Charity can be a trap, and we as mentors must remain on guard as to the difference of giving as part of our selves versus giving for the feelings of return. How can charity be a trap? Helping others is no trap!
Let us examine the differences and study them so we can learn and grow together. Yes, charity for charity’s sake can turn into a trap. When we feel good, we want to repeat the steps that got us to that feel good place. We want that release of hormones that flood the body with that feel-good feeling of helping our friends and neighbors, especially children. We can become addicted to that feeling and hormone release to the point of pursuing it like a drug.
To that, I say don’t stop doing charity, but we must understand our internal motivations. Let us examine what that means inwardly. Did we just perform an act of charity, or was that act of charity just another part of our being? Those are two different things. Those are three different things if you plug in “reward” as an option. In my opinion, charity with reward is meaningful only to those receiving the charity. Those performing charity with the intent of collecting a reward on the charitable act? I don’t see that as charity.
There’s another difference that should be explored, and that is coming together for fun to do or fund charitable functions. I totally agree with this, and I encourage even more participation. Charitable organizations have a big function within society, and helping them by way of pancake breakfasts, sporting clay events, or other fundraising activities is absolutely legit. It is always good to have fellowship with my brothers while working toward a good cause.
Now we get down to the giving as a natural part of ourselves. We as Masons are not a charitable fraternity. We are not. We are a fraternity that works on a common goal of self-improvement. Period, but not the end. Self-improvement by nature includes helping others as we have been helped ourselves. Consider Plato’s cave as an example. As we come to more and more light, the cave comparison to the degrees is staggering. We are obligated to help others again and again. We are told in lecture after lecture, charge after charge, that we are to be the examples and to lead by example.
When we are living in balance, that balance is Faith, Hope, and Charity. We can discuss the original mis-translation of Agape Love into Charity, and that is a legitimate discussion. However, let’s just focus now on what charity means. Charity is a part of us. Charity/Agape balances two other pillars of that to which we aspire. Masons don’t do charity because we want a reward; we do charity because charity is part of who we are as we continue to be better people.
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12 year span. Randy is a 32nd degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.