I get from readers’ questions about the slogan “making good men better” like in what way and how? So this is a great question about the practical application of Freemasonry into our lives. Today, we will discuss this slogan.
Understanding the slogan “Making good men better”.
This is a great question, and I need to repeat it. However, as you’re calling it, this slogan is a bit of a controversy in Freemasonry. Because does it the claim here being that Freemasonry as an organization takes good men and makes them better, but how can that be so this is not a forced organization.
This is something that people had to determine to join and then in joining. They can decide to leave it at any time. They could leave it the same day. They joined it the next day or 10 years down the road.
And how in such a voluntary fraternity, where membership is required to be paid. It costs money and all this.
Other stipulations that make it clear that Freemasonry is not going to force anything on anybody. Sure, It can set rules and It can tell you you know if you don’t abide by these bylaws. These principles, then Freemasonry is not going to let you be a member.
But the slogan says making good men better and that tends to be taken is a very forceful thing like no matter what Freemasonry will make you better if you were a good man in the first place. So let’s sort of tear this down just a little bit without overanalyzing it too much.
First and foremost, Freemasonry is a worldwide organization. You may not find this phrase being used everywhere, but it does seem to be pretty standard. So take it with a grain of salt. It is not something that Freemasonry across the world has to use. We’ve talked in others about how every jurisdiction has their own sovereignty. As such, they’re going to come up with their own slogans and phrases to try to promote the fraternity or to try and explain what the fraternity does.
So no one spokesman for the whole group is what we’re really trying to say. This also sorts of puts a connotation into things that essentially says that if you weren’t a good man in the first place, there’s no hope for you. And that also stirs up a bit of the controversy after all. It takes a point explicitly to say that it takes good men and makes them better. It doesn’t say that it just makes better men.
So what are we trying to say with that? I think there is a factual light like take it for the actual definitions of the word, and then there’s the intent of what’s trying to be said here. I don’t think we can look at this in the sense of how the words could be defined, which might say that if you have ever had any sort of an instance in your life that would be considered morally objectable. As such, in your culture, you might be considered to have been a bad person or have done bad things in the past that Freemasonry can’t have an influence on your life and make you better.
I don’t think we can read it that way. I think the intended message here is to say that. If you can have a space for goodness in your heart then Freemasonry can help you expand upon that.
I also don’t think that we can take the literal definition and try to suggest that. This phrase means that Freemasonry as an organization as an institution. Somehow can force you to become good.
I think what we instead have to realize that Freemasonry provides you with some instruction, some tools, and knowledge that can help you become better yourself.
This is not a situation there just because you paid your dues, just because you came to Lodge every whenever your Lodge meets that you are by default going to become a better person. I want to think that maybe because of being exposed to men who ought to be living in a moral and upright way that just by the influence of being around them that that might somehow wear off on you.
But the thing here isn’t that Freemasonry is not going to bring you into the fraternity and then put you through some kind of the program where at the end you get a gold star, and they say congratulations.
You’re a better man; that’s just not how it works; instead, you have to be the person look inside of yourself and say okay. Freemasonry talks about these kinds of moral principles and applies them to them in these kinds of situations.
What can I learn from that? How can I apply that to my day-to-day life?
A lot of Freemasonry, for example, uses the symbolism of building a physical structure being stonemasons and erecting a building like King Solomon’s Temple. But I’m not a stonemason. That’s not what I do for a living, so how in the world does that apply to me.
We’ve got to be able to take a more philosophical understand of these lessons and think about how to apply them in our lives. Not just at work at home and how we deal with the general public as well.
Freemasonry: Making good men better. Why?
Because we can all be better, I don’t know of another way to explain that a single person out there thinks that this is it. They’ve reached the top, and there’s nothing whatsoever about themselves that they can improve. Then I feel confident I can show you somebody who is wrong and has limited their understanding of what’s possible. I’m convinced that I think there’s always something we can be improving on.
So then why is because we should always be trying to improve ourselves at some capacity. And the how depends on you specifically, because Freemasonry is not going to put you through a step-by-step program on how to turn yourself into a better person. It’s going to give you some illusions and examples. Then you will have to find out how to apply that in your life.
Now you may not have to do that entirely on your own. You may be able to have those discussions inside your Lodge room with your brethren. You may be able to speak to them on the side, maybe you guys just went out for lunch somewhere and you in one of these kinds of conversations come up. But in the end, you have to hold yourself responsible for actually taking the time to understand these lessons and think about ways to apply them to yourself.
You have to decide to reach out to books and read other people’s opinions and how they have applied these so that you can maybe get a better understanding of how to go about that. So the howl is very much dependent on the individual and this can go way back to Delphic Maxim’s of things like knowing thyself, which is a ubiquitous phrase and like the Scottish Rite and all sorts of mystery schools.
So really something you can take into hand and that you have to put in your own heart and really put to use. There’s nothing I can do to make you become a better man.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoyed this. We’ll see you next time goodbye.
by Bro. Andre M. Noble