Just wanted to say this before I get into the main point of this post: I honestly believe we need to pay more attention to our mental health than our physical health. If you look at the tragedies of late, you'd have noticed a lot of these terrible tragedies could have been prevented if we had a real way of dealing with patients of mental health. Drug abuse, substance abuse, PTSD, etc are all mental conditions and they need to be treated by licensed professionals. The problem is that there are too many of these professionals who are too quick to prescribe you on some medication and send you on your way, or the costs of seeking such help is too high. Hopefully with the healthcare reform, this can be addressed. In the meantime we suffer from a society that has a relatively low priority and even a stigma on those who suffer from mental health conditions. They are not any different from me and you, they just need a little bit more help. And for those like me who suffer or have suffered with such mental ailments, please do not ignore the signs. Go seek proper help.
Now that I've got that out the way, let me bring it to the context of freemasonry.
A while ago, I read about a brother who committed murder-suicide. He left a note that got me thinking what the real purpose of our fraternity is. In the past year, I have talked to many brothers who have been through a lot: job loss, financial troubles, child custody troubles, marriage trouble, divorce trouble, drug abuse problems, alcohol problems etc. These brothers confided to me about in secret and in confidence, but I wonder: why not address this in front of a lodge of your so-called "brothers"?
Trust me, I have had my share of being in front of that altar asking for help, and got chewed out. Granted I understand their mindset at that point in time, but at that time I needed help. I've not gone in front of a lodge or asked my lodge for help ever since. I'm sure there are many with similar stories, and hopefully they won't go to the extent as our brother in California did.
So at the end of the day, if we can not follow up with what we learned on getting raised as Master Masons and be our own brothers keeper, then my question is: what is the use of our fraternity? If we can not call on a brother for help or at least a listening ear, or some wise words of counsel, or just a person who can hear our deepest thoughts without judgment or reservation, what are we in this fraternity for?
What is the purpose of "making good men better" if we can't help good men who go through bad times? What is the essence of calling another man a brother if I can't treat him as such? What do I gain from a lodge that wants to disavow me when I go through troubles even when I have invested in it so much with all that i have got? What use is it if I can't call a brother a friend?
Some of us get lost in the battle of politics, titles and the social superficialities that embellish our fraternity and often forget about one basic principle: we are our brother's keeper. We need to start raising not just masons, but brothers. We need to start reaching out and keeping our brothers close. We need to make our lodges closer and more intimate than the lodges of 200 people with only 10 people showing up. We need to make our bonds between ourselves and our families closer. That's what we really need to do: be our own support.
As men, we are more inclined to secluding ourselves in times of trouble: internalizing our frustrations and hardships and troubles and dealing with them in our heads. As much as we need to move forward and fix things, we need to learn how to have a healthy outlet. We need to learn to find those people around us who can help us become better and help us and be our pillars when we are weak. We need brothers, not masons. We need to start making them. We need to start becoming one.