Within Freemasonry there are core principles upon which everything else is built. These principles define who we are and what we do as Freemasons. Traditionally these were referred to as The Three Great Principles; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Of course, over time language changes and evolves.
These days, we explain it like this:
Freemasons are focused on building themselves as people of integrity and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal.
Freemasonry provides the common foundation for friendships between members, many of which will last for life.
Freemasonry brings people together irrespective of their race, religion or any other perceived differences that can divide us as a society.
Kindness and charitable giving are deeply ingrained within the principles of Freemasonry and the organisation provides the structure for members to make positive contributions to their communities and various causes.
For each of those who join, Freemasonry means different things to every Mason. Some Freemasons enjoy meeting new people and expanding their circle of friends. For others charity is one of the primary reasons, being able to help deserving causes and helping to make a difference to family and society. For most Freemasons it is simply an enjoyable hobby they share with like-minded people from a surprisingly wide and diverse spread of society.
As one of the worlds laregst and oldest fraternal, charitable, non-religious and non-political organisations, Freemasonry teaches self-knowledge through participation through a progression of ceremonies. Members are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry and are expected to be of high moral standing.
Freemasonry is a fraternal society, concerned with moral and spiritual values. Members are taught its guiding principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) via a series of ritual dramas – a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge – Using medieval stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides*.
A moral and ethical approach to life is instilled in its members, its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
(*An allegory is a term for a figure of speech. It is a story or picture with a hidden meaning. The characters in allegories are symbols which represent particular ideas. The story has a figurative meaning, not just a literal one. For example, a fable or parable is a short allegory with one basic idea or moral, so it is within Freemasonry).