Recently I was sitting with a group of Brethren from around the State. In the outside world, they were teachers, nurses, handymen, emergency services, businessmen, fathers, etc.; in the Masonic world, they represented all levels of involvement and experience. Over the course of the evening, as we discussed life inside and outside Lodge, each man uttered some variation of this phrase: 'Ultimately, I am accountable and responsible.'
Upon later reflection and when unpacked, that phrase is incredibly Masonic.
Responsible: Obliged to do something. For generations, Masons have been the “men of note” in their communities. We are obligated to step up, to act, to do what we say we will do, to do it to the best of our ability, to do what is best and what is right for our Brethren, our Lodge, our widows and orphans, our families, and our communities. We have a duty to ourselves and those around us to put our values into action.
And: In addition to or connected to. Masonry provides the opportunity for Masons to connect to personal and local history, with a multitude of diversely defined communities, with the wisdom of generations past, with the hope and promise of generations next, with the power of Ritual and Tradition; with the assurance provided from Sacred Things through a Brotherhood that spans time and distance. Masonry thrives in connection and dies in isolation.
Accountable: Answerable for personal actions or decisions. As Masons, we hold ourselves to a certain standard; that whatever hypocrisy, deceit, negligence, carelessness, rashness, or wrong may exist in the outside word; that we will make the choice to be honest, prudent, conscientious, charitable, just, and do what’s right. We are defined by our choices: whether or not we choose to speak up; whether or not we choose to act; whether or not we are true to our word. We know that we will be answerable for our choices to our Brethren, our loved ones, the Great Architect of the Universe, and ourselves.
Ultimately: Fundamentally or finally. In much of our world, it is easy to pass the buck, throw someone else under the bus, deflect attention, hide in the crowd, or escape the consequences of our actions. Freemasonry is a diverse global institution; but it all comes down to the choices of the individual Mason. When we hear others talk about the decline of Masonry, how Masonry in our Lodge or community is under attack, how this technology or this generation or this Grand Lodge requirement is to blame; when we hear others cry “Someone needs to do something about the health of Masonry in this Lodge! Someone needs to do something about this issue in our community! Who’s going to do something about this?” This is where the individual Mason steps forward and says: