Brotherly Love Off To A Rough Start In 2019

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

As Freemasons, we’ve made the decision that we want to live our lives a different way, by a higher set of standards than other men. We consider ourselves a fraternity of freethinkers—a society of thoughtful men who ponder the great questions in life. We believe in many things including equality, brotherly love, relief, truth, charity, toleration, etc. And we talk about these concepts and tenants at great length within our Fraternity.

Yesterday, on a Grand Lodge Facebook page, a Brother expressed an opinion. It wasn’t very eloquently expressed, but he simply pointed out he didn’t like being called "bro." The traditional way Masons address each other is “Brother” not “Bro.” It was a pet peeve. It wasn’t something I’d probably share on that venue, but I didn’t think much about it because I understood exactly where he was coming from. We are a fraternity steeped in tradition, and those titles we use in addressing each other are a form of showing respect for each other. And I share with him an opinion that too many Masons don’t show proper respect for our traditions and ritual. Like Masons that show up for a Masonic funeral in jeans, or don't bother to turn off their phones prior to a Masonic meeting (and then answer a call during the meeting).  So I got what he was complaining about--a lack of decorum, respect, and reverence for the Fraternity and what it represents.  And in truth, I don’t like being called “bro” either and I’m not exactly some stodgy old curmudgeon—as far as I’m concerned it’s the same as being called “dude.” What surprised me was a number of comments on that benign post—so I decided to read them.

It was disappointing. Instead of letting this Mason share his opinion, and give a moments thought to where he might be coming from, what the vast majority of more than fifty Masons did was ridicule him. They made fun of him and his petty little pet peeve. It was the equivalent of a 21st century stoning. Several of those Masons that participated in humiliating that Mason I know quite well. It was disappointing to see, and something I see far too often amongst Freemasons in these groups. This is something I expect to see on a political page, not on venues hosted by enlightened freethinkers.

I'm sure everyone that participated in that exchange thought they were absolutely hilarious, making jokes at his expense.  But how do you think that made that Mason feel? 

It’s easy to talk the talk, but not so easy to walk the walk. Being a Freemason means more than giving lip service to a bunch of old outdated ideas, concepts, tenets, and morals. It means we should be applying them to our lives on a daily basis because those ideas are the gateways to a far superior way of life, and a much more civilized manner of interacting with our fellow mankind. We even talk about the interactions we have with each other in our rituals. They’re not just words, they’re meant to be instructive.

How should Masons meet? How should Masons act? How should Masons part?

One of the insults that were hurled towards the Mason who shared his opinion on that post was “and we wonder why Freemasonry is dying.”

Let me tell you something, Brother. It’s not him. If Freemasonry is dying (which is a belief I don’t share), it’s because too many Freemasons don’t practice what they preach.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° 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 a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary. He is the Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR). He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 where he currently serves as EHP. He represents the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer. He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316. You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

29 comments:

  1. If we would only live by the paths we have sworn there would be a line at the Preparing Room door.

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  2. Well said.

    The Antient Charges address this perfectly.

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  3. I agree with you wholeheartedly Brother!It's not what we are but who we are.

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  4. Brother Todd E., I'm a 65 year old African American.. so, the phrase 'Bro' is quite familiar to me. I'm also a Prince Hall Past Master, having served my Lodge for 26 years and counting. One must decide whether the informality of the use of 'Bro' distracts or discounts from its intended meaning of 'Brother'. Insistence on protocol can be an affront to what is truly in one's heart. To me, 'Bro' is just a short form of 'Brother'. The terms are synonymous.. when not mired in the confusions of semantics and protocols. And I will not deny the distinction of being my BROTHER to one who addresses me as 'Bro'. It's petty and counterproductive. The precepts of Freemasonry teach us that our way of thinking should be above that. With respect, PM Leroy Jackson Burgess/MWPHGL of New York.

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  5. Another reason to protect the west gate with deeper questions as to why a man wants to join THIS fraternity. We need yo hear their heartbeat.
    Again,...How should Masons meet? How should Masons act? How should Masons part?

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  6. Your last paragraph is the gospel truth.

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  7. Excellent read.

    Mike Brewer
    Falkville #396
    North Border #391
    GL of Alabama

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  8. Welcome to civility in the 21st Century. People are talking to a keyboard and not another person so the interaction is completely impersonal.

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  9. Thank you for this. It is a great call out to a rising tide. The tide of criticism, and a lack of compassion or regard for brother Masons, and society in general. I am sure we have all fallen prey to the internet warriors who try to cut with criticism and dark wit. I truly believe Masons are above this, and should conduct ourselves in with virtue ever remembering the square of virtue on interactions with all mankind.

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  10. There were some brethren summoned to meet with the Grand Master last year. Several were expelled. All for an argument on social media and some very un-masonic comments made. Masons should remember they are Masons when posting on social media.

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  11. Both sides are in the wrong. To vent your pet peeve (not exactly a sign of Masonic maturity in itself, being offended by common colloquialisms) and others ridiculing his lack of ability to deal with his own personal issue, placing responsibility on others, is also a decision to not take the high road. No winners here. I hate most urban slang as much as the next guy but I love my fellow Masons more. Neither will ever be an issue for me. I'l take a 'bro' from a 'Bro' any day!

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  12. The bigger man never lets words hurt him. If it isn't Bro, it will be something else. This statement isn't directed at the Brother who made the original post or at you the commentator - it is directed at all of us! I agree with the sentament here as to how one might feel and how we should act as Brother Masons; however, my point is - if this wasn't offending us something else would. I've tried to learn to step over the wallowing in of what's wrong and tried to focus on what's right. In other words, I've found no value in and efficient use of my remaining grains of sand by participating in any of those types of piques and quarrels. Happy New Year to all and may we apply the golden rule in 2019.

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  13. Some prefer Bro; others prefer Brother; still others prefer My Brother... I use all 3... Men don't get hurt feelings by mere words, boys do. That being said, it would have perhaps been better to gently educate the Brother, rather than pick on him. This Fraternity has been slowly circling the drain since I took my degrees almost 50 years ago. Sad stuff. But life is too short to waste it on such nonsense. Happy New Year my Brothers.

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  14. Excellent! I've avoided a lot of FB pages for this reason. I've seen brothers acting ugly to each other over petty stuff. We are charged to treat ALL mankind, and more so a Brother, on the square.

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  15. It is interesting to see that Grand Lodge of Scotland regalia has been used to illustrate this post although I an not sure what relevance it has with the point being discussed!

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    1. None. It was just a really nice example of regalia.

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  16. I typically don't comment on these kinds of things,primarily because when I joined 43 years ago I was the young guy at 19 and the older Brothers didn't necessarily appreciate the way my generation looked,talked,etc. Now I'm a older member and I hear my contemporaries saying similar things. I along with everyone has certain pet peeves in life, some of which were for better or worse ingrained in me by the previous generation. My thought is if you have a issue, with a specific thing or comment take the Brother aside and talk to him.We are all Brothers and it is on us to to discuss these not online but Brother to Brother. You may find out you were wrong or that there is room for a different way.
    Tom Kurtz,33

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  18. My dues correspondence this past year had the salutation Bro. and Wor. Bro. respectively. I received an email from a brother that stated he was not a fan of the usage. I was very grateful for the comment and made sure to change the greeting appropriately. That being said, it is a proper usage of the salutation Brother to abbreviate it as Bro. just as Mister is abbreviated Mr. and Doctor is abbreviated Dr. There was no slight meant in the usage, just the usage of proper grammar.

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  19. Maybe this is a good example of why masonry should not be on the internet. I was one of the brothers who responded to his peeve. While i never insulted him or was rude, i expressed my opinion to his statement. If he was offended by it, well that was not my intention, but it is also to bad. I am entitled to my opinion the same as him. I disagree with his comment as being thin skinned and missing the point of us all being brothers. If this was taken as insulting well then, what is there to say but some are insulted the moment you disagree with them. Some may find this as insulting too and to that I'm truely sorry. That is not the intention but if you throw out there that you are offended by something that is in most instances intended to be friendly, then maybe it is you and not the others that need to work on your masonic attitude. Some where coarse in their responses and that was wrong too. This is why I feel this stuff should be kept to personal discussions, not put out as a txt where inflection can be misconstrued. We are all supposed to be on the level with our dealing, not implying some brothers are lesser or thugs because they refered to you as bro.

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  20. The modern world has taught us to become Social Media Bullies. Masons should be above this. Practice the pause before you comment on anything. Consider how your every word reflects on you as a Mason, and a Man.

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  21. Brother Creason may I offer up my two cents in support of your post. I am 54 and by no means do I consider myself old but I do have issue with being called "Bro" and not "Brother." Perhaps it is considered too old fashion or out of touch to offer up titles of respect like "Sir" or "Maam," "Mr., Ms, or Mrs" but I feel it is too familial to disregard those titles of respect for something less casual. To start off with a less formal title of respect is to presume you already have a personal relationship with the one so addressed. Perhaps it was old fashioned of my parents or grandparents to teach me to use those titles of respect with my "elders" or those adults older than I or with those I met for the first time. Perhaps it is wrong that I use it unless told otherwise. But by using the title of respect, by allowing the one I am speaking with to have the option to correct me in how they prefer, I am showing that person respect. Bypassing and going straight to a less formal and more personal and familial title, I take that option away from that person and show them no respect. Would you go up to a head of state and say hey "Bro" or would you address them by there title? Would it matter if that person was a member of the craft or not?

    I get that the younger generations tend to be less formal but that should not mean they are allowed to force that on those who feel different. I am your fraternal brother, I am not your BRO! Both sides are not wrong, in this case. One side is asking for respect and one side is failing to give that respect. And seriously, as my 27 year old son told his college professor, "since when has manners & civility become old fashion and sexist?" Maybe he gets it because he is in the military, maybe he gets it because his mother and I demonstrate it every day.

    I would also point out that while we are a fraternity that "strives to make good men better," we can only do that when our membership actually begins to practice what they learn from our ritual both within and without the lodge room. When we hold ourselves bound by all of our masonic oaths and carry that charge with us in our everyday lives, then and only then can we honestly say that we "make good men better." If we do not practice and uphold, then the younger generation will see right through it all and walk away from the hypocrisy.

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  22. I find it very telling that in every share and reposting of this article that I've seen, the readers are still tending to focus on whether or not the propriety of calling someone brother or bro is appropriate instead of focusing on the singular point that the behavior in response to a brother's comment was rude, intolerant and shallow.... SMH.

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    1. I noted it as well. But I think most of the Masons that read this piece understood the point, as you have. Part of me wishes I’d left the topic out of the piece as it has distracted so many from the meaning. But part of me is glad I included it because it absolutely makes my point when Mason who understood the piece see others arguing a trivial point.

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  23. Brother Creason,

    I am a fellow Master Mason who received my 3rd degree last month and agree that bro instead of Brother just sounds wrong. Growing up in southern California I use bro and dude often but feel Brother is appropriate when addressing my fellow Lodge members. Lastly, I think anyone answering their phone or texting during a meeting is missing the point. When I am in the Lodge I look forward to spending time with my brothers and welcome the time away from all the 24/7 stay connected world that the cell phone has turned our lives into. I like the take and appreciate the blog and our Brotherhood of men.

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  24. Perhaps the biggest problem facing the Craft is the number of members who really do not understand what they are involved in. There is a small, but growing minority which views the Craft as a philosophical society and takes the symbolism to heart. There are many others who know the symbolism, but do not practice it. There are some who neither know nor care to know. Very sad really. I saw that online blowout, and I was ashamed of the comments excoriating a Brother for standing up for the solemnity of the Craft. I can only assume that the people running the Brother down did so because they did not see that he was trying to educate his brethren and hopefully reform behavior that is less than solemn and dignified. Some of the “expert” Brethren that I have met think that it is more important to be right than thoughtful. You know the type... chest covered with medals like a red army parade, offering advice unsolicited and denigrating people for their mistakes, rather than educating.

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  25. Thanks Brother or Bro. Leroy. I'm a 67yo European Australian, a long standing PM, with lots of Freemasonry under my belt and I use Bro. in my emails. Nobody I know is offended, so this is just a personal thing. I'm saddened that this Brother has been disparaged by his Brethren. If you're ever looking to come to Melbourne, we can provide a bedroom, food, coffee, Masonic companionship and Lodge visits.

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