True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Sunday, September 16, 2007

To Shed A Tear Of Sympathy For The Failings Of A Brother

To Shed A Tear Of Sympathy For The Failings Of A Brother
In my last blog entry on Stephen’s Law of Un-Masonic Analogies I received a comment, , that really struck me.

My tagline: “It’s not about me changing them; it’s about me changing me.” defines for me the overall effect of Freemasonry on my life. The title “To Shed a Tear of Sympathy for the Failings of a Brother” defines to me, what brotherly love is all about. Thanks to Br. Allan Roll, I now have an excellent one-line description of what brotherly love should be.

There is a tendency in Freemasonry that limits how we should define brotherly love. In using the word limit, I do not mean that we do not extend the love and concern due our brothers, far from it; my experience has been that on the whole, we extend brotherly love in all cases, at least we think we do...

My concern is when we misunderstand what brotherly love is, what it calls for, and the nature in which it is intended. Many of our detractors claim that we: will cover the crimes of our brothers, that as law enforcement agents, we would turn a blind eye, and that as justices, we would allow a brother to “skate” through without proper penalties as part of our obligation or code.

Now, we know this is not true. FOR THE MOST PART. The fact is, many of us have escaped a ticket because the officer turns out to be a one of us. Conversely, we have been harassed by officers who are not, men who are opposed to Freemasonry, so I say; on the whole, it all evens out. At least I hope so.

I have never heard of a brother winning on a court case because he and the judge were both Masons; however that does not mean it can’t or doesn’t happen. Conversely, I have heard of a judge rescuing himself from a case upon recognizing a brother as the prosecutor, defense attorney or defendant.

My issue today is with the excess of brotherly love, often misplaced. Take a moment and think about that… an excess of misplaced brotherly love. What can that do to us?

99.99% of those in our fraternity are good, honorable, upright men, upon whom we can place our unquestioning faith. However, understanding that, we all know or have heard about the one in a thousand who somehow sneak past, or walk through an open or unguarded west gate despite our best efforts.

The brother of whom I speak, will lie, cheat, steal. One whose ethics, are at best, questionable. The man, the Brother upon whom we can place no trust. Yet, he is still a Mason, and a Brother.

The “Good” Mason focuses on that part of our obligation which tells us not to cheat, wrong, defraud nor injure a brother in his person or good name… even if he like the one above goes through life doing those very things to our fellows, using his position as a Mason for self enrichment, power grabs, or running some kind of shady business that sails close to the line of ethics. We shy away from getting into the judgment business, and rightfully so, and, in the name of brotherly love we, turn a blind eye to his less than honorable antics.

We may make excuses for him, we may cover his Masonic crimes by the simple expedience of not calling him out on them, but isn’t it part of our obligation to whisper good counsel in a brothers ear, in a most friendly manner, to seek, try, to bring about a reformation? If, the “Good” Mason’s, the majority, turn our back to that obligation to him, and instead, ignore it, becoming guilty ourselves of not doing our duty… and by extension, not trying to correct his way’s, do we not ourselves, become complicit in these very actions, and even guilty of them?

By doing nothing, we are guilty on two levels. First is not keeping our obligation to the brother, or to the fraternity. By countenancing these errors, we injure the fraternity. Second, and just as bad, if we, as “Good” men, do nothing to stop a wrong when we can, we become guilty by extension of that wrong by becoming a co-conspirator.

There is also an additional pitfall we must all avoid; becoming self righteous. While it is our duty to our brothers to correct them when they err, it is also our duty to show compassion, temperance and prudent justice. This does not mean denouncing the brother, but it does mean acting charitably, lovingly toward him in all your actions to show him the better path.

Ah, the sweet obligation of charity. In this case, it is charitable to assume the situation is not what it appears, and to whisper good counsel in a brother’s ear, privately, quietly, friendly. Not to be accusatory, but to seek to aid and assist if there is a problem or a misunderstanding.

As a fraternity, as brothers, it is our duty to correct our peers, but we should also examine ourselves. We should always perform a sanity check and weigh our own hearts before approaching a brother so that when we do approach, we are not auctorial.. We must feel love for our brothers, and live as Hillel recommended:

“Do not to another that which you would find hateful yourself in a similar circumstance. This is the whole of the law. The rest is commentary.”
To be a true Mason, brother, you must shed a tear of sympathy for the failings of a brother, and keep your obligation to show him sympathy, and council.

Thanks to Marcus Hawley for editing and proofing my entry.


Anonymous said...

The problem here is that the "American Way" is NOT that of the UK or other nations, Masonically or otherwise. For a start in many USA Lodges Alcohol is not served or consumed and indeed some GLs would ban an aspiring Candidate if they were in the Liquor Trade, a relic of Prohibition and I am glad to say NOT the case here in the UK where many in the Pub and Liquor Trade are Worthy Masons indeed! Likewise so-called "Porn" as in the UK we have more liberal attitudes and many of our Brethren run Newsagents and similar Stores which sell such magazines, videos,DVDs etc of the type which are legally available in this country. Should these people too be barred from our Lodges? I think not!

I feel that you are in danger of seeking to cast the mote from your Brother's Eye and should instead deal with the beam in your own.

As far as I am concerned, if a Brother does not break the Laws of the Land nor the Rules of my Masonic Obedience then it is not for me to judge them. "Judge ye not that ye be not judged"

Anonymous said...

Wor. Dunn,

Again, an excellent point. As an observer of human behavior, I have noticed that the vast majority of people are not emotionally equipped, nor properly instructed, in the social graces of interactions with each other. People are raised to think that any discussion of opposing viewpoints or values is an attack; indeed, most people do not know how to approach another person in such a situation. There is a distinct difference between assertion and aggression; the lines of which have become blurred in our society.
Galen Dean
SW, Fellowship Lodge #669
Yucaipa, Ca

Anonymous said...

Indeed, very nice Bro Theron!

Just at our last meeting we have had a Brother, (and and OB), suspended from the Lodge for 12 months.... I understand exactly your sentiments!

Theron Dunn said...

Thank you brothers! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

go to

pfunk said...

how is unmasonic conduct determined, who is the source of what is considered masonic and based on what premise. when we speak of Brothers does this pertain to irregular Masons, or clandestine Masons or purely bogus masons? Un-masonic conduct is subjective in its literal sense. if a Grand lodge pops up over night are they Brothers who should be subject to the unmasonic conduct.

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