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Online had posted the following article on Masonic Ethics by
M.W.Bro.Jack R Levitt.P.G.M. The article is very relevant to Freemasons
spread over the face of the earth,
presenting a reminder to all
Masons on how the practice of our virtues should compel us and not simply be an
item of speculation. Please read on
has happened to the ethics revered and generally followed in the past? Mass
cheating and public scandals are the trend today. Worse yet, despite knowledge
of misconduct, violators are not turned in. Today, more and more Freemasons are
violating the tenets of the Institution of Freemasonry. Rules prohibiting
gambling and those involving the use of alcohol are unobserved. Code sections
and various time honored regulations are being misinterpreted or ignored in
attempts to increase membership. Lack of respect for the views of others and
like matters disturbing the harmony in Lodges are becoming more frequent.
too long ago conduct was self-imposed; it sprang from core beliefs. At one time
students signed a paper "pledging one's honor as a gentleman that no
assistance was given or received". Agreements used to be made solely by the
shaking of hands, and a man's word was his bond. Trust and adherence to Truth
was the standard of conduct for most Freemasons. This sense of honor is largely
unobserved and probably not comprehended by much of our society nowadays.
Freemasons, however, are supposed to be ethical before they become Freemasons
and, as such, are taught to think and act ethically.
Jones, the noted golfer, who often called penalties on himself once remarked to
one who praised him for this and other acts of sportsmanship - "You might
as well praise a man for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play
this game and that's by the rules". The principle behind this simple
observation should be self-evident to all right thinking people.
are many other instances in history of men with a firm understanding of and
adherence to ethics. One in particular involves Socrates, the Greek Philosopher,
who, when advised by Crito to escape from prison to avoid his sentence of death,
asked several Questions. He asked - "are we to say that we are never
intentionally to do wrong
. or is doing wrong always evil and dishonorable
..?". Crito answered "Yes. He then asked - "Ought a man to
do what he admits to be right
..?". Crito agains answered
"Yes". He finally asked - "Do you imagine that a state can
in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside
and overthrown by individuals?". The answer Socrates received to this was
"No". Thus Socrates accepted his death sentence, even though believing
it to be unjust, rather than violate the law himself. He had made an agreement
with the State that he would duly obey its laws, and had not sought to change
them. Socrates thus valued his oath and obligations as sacred and, not having
sought to change the laws of his State, obeyed them. Can Freemasons do less
involving laws that do not endanger their lives, but merely how they mangage
them? Can they not be expected to obey their oaths and obligations and abide by
the laws of the Craft, especially if they have taken no action to change them?
along with duty, form the bedrock of human character. Today, many who see an
injustice or are dissatisfied with a status do nothing. Others betray the right.
Toleration of misconduct makes the person who tolerates equally guilty of
malfeasance. Ethics rules, unlike most laws, are observed only by ethical
people, who don't need them. Honor codes are meaningless to individuals without
a sense of honor. Freemasons who breach the Constitution and Ordinances of their
Grand Lodge, or the By-laws of their Lodges, not only violate their obligations,
but are individuals without a sense of honor. Those who have knowledge of those
breaches and do nothing are likewise guilty of malfeasance. An observation of
such inherently immoral action is set forth in the Volume of the Sacred Law,
"For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his
own soul ?".
only dogma consists of moral principles requiring only common sense to
understand them. T.R. Fehrenback, an editorial writer, observed that ethics is -
Do right if you can; above all do no harm; and if questionable, do not do it,
whatever the law allows. Freemasonry sets a higher standard to always do right.
Its ritual includes references to: purity of life and conduct; being good and
true; practicing the domestic and public virtues; squaring our actions by the
Square of virtue; and displaying discretion, virtue and dignity. But even the
most explicit laws or lists of do's and don'ts or standards of conduct are
futile if those they apply to lack the basic character to abide by them.
not difficult to know right from wrong. Common sense is inherent in most people.
Epictetus, when asked what common sense was, said - "As that may be called
a common ear which distinguishes only sounds, while that which distinguishes
musical notes is not common but produced by training; so there are certain
things which men not entirely perverted see by the natural principles common to
all, Such a Constitution of the mind is called common sense". Thus,
Freemasons can not only understand the principles of Masonic ethics, but work
them out in life. Determining what is right and exercising common sense should
be the constant rule and guide for each Freemason. Since Freemasons are urged to
live Masonic principles and thus, by precept and example, encourage others to
emulate their actions, they must abide by their obligations and not palliate the
offenses of their brethern. They must realize that the teachings of the Craft
are designed to improve society as well as each member, just as Aristotle knew
that though it is worthwhile to obtain the end merely for one man, it is fine
and more Godlike to attain it for a nation.
membership selective process in our Craft must be always by the requirement set
forth in the first Degree charge - by not recommending any one to a
participation in our privileges without having strong reasons to believe that he
would ultimately reflect honor on our ancient Institution.
this day and age of pleasure derived solely from material gain, Freemasons
should also take pleasure in seeing themselves daily grow better. They must do
as the Emperor Marcus Aurelius suggested - no longer talk about the kind of man
that a good man ought to be, but be such.