What Makes Us Different?
by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Ken Baril
We owe our being to those who came before us. We are here because they were here, and of the way, their lives unfolded. Imagine, if you will, the countless chance happenings, the many coincidences and accidents, all of which had to come about in the precise way they did, in order to result in our being here, and, being what we are! Each of us attends our Lodge meetings because we want to. We attend because we firmly believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, that due to our efforts, we are making this world a better place. But what makes us as Masons, different from members of other fraternal organizations? We are members of what the Masonic community refers to as, “the greatest fraternity in the world.”
This is quite a powerful statement! I believe we are different as Masons because the instinct to become a Mason was born in us. I don’t believe the subtle hints that may have been directed to us at one time or another by a Mason to a non-Mason has anything to do with our becoming a member. Sooner, or later, we would have joined because inwardly, the calling was already there, and would eventually emerge when the time was right. However strange this reasoning may seem, let’s investigate further. Each man who becomes a member of our grand fraternity is someone very special; someone who has a certain quality of character distinguishing him from others. These qualities do not imply we are better than others but the burning desire within us to help our fellowman burns at a much higher degree of intensity than most.
It is not a superficial desire, as it is a deep one. No man kneels at our Altar of Obligation and arises the same man. The oaths we have taken at the Altar of Obligation are deeply imbedded in our minds and we practice the tenets of our order towards all humankind, well after the Master has closed his lodge, while we are constantly reminded of the, “Point within a Circle.” Each one of us, as Masons, practice our tenets, as the younger generations refer to as, “twenty-four seven.” We are men of strong convictions and we are not, swayed easily. We are extremely patriotic and have within our ranks many true American heroes. We consider all men as our equal and look down upon no one but I have learned that a man has the right to look down on somebody, only when he is helping him up.
We extend our hand to the fallen and the down trodden as a token of our brotherly love, and, under no circumstance does any sound of distress reach our ears in vain, or any outstretched hand seeks our aid without response. Each of us has a very strong connection to Deity and our cable-tow is that connection.
I firmly believe that here, within the Temple of Masonry, men differing in language, in modes of thought, in dress and in habits of life, are able to meet around a common altar, share a common hope, and seek a common ideal. These mental images do not seem to appear in other fraternal organizations. We have been taught in our beloved order, the relative importance of self-analysis to the duties of life.
Each day or night, when we review our actions, behavior and thoughts, and attempt to see how they coincide with our own philosophy, and measure up to the standards outlined by the craft, we improve ourselves as better men and better Masons. I doubt whether other fraternal organizations leave this impression upon their members. Our ancient brotherhood is founded upon the principles of love, hope, and charity, principles that through many centuries have led to the betterment of humanity. In Masonry, we are taught to search not for the transient pleasure, but for the philosophy and the guidance that will aid us in gaining the most from the short time we are accorded here, by contributing the most to our fellow man.
Our teachings do not pass quickly into and out of existence. Our teachings do not vanish, end, nor die. The advantage we have as members of this fine organization is that it has been in existence for a long, long, time. Unfortunately, other fraternal organizations do not have the same time - frame of experience as we do. After all, we have centuries of experience and many “Masonic celebrities” have contributed so much to our being. So here, we have, “the greatest fraternity in the world.” And why is it so great?
Because you are a member and our members are the GREATEST men in the world!
WB Ken Baril was born in New Haven, CT. and moved to the Cincinnati area in 1999. He is a three time Master of his lodge, Temple Lodge No. 16. AF & AM, 1982-1983-1995, located in Cheshire, CT. While living in Connecticut and prior to his moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, Ken has been the featured speaker at many public schools and Veterans organizations. Ken is a published author who has written a book focusing on members of the Masonic Fraternity who have been recipients of our nation’s highest award for bravery, the prestigious Medal of Honor called "The Medal of Honor - The Letter G in Valor". Ken has dedicated his time and effort to researching and developing various programs including, “The Medal of Honor Program,” “The Immortal Four Chaplains,” as well as many others. His programs are dedicated to the preservation of an important portion of American history, contributions, and sacrifices, in the defense of the United States, and to the memory of all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of that objective. He also writes articles for various Masonic publications. He served his country during the Korean War in the United States Air Force. He currently resides in Hudson, FL. with his wife, Marion.