The novelist Franz Kafka wrote: 'Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old'
And Albert Einstein wrote: 'The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.' And so it is with young people, they possess an innate curiosity and an inherent capacity to see beauty in those things that adults all too often take for granted. How do the young view Freemasonry? Does it appeal to them and, if so, what is its appeal?
11 year old Thomas Kenyon, the son of Graham Kenyon who is a member of Brotherhood Lodge No. 3967, is ideally qualified to answer those and other searching questions. A bright young man with an inquisitive mind and an eye for good in humanity and the world in general, Thomas relates the elements of Freemasonry that appeals to him. Top of his list is that Freemasonry supports charities and tries to improve the lives of people around them. Asked if he could give examples of masonry’s charitable work Thomas replied: 'Well, I know of cases where masons have provided artificial limbs to people and they have supplied play equipment and computers to schools. They care for those who are less fortunate than themselves.'
Already determined to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a mason when old enough, Thomas went on to say that masons don’t only do things to enhance the lives of others, but strive to improve themselves.
'They get dressed up when they go to a meeting so that they look smart and set a good example to others in society. There have been a lot of masons who have been excellent role models. Winston Churchill was a mason and you can’t find a better role model than him'.
Asked how he had discovered that Churchill had been a Freemason, 'We went on a tour of the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum under Downing Street, London that was opened as a war museum in 1984 and on the same day we went to United Grand Lodge in Queen Street and were shown into the Grand Temple. It was brilliant with the huge doors and stained glass window and displays of masonic regalia and things. There were even masonic things from concentration camps in Nazi Germany. It was fascinating.'
History is one of Thomas’ particular passions, along with chess and riding his bike and scooter. Despite having customised his scooter, he prefers his bike because the scooter wheels get caught in the gaps between paving slabs – a very practical consideration for an 11 year old.
Elucidating on his interest in history he said, 'I find WWII most interesting because I can’t understand why the Nazis were so intolerant and hated Jews, Freemasons, gypsies, and such. What makes people hate so much? But not all Nazis were evil. Oskar Schindler saved 1,200 Jews at immense risk to his own life. I don’t know if he was a Freemason but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was' - a compliment indeed for the fraternity.
Thomas then said that he had read an article in Freemasonry Today about the German occupation of Jersey and had been fascinated by the events that occurred during that period.
Through his father, Thomas knows a number of Freemasons and in his view they are nice, well-mannered and considerate people and he can appreciate why they have so many good friends.
'It must be really nice to be in a group of like-minded people' is his verdict. Having visited the Masonic Hall, Adelaide Street, Blackpool during heritage open days, he is also curious of the lodge furnishings and symbolism on the walls and considers the masonic regalia to be extremely impressive. 'Not only does it look smart, it gives an impression of a disciplined group and that makes you feel good'.
But without a doubt his over-riding impression is that Freemasonry is about caring for others and recognises that it is a potent catalyst for relieving suffering and improving the lives of others while developing one’s own character. Some may accuse us of being ardent romantics but in the eyes of this 11 year old we are firmly realists.
We can learn a lot by viewing the world through the eyes of the young, unpolluted by dogma, bigotry, intolerance, and malice. It appears that the eyes of the young see with that clarity of vision that we in Freemasonry aim to restore in ourselves.