2B1…Be One.

2B1ASK1

If you’re a Mason, or have been exploring Masonry at all, you’ve seen this terrible, bumper sticker slogan that is fixing all our membership problems. Yeah, I’m a bit bitter about it, because this gem from the reject-pile of Tuesday edition cryptoquips is, purely in an artistic sense, the literary equivalent of husky size jeans at a JC Penney’s. In a more poetic sense, it’s just a damn train wreck.

2B1ASK1. First, is there a single visual that better sums up our abbreviated McMasonry that we’re peddling in some jurisdictions? No, we can’t bother to spell it all out. And we can’t bother to do full openings and closings, or require anyone to learn all the memorization we used to have to learn. We don’t have time to guide  an initiate from zero to 32 degrees in over an afternoon.

I hope if one thing is clear from my writing, it’s that I’m not really a black tie-wearing, traditional observance Freemason that some are. Honestly, I think there’s a right place and right time for a one-day-to-masonry class. I think we need to be flexible, as a group. But how does this abridged license plate really express that Masonry is a lifetime pursuit? Is a 2nd grade rebus the show-opener to the esoteric mysteries of the Craft and the self that we really want to lead with?

I suppose that’s all marketing, though. “Matt,” you surely say, “don’t you think you’re reading too much into this? It’s just for buttons and t-shirts. It’s so people know how to become a Freemason.”

My problem is that I also think it’s wrong. Horribly wrong. It says that Freemasonry is a club. You wan’t in? Ask. We’ll run it by the boys. You’ll pay a small fee for parts and labor, and you get the secret passwords, and you’re in. You’re a Mason, and just because you asked!

Brothers…there are plenty of card-carrying Freemasons who don’t deserve that title. Hell, I don’t even deserve it all the time. The are men who have reached the highest echelons of authority who are just flat out terrible at being a decent guy. And there are people who have never even heard of the word “freemason,” people who probably couldn’t be voted into a lodge of Master Masons if there were only four people left on Earth and three of them were already Master Masons…and they’re just beautiful people. Just beautiful, honest, honorable people.

Don’t misunderstand me. Being “in the club” is important. It’s part of what makes us a brotherhood. It gives engine to our steam, so we can focus that into drive. But a Freemason is something different. It’s someone who has come to find that honorable action, self-control, and the sacred law of G-d are the great lights of Creation. Someone who has taken up their own tools to rebuild themselves. Brothers, this is a journey of a lifetime that need not, and should not, be walked alone, but it can be.

Much like the gravediggers sing in the rather poignantly titled Oh Brother, Where Art Thou:

You gotta walk that lonesome valley
You gotta walk it by yourself,
Nobody here can walk it for you.

The truth is something my LEO told me when I entered the Craft. To be one…be one.

Nothing has rung more true in my mind. Freemasonry isn’t a bestowal. It is an act. It’s an action verb. You are only a Freemason when you are actually trying. Even when trying and failing. But when you’re just doing nothing. When you’re not showing up, physically or spiritually; when you go through the motions and go home; when you practice the antithesis of brotherly love, well… I guess you’ve still got your bumper sticker.

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5 thoughts on “2B1…Be One.

  1. I feel your passion Matt. I am going to take it one step further. First, the 2B1ASK1 campaign is fine, but no one uses it. We can’t ask someone to join (because its not a club), but we sure can bring it up in conversation to men and women who we feel is a good person who wants to be better. I say women because I engage them in conversion concerning the Order of the Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls and maybe they have a spouse that would be a good Mason too. I even mention organizations we currently don’t have but would like to rekindle when enough interest is shown such as DeMolay. Now, all this is O.K. to mention in conversation to see if they reciprocate, but if they show no interest then drop it because we are looking for people that want to be members. We don’t beg and if we do you end up with someone who does not care about the craft and doesn’t even show up. It shows up in other ways also like how they dress, their language and manners, and so on.
    All of this culminates in an age old process we use to determine if these candidates are worthy. You don’t have to read the petition, investigate, and vote in the next 30 days. Invite them to dinners; ask them to volunteer, etc. By making them apart of the lodge up front you can see if they care enough to wear a suit or show up to cook breakfast or hamburgers at a fund raiser. The process needs to be methodical and every candidate will be different. When I first became a Master Mason I wanted to expedite this process until I seen a few brothers pushed through and never even show up again or pay their dues. If your lodge is on life support then maybe some expediency is required but always beware!
    Last I would like to say that not every brother is perfect and it is after they join that we begin to pick at them because of this flaw or that. Brothers! STOP IT! We are all flawed and wish to improve ourselves. We are learning how to work with one another and we all have different personalities, backgrounds, education, learning abilities, etc., so please try to follow our Grand Architect in the tenants of Masonry: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. We are learning to become leaders in our communities and the skills we learn in Masonry take time. This is not a lifelong journey, but an eternal one, and this is the time of preparation.

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