That's the same thing we're talking about here. When many of us joined this Fraternity, we did so with a desire to improve ourselves. However, improvement doesn't come from filling our heads with arcane facts and information. The improvement comes from actually applying the things we're learning. Learning how to improve our character. Learning how to improve the way we interact with others. Learning to improve our moral character and living a virtuous life. Learning how to improve the world around us. Learning how to help those in need.
But in order to be successful at this, we have to take a very honest inventory, and make a very detailed inspection of ourselves and our character. Just like the operative masons did when they worked in stone, we have to find those imperfections, and the places that could use a little work, and apply those tools as necessary. That's not an easy thing for some of us to do. It's much easier to see the faults in others than to see the flaws in ourselves. Honest self-reflection is something that takes great courage and great wisdom to be able to accomplish. In order to improve ourselves we have to take a very long and honest look at the man in the mirror.
Ben Franklin had a system for doing this, and it became a habit he continued throughout his entire lifetime. He identified 13 virtues he wanted to constantly improve himself on. He kept track in a small book he carried with him how he did on each of those 13 virtues every day. And each week, he selected one of those virtues to work on in particular. As remarkable a man as he is remembered as being, and as accomplished as he was in so many things, he never stopped working at trying to improve himself each and every day.
Freemasonry isn't a social club, although there is and always has been a social aspect to it. If you joined for a ring and a bumper sticker, you're probably not going to understand what I'm talking about. First and foremost, a Masonic Lodge is supposed to be a place of enlightenment. It's supposed to be a place of learning--learning to improve ourselves, learning to better our character, learning to become better community leaders, better husbands, better fathers. It's a place where men go and learn both from the wealth of knowledge Masons have accumulated over hundreds of years, but also from each other. In too many places, this has been forgotten. However, in many others, we're beginning to remember this again and the true purpose of Masonry, the self-improvement aspect of the Craft, is beginning to take root again.
I encourage you to dive into all that Masonry has to offer. Some of that knowledge you'll find in your Lodge. Some of it in the library. Some of it in the many wonderful research organizations out there for you to join and from the wealth of knowledge put out in the numerous publications this Fraternity has available. There is so much there, you'll never be able to learn everything there is to know about Freemasonry in a lifetime. But the study and application of even the most basic rudiments of our Craft will improve your life in immeasurable ways.
You'll see those benefits once you begin, and it will drive you to continue to learn all you can.
Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where is currently serves as Secretary. He is the Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org