On Brotherly Love
As we are in the month of February and Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I felt an
appropriate piece of education would centre on love, brotherly love specifically. As one of the tenets of Masonry, it is something that we should all constantly strive for.....but what exactly does brotherly love look like? How to we express it? Why are there so many ‘fraternal’ orders in the world which attempt to teach a similar lesson?
Like all things in Masonry the true meaning of brotherly love is something that is defined within each of us. Some of us have biological siblings, so we have a certain understanding of what it is to love a brother, but the relationships we have and develop with our masonic brethren are different still. The feeling that we get walking into a lodge surrounded by likeminded people is something that is difficult to describe and it is not something that is immediately evident to the new mason. From my own personal experience, I can attest to the fact that initially, it’s not something that I was accustomed to. Over time, however, I have come to my own understanding of what brotherly love is and how it fits into my life.
My Masonic brethren are people I know I can turn to, people who I know I can trust, and to whom I endeavor to offer the same. But moreover, to me, the greater lesson of brotherly love to is not confined the people within this room or within the craft. Brotherly love, to me, refers to us all as human beings. While there is, undoubtedly a special connections and fraternal bond that I will always share with other Masons, my brotherly love extends to the human race as a whole. To me, the brotherly love we speak of within our fraternity is two-fold. Firstly, the way I associated with, and the special bond I share with members of the Craft: that unique connection we have as people striving for the same things and trying to better ourselves by and through the lesson of Freemasonry. Secondly, it also refers to the ongoing endeavor to look at humanity as a whole through the eyes of a brother; that is, to treat our fellow man, as we would a brother, to love him, and to care for him as we would a member of our own family, for in the end, our collective humanity is our deepest bond. "The Golden Rule or law of reciprocity is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures".
To say that thinking of others, especially veritable strangers, as brothers is easy would be a falsehood. We don’t always agree with people. We have disagreements and arguments; but don’t we disagree and argue with our families at home as well? Accepting and instilling brotherly love on others is not always natural, nor is it always easy, but it is always worth striving for, whether in Lodge, or outside the tyled recesses of our Temples.
American poet, Maya Angelou, said:
“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.”
Brethren, Brotherhood is undeniably something we have to work at, but the reward is undeniably well worth the effort.