necessary to give good counsel to a brother. This can be difficult, especially when it is misunderstood as criticism.
As gentleman, we should advocate a minimum standard of dress which should reflect in our standard of working. When initiating, passing and raising a candidate, think of just how important an event that new man will consider it to be if the entire lodge membership looks first-class and the working is flawless.
Good behaviour is essential. We should not allow rude or coarse behaviour among Masons. We also say that our providence is to make good men better. If we are to polish the rough ashlar into a perfect one than we must conduct ourselves as the best men in society.
The Masonic fraternity is “out of step” with current society because we have higher standards. In other words, we should not lower ourselves to the behaviour of the common group. If we are to be elite, when the world around us is rude and common, it should be our stated purpose to improve that world by improving men.
For Freemasonry to be taken seriously, Freemasons must take themselves seriously. We should feel that our fraternity is solemn, noble, exclusive, dignified and special.I am not advocating that our lodges should be stern, joyless places of strict, dreary ritualists. Not at all! A lodge should be, first and foremost, a place of brotherhood, of friendship, and close personal bonds. It is not a degree mill to be opened, closed and fled.
The Working degrees of Masonry should be formal, sincere, instructive and enlightening. The Board Of Management meetings should be effective, brief and enjoyable, and the Festive board should be formal where Philosophy and Fellowship should be the centrepiece.