The desire to learn is defined within the Craft as seeking Light in Masonry. We all possess the curiosity to know the greater secrets that our existence holds. As discussed in an article I wrote in 2017, we seek to answer the three great questions: What am I? From where do I come? Where am I going? A look at the deeper meanings of the three degrees is only the starting point to greater study in an attempt to find answers to those questions. The answers will be different for each of us, and in many cases may never be found.
Along with the desire to learn, the need to belong is just as powerful of a motivator. Man was not created to be a solitary being. He must work together with others for the greater good, to share ideas and create possibilities. The greatest growth in Freemasonry has generally occurred after great upheaval, which in recent memory was the conclusion of World War II. During that war, men of all walks of life came together for a common goal. They became a team. They became brothers, not in the Masonic sense, but in a very real sense. After the war, as the soldiers returned home, there was a sense of loss, of abandonment. Freemasonry at that time provided a replacement for that camaraderie that was lost. We therefore saw great growth in our Craft in the post-World War II period.
So, what happened since? Social upheaval during the 1960’s and 1970’s; technological advances; and the birth of social media. There have been so many changes, and those changes have come at such a rapid pace, that lodges have been challenged in ways never before experienced to find a way to adapt to this new world where our youth interact more electronically than in person. In some cases, lodges who don’t adapt begin to fail.
But the two fundamental drivers listed above continue to attract men with a purpose. And that might not be an accident. Both motivators are buried deep in our subconscious, thus making their pull very powerful. The famous physiologist, Abraham Maslow recognized motivators like these in his famous 1954 work, Motivation and Personality, where he outlined a “hierarchy of needs” that organized and showed how he believed humans were motivated to strive for betterment.
Often represented by a triangle divided into layers, starting with the most basic need, “Physiological,” at the bottom, and continuing upwards through “Safety,” “Love/belonging,” “Esteem,” and culminating in “Self-actualization.” You can see in this model how important Maslow thought belonging was, but what’s most interesting is what he calls, “Self-actualization.” In his explanation of this need, he describes it as seeking “enlightenment” or the desire to be the best person they can be. Sound familiar?
These drivers, and their importance (represented by their position in the hierachy) are key to understanding and adapting to the needs of our modern society, and the potential members coming from it.
Understanding these motivators and how the Lodge can help to facilitate a brother’s journey to fulfill them is vital to the health and happiness not just for that member, but the Lodge as a whole.