A Brotherhood Of Hearts

From my modest position within the Lodge and alongside my Brothers, I had the chance, despite the constraints of life, to evolve at my own pace in an environment conducive to personal and collective growth. And to witness that there is indeed an understanding that the more we are rooted in the love for the Divine and our country, the more we are willing to embrace each other.

The strength of Freemasonry lies in the cohesion of its members. Only, in Masonry, this union is not the result of an imposed discipline. It arises from an initiatory experience that binds us. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to strengthen the fraternal bonds that unite all Masons.

It is not always easy to modify one’s thinking. At times, it requires us to step back from our deeply held beliefs and listen. We have to accept that our Brother may not fit into a perfect box and recognize that there are others, different, but each having just as much reason for being.

This inclusion of people who have come from elsewhere and whom we have accepted as Brothers generates feelings of wellbeing. These feelings are reassuring and make us realize that all men, whoever they are and wherever they come from, are our Brothers. This makes me optimistic for the future of our Craft.

Could this awareness help us all become a little more human and fraternal?

The “Brotherhood of Hearts” offers avenues for reflection, commitment and concrete actions.

This notion of fraternity supports a new ethic for the good of the human race: an ethic that promotes laying an improved foundation for our relationships with other men and with the Divine.

The ethics of our relationships with other men must be expressed in a simple principle, that of solidarity. It is a question of reawakening the strong sense of community, in which humans feel responsible for the wellbeing of all and will stamp their daily actions with the mark of this solidarity.

There remains our ethics with the Divine, that is in us or above us, according to the religious convictions of each. These questions of religious diversity and acceptance within Freemasonry will be the subject of an upcoming conference in Spring 2024.

Yet another question torments me: How do we explain that this beautiful word “fraternity” remains absent in public debates? It is a more delicate topic for public figures to cover than those of freedom and equality. With fraternity, we speak to the heart and not only to reason. There is also a spiritual dimension which stems from its religious origin.

Through my Brothers, I was fortunate to learn that fraternity is, first of all, about the individual.

For me, the discovery of otherness goes through the individual. The embrace of an individual creates an invitation to adopt ethical behavior because each person is unique; every person carries a uniqueness that commands respect. Ethics arise from this encounter.

The structure of the Masonic Lodge encourages fraternal behavior. The positive feelings of a young initiate towards his Brothers is quickly transformed, if he makes an effort, into true fraternal bonds. But this transformation is not instantaneous. Time must act for the links to be established.

The bonds thus created will bring us closer to each other. We will no longer be strangers because we will have taken the time to get to know each other.

In Masonry, we are accustomed to giving a measure to all things and to rejecting dogmas. The Masonic fraternity, like all institutions, has its own limits.

These limits depend on the sincerity of our commitment. Masonry provides and man disposes: all are free to progress, but everyone is also free to accept or refuse the wealth offered to them. Everyone is free to collaborate and contribute to the common heritage of mankind.

A Lodge is what we make it. Every Brother is responsible for what it will become through their positive or negative participation. Act in the interest of all and work to create an ideal environment. We must bring to receive, continually question ourselves to maintain the initiatic nature of our approach, remember that our pride is to create unity in diversity and, to do this, use the language of the heart, persevere in our approach and use the tools we were given to help us uncover the truth.

The radiance of the Lodge lies in our will to persevere in the search for knowledge. To remain humble, to subdue our passions, not to demolish but to transform and build, not to judge but to love, to act for the good of all. We will inherit the Lodge we will build, so too we will inherit the world we will build.

To act in this spirit, the “Brotherhood of Hearts” must remain our act of faith to give purpose to our endeavor. The success of our project at the service of human fraternity depends on the active participation of each Brother.

So Mote It Be!

Written by:
Bro. Anis D. Okbani

Bro. Okbani is a proud New York Mason, member of Anchor Astoria Lodge no. 729 and Cornucopia Lodge no. 563, Queens District, 32° Scottish Rite Mason, Member of the Royal Arch Masons, and also a proud member of the Shriners. Anis Okbani’s fellowship is enjoyed by many brothers at several Grand Lodge and District social events as well as charitable endeavors.