by Midnight Freemasons Founder
(originally published 6/13/13)
Todd E. Creason
"To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
~Newton's Third Law of Motion
I can't help but think that Newton's Third Law of Motion doesn't just apply to motion. In fact, it applies to a lot of things. It can apply to life as well, and to a way of living. Just think how many sayings are similar to Newton's Law that apply to a lot of different things. How many times have we heard the saying "what goes around comes around." Generally, when somebody uses that expression, it means that when you do something rotten to somebody, eventually, it comes back on you. But the same can be said of good deeds as well. Another version says it better--you reap what you sow. You do good things, you get good things, and when you do bad things, you better get ready for bad things to come back to you. But all these sayings are suggesting the same thing. That when you live your life with the intent of doing good things, you're rewarded with good things.
That idea has been around for a long, long time. It's ancient wisdom, and it's been around for so long, because there is great truth in the idea that great things come to those that live to do great things. There's a version of that idea in every culture and every major religion. It could be called a lot of things. It could be called goodwill towards man. It could be called "creating good Karma." It could be called gratitude. It could be called living "The Golden Rule." Masons call it living like a true and upright Mason.
After I was raised a Master Mason, minutes after the lodge was closed, a young man probably fifteen years my junior came over and sat down next to me. I knew who he was--he had been my safe conductor through all three of my degrees. He never spoke to me after my first two degrees, so I was a little surprised when he came over and sat down next to me as I sat on the sidelines in the lodge room trying to absorb all that had just happened. I knew something had just happened. Something had just clicked in me. But I certainly didn't know then that my life had just changed in a very significant way. He sat down and gave me a piece of advice that I've never forgotten. It was a version of the same idea I'm talking about here. He told me that the thing about Freemasonry is, you get out of it what you put into it.
It took a little time for me to figure out that "putting into it" was more than sitting in a chair, and memorizing a few lines of ritual. The more time I spent with Masons, the more I seemed to change for the better. It can be a powerful influence being surrounded by men of good character. It makes you want to work on your own character. It makes you want to be a better man.
Of all the things I've done and accomplished since I've been a Mason, the one thing I think I've benefited from the most from these true and upright Masons, is the improvements to my own character--and that is the intent. To make good men better. I always credit the Fraternity for renewing my faith in mankind, and helping me erase that cynical view of the world I'd developed. I've done a lot of work chipping pieces off that ashlar. It's a little smoother now than when I joined, and I'm still working on it. And any Mason will tell you, that one of the most difficult undertakings you'll ever experience is being able to looking at yourself in the mirror honestly, and accepting the fact that you need a lot of work. Change is very hard.
It doesn't take long for a Master Mason to begin to realize the best way to improve yourself is through the things you do for others. Being honest in your dealings with mankind. Being dependable and hardworking. Being charitable. Being willing to give a helping hand where you can. Giving back to others with no expectation of reward. And the more you work on doing these things, the greater that desire becomes to do more. It's a fact, you just can't receive without giving.
Freemasons don't hold a patent on these ideas. As I said, it's ancient wisdom. But over centuries, the Freemasons have certainly learned an excellent way to teach it. By example.
Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the Master of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).
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