Freemasonry as a social commitment. How the values of the Craft can change a Mason’s life and how a Mason can change the societyM. W. Bro. Ranko Vujacic
Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Serbia, A. F. & A. M.
Most Worshipful Grand Masters, Distinguished Brethren, Dear Friends, it is my great pleasure to be here with you and to address you at this important meeting today. I thank very much for the invitation. It is good to be in Bucharest again. I am especially pleased to see in the Chair my dear Brother and Friend, MW Bro Rüdiger Templin of the United Grand Lodges of Germany. I am sure he will lead us to a productive and inspiring session.
Freemasonry professes the importance of the individual and of individual responsibility in its objective of taking a good man and making him better. the focus is always on the individual.
From the moment an apprentice is entered into a Lodge, it is impressed upon him that his duty is not to himself, but to his family and his fellow man, his community and his country. Inherent in living by the precepts of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth is the duty to be tolerant in respecting the right of others to hold beliefs that are different to his. THerefore a Freemason must be tolerant.
Members of our Brotherhood are concerned with developing themselves morally and spiritually in order to become better people. Freemasonry is a cooperative effort to improve the world by taking the responsibility for yourself and the world around you, and working with like-minded people to make things better. We are all member of a unique worldwide Organization that we should be very proud of. Where else in the world, if not in our Lodges, people from all races, religions, socioeconomic levels of society work together in perfect harmony and equality.
The effect of Freemasonry upon personal character can be judged by the attributes of members of the Craft in other areas, i.e. as citizens, and as contributors to the well-being of a locality, state or nation. However, some of us complain that there is nothing in Masonry, forgetting that they have put nothing into it.
We masons are not a lobby group and do not have or express political opinion, neither do we talk about religion. We only deal with men, and this is our aim: we work in order to offer our members the ethical tools to become better persons. Let me underline the fact that our aim remains human development.
Our responsibility, as mention earlier, of making good men better, guides our steps from a good world to a better world. We thus build together the Temple of Peace and the Welfare of Mankind. We strive to establish the united humanity living in peace. We should be proud to be masons.
2. CHARGE AFTER INITIATION
At this point I think it would be useful to recall a part of the Emulation Ritual, namely just two paragraphs of the "Charge after Initiation" which is delivered by a Worshipful Master to a new Brother, I quote:
„...as an individual, let me recommend the practice of every domestic as well as public virtue: let Prudence direct you, Temperance chasten you, Fortitude support you and Justice be the guide of all your actions. Be especially careful to maintain in their fullest splendour those truly Masonic ornaments, which have already been amply illustrated - Benevolence and Charity.“
"And as a last general recommendation, let me exhort you to dedicate yourself to such pursuits as may at once enable you to be respected in life, useful to mankind, and an ornament to the society of which you have this day become a member; to study more especially such of the liberal Arts and Sciences as may lie whiten the compass of your attainment, and without neglecting the ordinary duties of your station, to endeavour to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge."
Charity is one of the values of Freemasonry but not the most important one. The improvement of ourselves to be better humans is fundamental. Doing so and being an integral part of our society we bring the society to a higher level.
A committed Freemason must do whatever he can to improve society, and that is why members of the Craft have helped found schools and colleges, hospitals and libraries. Freemasons all over the world were and are donating to charities large and small.
4. BEHAVIOUR OF A FREEMASON
We are the ones who can make a change, who can influence society and point to the right direction so that it develops in a positive way. It goes without saying that to live up to the ideals of the Craft, Freemasons must live a life of integrity. Masonic wisdom encourages us to judge our performance in every aspect of our lives against certain standards.
Freemasonry demands that its members respect and honour both the spirit and the letter of the law of the country in which they live and also to encourage all masons to fulfil their personal responsibilities, both private and public. We ought to be examples of good order and regularity, because it is only by our own conduct that we can reasonably expect compliance with it from others.
We should always act in conformity with the principles of the Craft. The world would be a better place if more people accepted them and acted accordingly.
Using membership to promote own or anyone else's interests - financial, professional or personal - is strictly forbidden and, should it ever take place, we must fight it with all means. If necessary, Brethren should be regularly reminded of this.
5. LEADING BY EXAMPLE
We should be aware that quality of our membership is far more important than quantity. By setting high standards for our membership we elevate the quality of the Organization.
We are reminded in a Lodge to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. The importance of personal development cannot be overemphasized. This will contribute to our leadership capacities. Leadership development can only be achieved through permanent education.
The leadership of Freemasonry is responsible to present a positive image of our Fraternity in a country. This will have as a result an improvement of ethical and moral values in the society.
Thus, Freemasonry being a way of life, a quality of life to be lived every day, teaches us to go out in the world and effectively practice principles and ideas that we have acquired in the Lodge.
Let's think back a little bit by having a look in our history: many of our national heroes and leaders were Freemasons and have contributed to a very positive image of Freemasonry. We cannot hide behind them, but have to prove our own capabilities. We have therefore in front of us, if I can say so, certain standards that are not easy to fulfill.
Our duty is to present such an image in our society which would earn us respect of people. Our responsibility is high. This should be always kept in mind.
As someone wrote once, that true Masonic leaders do not relay the message - they are the message.
6. ETHICS AS A POWERHOUSE OFMASONRY
Ethical values of Freemasonry were, are and will always be applicable in any society.
In our today's modern world, action is predominantly governed by strong national interests and goals. Common values appear to be of second priority and of less importance. This dangerous approach cannot have positive effects and is threatening human survival. It is therefore necessary to have global civil ethics as a guiding principle for action. Ethics should precede politics and the law. Political leaders should turn to Ethics as a source of information and inspiration. A better global order can only be achieved with global ethics.
In this connection I would like to point out the importance of education, at all levels, if we are to achieve this global goal. Education, based on our masonic values, is the most powerful weapon that can change the world. Global ethical values can only be inculcated in the minds of young generations through proper education. Demographics tell us that more than half of today's world population is under the age of 25. By the year 2050 there will be 9 billion human beings on our planet. So there is a lot to be done in the field of education.
This calls for enhanced ethical principles and values worldwide. Respect for fundamental human rights, social justice, dignity and worth of humans and equal rights of men and women must be observed. Tolerance, understanding and respect for all people is a must. Therefore, education curricula, from the primary school to university, should include and promote common global values.
On the other hand, the mass communication has become one of the most powerful mediums in influencing the minds and behaviors of human beings. Only some of them are promoting culture of non-violence and respect for life, culture of solidarity and tolerance and culture of equal rights of all people thus elevating human spirit. Therefore, due attention should be paid to the role of electronic mass media as influential promoter and disseminator of ethical norms.
7. FREEMASONRY AND SOCIETY
We Freemasons have a commitment to our society, that is a commitment to our conscience. Our every word and deed must be a reflection of our conscience.
Let us remember one thing: A Masons's duty as a member of society is explicitly set above any obligation to any other Freemason. In order to fulfill our expected role in society we must be assured of the high quality of our institution.
Our task is to positively influence ourselves and our members within the framework of the principles of our Craft. The result thereof should then be our individual influence on our parts of society. We need to act as good Masons not only at the time when we attend our meetings but 24 hours a day and that every day of our life. How can we otherwise be good example to the society if we act in a bad way. What we Masons must do, we must do as individuals. It is the individuals who should play a role in society.
The main problem that we Masons have today, in my opinion, is to find a correct way of communication with the society around us. Freemasonry needs to be known and well accepted by the rest of the society. Our often negative image of what we are and what we do has to be adequately addressed. We need to fight that misconception and misinformation.
Freemasonry has to build a bridge towards community, to be more transparent regarding our "raison d'être". People should be made aware that we mean well and do good to society and that we assist local communities. Freemasons must always strive to become better practitioners of their art.
We are the ones who can make a change. We must find the time and patience to do it. Freemasonry can be a strong force of good in society's development context. When every mason carries over into his part of society the great precepts of Freemasonry, a positive impact will be made on the mankind. We Masons should be that great and effective "League of Nations", a potent factor for international peace and stability.
H.R.H. The Duke of Sussex, G.M. 1813 - 1843 once said "… And if I have been of use to Society at large, it must be attributed, in a great degree, to the impetus derived from Masonry."
And finally, let me at this point tell you a useful quotation:
"I shall pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now; let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again".
Brethren, may we have health and strength to perform our duties with satisfaction to ourselves and advantage to our society.
Thank you for your kind attention, Brethren!