As a child in England I remember our next door neighbour going out in the evening in tails and wondered where he was going. He was a kind gentleman always ready to help others during the difficult times of the Second World War. Eventually I came to NZ and about 25 years ago joined a Lions club as a way of giving back to my community. There I met a man who seemed to be the “go to person” who everyone held in high esteem, and one evening he asked me I had thought about becoming a Freemason. I said no as I was very involved in Lions at the time, but I read information he gave me and whatever else I could find about the craft good and bad and promptly forgot about it!
Years later at a JP evening I was approached by three colleagues all of whom were Lions and was asked if it wasn’t about time I had another look at Freemasonry!!. I agreed, and there followed a series of meetings where the history, and aims of the craft were explained to me and the concept of fellowship, service to others, education and self-improvement were in line with my life goals. I have not been disappointed.
First of all we are a fraternal organization. In fact the oldest still active in the world. That meant something very special to me. I think it is important to reflect on the origins and history of the Freemasons. In the middle ages the powers to be; royalty, nobility and churches were the source of major building projects; Castles, Churches, and Holds were all projects that required the services of Architects, Craftsman, Builders, Project Managers and skilled labour. Freemasons started as the source and control of these skills. Think of it as skilled middle class. As the source of this special knowledge; the group became more than a trade organization. It became the molder of men. The Craft was responsible for bring young men through the learning and moral teaching that was required to complete building projects that took special knowledge and years to complete. Thus Freemasons became the repository of the Crafts knowledge and methods. Knowing the origins and history it is understandable why we use symbols, rituals and ceremonies’ that outsiders do not understand. They are the tenants, tools, ceremonies and symbols of the Craft. Every technical group has special words and symbols that they use within their membership. Doctors have their own vocabulary; engineers use words that most people find unfathomable and lawyers the same. The worldwide web has innumerable false tirades about the secrete Freemason organization. I laugh when I see the crazy things written about us. Some see darkness in our secrets; first of all, there not very secret. You can find them everywhere on the Web. Our rituals are meant to honor our past and history and as teaching moments for new members as they pass through the stages of Freemasonry. We are still an organization with the goal of molding young men into good moral sons, brothers, husbands and citizens. We have been called a secret religion. We are not a religion, even though we subscribe to a universal architect. Whether that is a god or even the laws and mathematics of science; our members come from all races, creeds and religions, even atheism. In our lodge we have members across the spectrum and I really enjoy the times we share as bothers. This is why I am and will stay a freemason. William Kennedy