by Brother Brett J. Treichler, 32° , Valley of Reading

Much has been said about the millennial generation. Our flaws and weaknesses have been well covered, and our strengths have been raised by the fair-minded. I do not seek to change your opinion about my generation. Many of us were unprepared for the realities of life, and many are frightened by the world we face.

We learned painful lessons very late: life does not give out participation trophies, and life doesn't come with a reset button. Who is to blame for the situation is a topic for another time, but we feel that the world is full of fake news, global warming, violence, and yes, fear. You may disagree with this assessment, but the feelings still persist among millennials. I argue that we feel this way because we do not know who to trust, as so much of what we were taught in childhood has proven to be false. So, what does it mean to a millennial to be Not just a man. A Mason?

As I sat on my couch, I began to connect a few dots. A man is defined as an adult male human, but what does that mean to me? I made a list.

Then I realized man can also be cruel, vengeful, vindictive, lustful, petty, and dishonest. In short, man is flawed and imperfect. I began to think that my own rational powers might not be as great as I first assumed they were because I am surely far from the first to see that man is flawed. So, I added arrogant to that list, and satisfied that my approach proved the point that man, or at the very least this man, is flawed. I moved on thinking about the traits of a Mason.

Masons build. Genius, right? A Mason builds in the operative sense- in stone. A Mason builds in the speculative sense-the temple in the heart of man. That is when it dawned on me. I realized that my initial definition of man (honest, hard-working, etc.) was somewhat true for me. I may not be perfect at all of those things, but that is the man I want to be, I strive to be, I hope to become. Being a Masons brings out the best in this man. I am a better father, husband, and friend because I am a Brother of this wonderful fraternity, and I bet you are too. Realizing I had come full circle, yet hardly made any groundbreaking philosophical discovery, I headed to bed.

That's where this story would have ended, except I decided to share this tale with my Brothers one night after degree practice. Practice had gone well and we decided to go out for a few beers. At the bar (where so many good conversations happen,) I recounted the story of my "deep thoughts." I got a few laughs but also an unexpected discussion about why each of us became Masons.

Truth, Hope, Honest, Real, and Experience. Those were the words my millennial friends and I used that night to describe what we were seeking when we first asked a friend about becoming a Freemason. Millennials want to become better men. We are all too painfully aware of our faults, but most of us don't know how or when to begin the process of smoothing our ashlars. Or for that matter, who can help us?

Masons are those better men we seek because Masons have truth in spades, hope in abundance, we are honest and real, and we have experience beyond compare. Think about why you're a Mason. Discuss it with other Masons. but most importantly, tell non-Masons why you're a Brother- especially the millennials and Gen Z, because those generations desperately need to hear that message. Some of these men may not be worthy of membership yet, but your good example and message might make all the difference. Never underestimate the power a positive role model can have on another human.

We don't need to sell it, just be honest about why this is truly the greatest fraternity.

This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of the Northern Light.