My interest in Freemasonry is not a recent development. As a child in the 6th grade, I remember seeing the Square and Compass on a stately, historic building on our town square. The odd dates and strange symbols on the doors and windows gained my interest.
As I grew older, the fascination with Masonry held me. I was quick to read any volume that I could on the Craft. I was always careful to avoid conspiratorial "works." First and foremost, I found them to be so outlandish as to not be worth reading. Second, I did not feel them to be a fair critique of the Craft. Ninety-nine of 100 authors writing about Freemasonry's "dark side" have never set foot in Lodge. How could they claim to know any secrets?
Regardless of what I knew to be factual about Freemasonry, I didn't seek out membership. After all, I didn't really know for sure what went on behind the closed door. Were the rumors and tales true? Did members really have to swear blood oaths and ride farm animals? Despite all my study and research, I remained a wallflower Mason for many years.
Finally, my interest took me to the point of seeking out membership. Middle aged with three children, settled in my location and career, I sought out the Lodge I would come to join. A full-fledged member of the Millennial generation with all the computer knowledge thereby bestowed, I did a bit of research and found the Lodge Treasurer to be an acquaintance. A brief conversation led to my petition, quickly followed by a unanimous vote allowing me to join.
Becoming a Mason was one of the best decisions I've ever made, perhaps second only to asking my wife to marry me. Freemasonry's raison detre is the free exercise of man to do as he feels led by God to do. It does not does not demand of a man tithes or attendance. It does not demand he swear any oaths or allegiances that he is uncomfortable with. It does not ask him to do anything which he feels to come between he and God, or he and his government. It simply requires that he believe in God, and that he seek to communicate with Him daily.
Masonry facilitates this search for spiritual truth in a realm free of dogma and politicism. The Lodge is a place where men can meet together without regard for a Brother's faith, race, or nationality. Masonry is the best and largest organization I know of which pursues this goal of secular spiritual enlightenment. Whatever one choses to believe is their choice and their choice alone. It is not the job of Masons to tell other Masons what to believe; this is an intensely personal decision which no man should force onto another.
Freemasonry does not seek to harm anyone - it seeks to peacefully coexist with all. It is not at war with social orders, churches, or political parties. If, however, the enlightened mindset of Freemasons cause outdated social norms to fall, religious fanaticism to fade away, and corrupt governance to be voted out of office, so be it.
I believe the partisanship of our society is destroying us from within. I am tired of Sunday sermons which demand political loyalties and demonize those who believe differently. I feel that, like Lodge, society should be accepting of all views and open to all opinions. We are all created by the same Great Architect and we all aspire to meet with Him someday. We solve nothing by arguing with or ignoring those who think differently. The answer is to live with cooperation, mutual respect, and harmony. Exactly what Freemasonry seeks to further in this world. This is why I am a Freemason.