In the June 2012 edition of The Working Tools Masonic Magazine I submitted an essay answering that question from my own point of view, and more recently I rewrote it for my Lodge as a handout to prospective members. Since this has been done, we have given out many petitions, and the W.M. of the Lodge hands them out as often as possible. They were also picked up by people attending the Lodge's Friday night fish fry's out of curiosity by all sorts of people, and I thought I would share it here as well.
WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?
As Freemasons we occasionally get asked what is Freemasonry by people who are not members of our Fraternity. This is understandable as there is quite a bit of confusion out there about us. This handout has been designed to inform a man and his family who may be interested in us but may not know much about us. If you would like to know more about us we ask you to continue reading this, and to do so with an open mind and with all seriousness. It is our way of opening up and sharing with those who may not know too much about Freemasonry, and if you should have any more questions after please feel free to ask.
Freemasonry is a wonderful place where men of all ages and backgrounds can come to meet as Brothers in the truest sense of the word. It is a place where a man's word is still law and a handshake means more than one can explain. It is a place where men help each other no matter what the task, the goal of a man is the goal of the group and the goal of the group is the goal of a man. It is a place where good men work together to make each other better men, wiser men, better husbands, fathers, sons and citizens. It is a place to help and give, yet you will receive more from it than you ever could imagine, but not in a material sense and only if your heart is pure and your intentions unselfish.
It is a place of peace and understanding and a place to learn and grow and build yet you never take on these tasks alone. It is a place of friendships that in any other circumstance may have never been possible, where equality is the key and we call each other Brothers and mean it. It is a place of secrets and knowledge that others confuse, yet those secrets and knowledge are easy to understand once you apply yourself and focus on them. It is a place where we use symbols, philosophies and history to learn and to remind us to stay on the right path. It is a school of life and a school of love and understanding, where men are taught to live a better way, a just way and a more understanding way.
It is a place without judgment or cliques and you are never judged by material possessions, political, religious or social status and you really are equal. It is a place of enlightenment and acknowledgement, where you can educate and research or just arrive and eat a good meal in great fellowship. Most of all it is not just one place, not a mere building with four walls and a roof, it is on this place we call Earth and we welcome you with open arms if any of this has interested you.
Well Brothers, that is the gist of it. There where some things toward the end of the handout that touched on famous Freemasons, the Appendant Bodies and our charities, but you all know what those are so there is no sense repeating them yet again.
Yes I do realize that this question has been asked and written about countless times in our history, but there was one thing I learned from writing my version and I still think about it from time to time and it helps me appreciate our Craft. It is that if I think about and reminisce exactly what our Fraternity is about, I learn to appreciate it that much more every single time and remind myself not to take it for granted.