|Modern Tracing Board by Joseph Thompson|
It should be evident to any Mason who has given serious thoughts to the state of Freemasonry, that the tried and true answers that have frequently been spoken of are insufficient to bring new life into Freemasonry. Freemasonry, to be again vibrant and successful as an institution, must have renewed purpose.
It is not going to capture that energy it needs to become strong again by speaking of "making good men better" or even speaking in a more substantive way of the Mason's search for self understanding and improvement. There are too many ways for people to do that. While those things will remain in the heart of Freemasonry, and of course also in its living practice, we need more. Freemasonry needs a new spirit, a new focus to see itself renewed.
Today, we find ourselves in a new world - postmodern, post-industrial and although not all have realized or admitted it yet, a post-capitalist one. If there are any space in which Freemasonry can make itself relevant today, it most surely will be by offering light on the societal challenges we face. Those are, among others, the ecological crisis we face as a planet, and the social and humanitarian crises that our now global society will have to deal with urgently and effectively if we are to survive as a species.
These ideas may seem to those who were initiated and raised in what is thought of today as "old school" Freemasonry as startling, or at least unconsidered, but are they that foreign to the spirit which inspired the foundation of Speculative Freemasonry in its early days? I think not. It seems that as Freemasons, we have bigger fish to fry than worrying about falling numbers and how to make lodge more interesting for young people. Freemasons always led by example, and I think it is time that we do so again.
It only takes a few visionaries. Does the craft still have any of those?