A couple months ago I was reflecting on what kind of a mason I was when I first joined. Lemme tell ya, it wasn’t top tier.
Oh, I came to all the meetings. I learned the lectures and the rituals. I was a smart mason. Too smart. Too smart for my own good, because like many young men I lacked a principle quality for success: humility.
I was only a member of this ancient craft for three months before I knew I knew two things.
One: Everything that was wrong with Freemasonry today.
Two: Everything we needed to do to fix it.
I even started a Facebook group called REmasonry so we could all work together to enact my own, personal vision of the one true form and function of Freemasonry.
What a jackass, huh?
My only defense is I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by bold young upstarts who all had the same idea, and when those ideas agreed, we worked together. And when they didn’t I chuckled into my coffee, shook my head and said a silent prayer that they would someday become as wise as I, and I’m pretty sure they all did the same things.
I can’t say I’m loads better today. Obviously I think my opinions are important enough to put them in a book and a blog, but in my time in Freemasonry I am happy to say I’ve calmed down a lot. If you are one of these young, energetic upstarts, you probably think what I’m about to say makes me part of the problem and not the solution but there’s a reason things are like they are.
No, they’re not all good reasons, though many of them are. Sometimes something is done the way it’s done because, as you eventually learn, that’s the best, most effective way to do it. And sometimes they’re done that way because legitimately better ways of doing it just aren’t able to be implemented by with the resources we have. And when you get more experience under your belt, you start to learn to see the difference. And you can start learning new ways of getting the results that old “bright ideas” could not.
There is a fine line between patience and complacency, and when we start out on this masonic endeavor, any kind of resistance looks like complacency. It takes time and experience to control these deep passions to leap boldly ahead and change things. But this is also something that can’t really be explained to the satisfaction of those that need to hear it. They need to learn it through time and experience, if they learn it at all.
So I’ve determined that whenever I encounter one of these new masons who think they know how to Make Freemasonry Great Again, I’m just going to sip my coffee, smile, and say “Wow, you sure have a lot of passion for the Craft,” and count how many years it takes for them to learn that wasn’t a compliment, but a caution.
Side Note: And interesting denouement to this story. When I originally made the remark on social media, a new mason jumped all over me, raging about how old men like me are what’s ruining masonry and chasing away the energetic young brothers like him, coming in with all their new, great ideas, by telling them to sit down and shut up.
I just smiled and sipped.