Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organizations. Its beginnings lie in the traditions and ceremonies of the medieval stonemasons who built the world’s greatest cathedrals and castles. Some of the rituals of these operative masons and modes of secret recognition are conducted and used by today’s Freemasons. The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717; by 1731, Masonry had spread to the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, John Hancock and other founding fathers were among the first Masons in the United States. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dates back to 1733. It was the first in the New World, and the third oldest following the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland.
Freemasonry is a fraternity of men of good principle and character, resulting in strong bonds of friendship between men of the same nature who might otherwise have remained strangers. It regards all men as equals and recognizes no distinctions of rank or class.
The Craft, as it is also known, conducts its formal ceremonies in the Lodge rooms with high dignity. The ceremonies are considered by Masons as having been the most moving experience of their lives. Employing the tools of the stone Mason as symbols of basic moral truths, Masonic ceremonies dramatize a philosophy of life based on morality.
Freemasons follow three great principles:
Brotherly Love – Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
Relief – 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.
Truth – Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
Let’s see what we can do to make a difference. Here are some thoughts and tools:
- Pay Attention and Listen. Listen intently when others are speaking. Inhibit the “inner voice” from interrupting with comments such as “The problem is…….”, or “We’ve always done it this way”.
- Be Inclusive. Civility knows no ethnicity, no level of leadership, no forum, no religion, no generation, and no bounds. Being inclusive includes everyone. It is about leading and serving for the betterment of mankind.
- No Gossiping. Gossiping is one of the most hurtful behaviors and accomplishes nothing.
- Be Respectful. Respect has nothing to do with liking or disliking someone. Respect means you can disagree without being disagreeable. Civility is “Respectful Behavior”, Respect is “Honorable Behavior.”
- Build Relationships. Leadership is about building relationships. Therefore, being civil is especially helpful in this process.
- Use Constructive Language. Be mindful of the words you use, when you use them, and also of the words you speak through your non-verbal communications.
- Take Responsibility. Don’t shift responsibility or place blame on other people. Hold yourself accountable, accept your own faults, speak positively, and respect everyone. You be the example.
- Follow the rules and be ethical in all you do.
Too often in today’s society we see road rage, angry meetings, back-talking, speaking over someone and general unpleasantness in life.
You be the example, so that others will say, “I want to be like him.”
Adapted from the Civility Project of the Grand Lodge of NY