10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

From a Masonically-affiliated teen
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Freemasons. That's a name or title we hear quite a bit. Are they Illuminati? A cult? A secret society? As someone who has worked closely with the Freemasons — a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls — and has seen some things that many people haven't, I can tell you a little bit more about them.

1. Freemasons love charity work.
What? How could it be? How could a society of men behind closed doors love to do charity? These men are involved in so many things without getting recognition for them. The Shriner's Hospitals are run by Freemasons. Freemasons spend time and effort working for different charities as well as fundraising for them. On top of that, many masonic lodges sponsor local troops of boy scouts as well as host masonic youth organizations in their buildings. A big charity that many lodges work with is actually the American Red Cross!

2. Freemasons are goofballs.
Honestly! Masons may take things more seriously when it comes to running their businesses, but at their public events, they are fun people to be around. As a matter of fact, at nearly every Masonic "installation" I've been to, the outgoing Master, or leader, of the lodge gets "reintroduced" to his wife because he has been so busy taking care of lodge matters. I once received a bobble head of Benjamin Franklin from a lodge for helping them paint poles.

3. There are so many branches of Freemasonry.
As previously mentioned, Freemasons run the Shriner's Hospitals. That's because, in order to be a Shriner, you must first be a Master Mason. One of my close friends is a member of so many masonic organizations that I lose track of them all. He may be at anywhere from seven to 13 different organizations. One of them being (and I really kid you not) The Grand and Glorious Order of the Hillbillies. Really.

4. Freemasonry is not a rare, exclusive organization.
Any man over the age of 18 can become a Master Mason. However, the Freemasons are a respectable organization, so they will run background checks to make sure that a man trying to join isn't a criminal, and they'll call you for an interview to make sure you'd be a good fit in that lodge. It's a lot like getting a job, and some will say that with the work you put into Freemasonry, it IS a job. At least my Freemason friends love it.

5. The Freemasons are family friendly!
The lodge that I meet in for my organizations hosts a family potluck dinner once a month in order to get to know all the groups, and the people involved, as well as their families. Not only is it a ton of fun, it's also a great way to raise a little bit of money for the expenses for the lodge. Our building gets used a LOT. Anywhere from 2 different masonic youth groups, OES, Masonry, Clockmakers, and even a Dungeons and Dragons group meet in our lodge. Never on the same day, of course.

6. Freemasons take pride in their work.
I can't stress enough how incredible it is to see work performed by the Freemasons. Attending their public events, such as Installations of Officers, gives a glimpse of the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. Their traditions are well loved, and it shows in their floor work (the way they walk) and the way they recite their "ritual", which is a speaking part, like a script in a play.

7. The Freemasons are a band of brothers.
And they do actually call each other brothers. In OES, we call the ladies "Sister" and the men "Brother". That is no different in Freemasonry, but because Freemasons are all men, they are all "brother". They can not stress enough the importance of brotherhood in masonry, and it is that brotherhood that keeps them as close-knit and successful as they have been. They are a fraternity, remember.

8. Each Freemason is entitled to his own opinion.
From what I've seen, all masons have the right to think and believe however they choose. Masonry is not about brainwashing you to believe in one specific God. Masonry is also not its own religion, though they ask each member to be religious in their own way. Masonry does not discriminate against religion, political ideas, race, sexuality, or anything like that.

9. Masonry is not a cult.
At least, in the typical idea of a cult. Technically, according to Merriam Webster, a cult is a system of religious beliefs and ritual. If you would consider the joining of all religious faiths under one ritual (again, similar to the script of a play) in order to celebrate brotherhood, then yes, Freemasonry is a cult. Unfortunately, many see it as a dangerous thing. Many see it as a group of people who are potentially sacrificing animals or people to the devil in order to gain power, or something. Though I myself don't know what goes on in their regular meetings, I have a fairly good idea that it isn't that.

10. Even though a woman can't be a Mason, they are important.
I have seen many things saying that behind every good Mason is a strong woman. To the Shriner's, the ladies are hugely important because it's their support that allows the Shriner's to do so much. That's why there are so many Masonic organizations for women. Though now not every Mason is a straight man, who may have a boyfriend or husband backing him through his travels, women are a hugely important part of Freemasonry. Women help prepare refreshments for the men, help plan events, and even "donate" her husband or significant other to the lodge, as he serves a year as the Master of the lodge. Masonry is a family affair, and so the women of the family are included in that.

I hope this helped a little to shed some light on this great fraternity. The Masons are incredible men, who work hard in their community to bring charity and brotherly love to the area. I have never met a Freemason who I was uncomfortable to be around, I have never gotten an "evil" vibe from them. Watching their work has been an incredible journey, and working with them has been even better.

Cover Image Credit: Rae Kaiser

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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