The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
As summer is drawing to a close and lodges come back to life after the recess, we approach autumn and the Centenary of the Armistice – the end of the First World War – which gives us ample time to reflect upon many things connected to tradition, remembrance and the sacrifice our brave forebears made for our country and our allies. An extract from English Freemasonry and the First World War on page 7, puts much of this into perspective and illustrates the need we have for a ‘Permanent Memorial’, of which Freemasons’ Hall in London is a beautiful and imposing example.
One thing that I have long admired about Freemasonry is the upholding of tradition – not only with regards to the Constitutions and Landmarks of the Organisation but also traditions that resonate in everyday life and not just within the lodge. Some perhaps view allegiance to the Monarch, the country and a Supreme Being as old-fashioned and things that need changing but in many ways, these traditions reflect more than the obvious; the ability to respect authority and the law, the necessity to support and uphold the basic tenets of our society, and the belief in something bigger than ourselves to keep us within the boundaries of our human condition. Craig Weightman explores this thinking further in his ‘Quarterly Advancement’ column on page 55.
Freemasonry has always been progressive, demonstrating and encouraging tolerance of all faiths, colours and creeds; it has hosted, and fostered some of history’s most creative free-thinkers and continues to do so. Society is changing rapidly and sometimes it feels difficult to keep up and evolve; many new laws and societal opinions can challenge our long-held perceptions and the pressure to change almost overnight can be hard for many to process. But some long-held traditions can be adapted – for instance the original Constitution stating that only an able-bodied man may join the Craft. This is something that needed to be adaptable, especially after the two World Wars when men returned broken – not just in body but in mind – and craved the support and camaraderie that Masonry is famed for. Thankfully we are seeing positive changes, both within society and Freemasonry, to make access for disabled people a priority. Admittedly this can be, and has been, an expensive and often logistically complicated procedure due to the age of many Masonic halls but it is happening. Brian Baker gives us an in-depth insight into some of the problems faced by lodges in his article ‘Access All Areas’ on page 45, and offers his first-hand experience, not only from the perspective of his disability but also from many years as a Fire Service Officer and consultant.
In July, UGLE announced the Gender Reassignment Policy. Social media has been abuzz with various opinions and we have received a letter on the subject, which is insightful and thought-provoking – see ‘Letters’ page 68. At The Square, we wholeheartedly encourage intelligent debate and hope that the subject, if raised further, will be carried out in the spirit of the ‘Masonic principles of lawfulness, kindness and tolerance’ (UGLE).
Until next time…