MORAL AND ETHICAL CHALLENGES FOR FREEMASONRY IN THE

21st CENTURY

By Bro. Clive Herron

Marine Lodge No. 627 I.C.

Amongst the many conflicting remedies, theories, ideals expanded upon by a collection of intellectuals and in the media.  We must ask.-what is the true cure for the social complexities that are causing deep misunderstanding and create confusion and chaos in the world.? Why in this time of technological enlightenment are so many turning away from what was known as “the straight and narrow”

VALUES, ETHICS, Morals. Are these just buzzwords. What do they mean?  Why are they important?. How do they affect our society?

A shocking set of statistics I read recently quoted;

EVERY DAY IN THE UNITED STATES

      ·        4,219 teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases (1 every 20 seconds)

·        2,329teenagers unintentionally become pregnant

·        908 teenagers who did not intend becoming pregnant obtain abortions

·        1,000 adolescents begin drinking alcohol

·        500 adolescents begin using drugs

 Theses statistics are alarming and may apply to the United States of America but the problems are universal and are present here in South Africa in differing but equally shocking numbers.

 Young people need to be raised in environment that sets moral an ethical standards, beginning with the family. It is necessary from an early age to learn and observe good examples. It is not OK to cheat in an exam in order to obtain a higher grade. Young people learn by example but how can they when their peers behave the opposite

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE A DEED IS RIGHT WHILE OTHERS THINK IT WRONG? People are claiming constitutional rights that are at times diametrically opposite to moral rights For the sake of maintaining the political high ground they are being granted. Consider the legalising of Prostitution, Dagga, Abortion on demand

      ·        Is cheating on your Income Tax  OK as long as you don’t get caught

·        Is driving my car while over the Alcohol limit  OK – don’t get caught

·        Is exceed the speed limit  OK – knowing that speed kills

·        Is to misrepresent in order to secure an advantage  OK

 You may think these seem like small issues but being ethical does not have a measure. You either ARE or ARE NOT. It is a complete form.

 It can be argued that circumstances can alter a case. The Judgement of good or bad is based upon the consequence of the act rather than the act itself. AN ACTION CAN BE RIGHT IF IT TENDS TO PRODUCE THE GREATEST GOOD FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER OR IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.

·        War is wrong but it can also be right

·        Taking drugs is wrong but it can also be right

 Freemasonry provides us with moral lessons, which if applied to our everyday lives assist us to live ethically and morally. These lessons are so important that they are worth going over here today. Let us examine these.

THE VOLUME OF THE SACRED LAW

 

CHRISTIAN:

" Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them"   (Mathew 7:12)

 

 

JUDAISM:

"Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself".  (Leviticus 19:18)

 

 

ISLAM:

 "No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself:'

 

 

HINDUISM:

"Good men proceed while considering that what is best for others is best for themselves".   (Hitopadesa)

 

THE LEGEND OF HIRAM ABIF

 It may be a mistake to accept this as history, but to understand it’s meaning should be a prized possession for all MASTER MASONS.

Hiram Abif is a symbol of the human soul. The work he was engaged upon we do when we supervise, organise and direct our lives from birth to death.

The enemies he met are symbols of lusts and passions, (ethics and morals) which make war on our characters. The manner in which he was raised from the dead level to a perpendicular is the way by which any man rises from low esteem, poor values and self-defeat to once again become moral. The temple in which Hiram was involved is a symbol of man’s character and therefore, breaks and falls when the soul, it’s architect, is helpless. Hiram was a moral man possessing a high standard of ethics. He laid down his life rather than betray the given word, which symbolises not giving into immorality. This maybe a harsh story but an excellent illustration of character that we should endeavour to emulate. Defending morality and living ethically is not easy but is certainly rewarding.

The Working Tools

To some these may be the simple and basic object which the operative mason used in order to perform his tasks. He on the other hand placed great value in them and must have taken great care of his tools. They were used  in order that the work he was undertaking could be done with precision and the building in which he was engaged could be completed with beauty. For the operative mason a full set of tools must have been his prized possession, it enabled him to earn his living, thereby standing out a a respectable member of his community. It probably reflected a collection that he had assembled since starting his apprenticeship. The operative mason was able through his knowledge in the use of these tools to impart this to apprentices and new fellow craft. Those who were not masons were able to witness in awe his skills and creations. The legacy he left behind stood out as a monument as he moved on to his next job.

 

For the speculative mason not involved in the “hands on” task of building structures, but rather characters these same tools have a meaning and if used properly will leave behind a well structured legacy that whilst not material others will be able to observe. The tools on their own are incapable of anything unless used correctly and wisely passing on the knowledge and experiences we have gained along the way.

 

What  do we learn from the working tools?

 

The twenty-four inch gauge and the common gavel.   One tool (gauge) is used passively and the other (gavel) is used actively.  One is a tool of measurement and calculation, while the other is one of force.  One tool decides what to keep, while the other gets rid of the rest  Passively we are to go about our lives with compassion and love whilst actively and aggressively stamping out that which is evil and immoral

 

Another moral lesson is also taught by the Plumb Line.

 

Builders depend upon the plumb line to erect perpendiculars -  buildings straight and true and upright. From the use of the plumb line, we get such words as rectitude, just, true, rightness, straightness, integrity, honesty, and many others.

The plumb line is our instrument of testing. We are continually being judged by The Creator’s plumb line. As Masons our Morality and ethics are under constant scruitiny. As a good builder we should constantly check our own integrity.

The trowel is the tool with we spread the cement of brotherly love. 

Brotherly love has its source and seat in the soul. To love a man above his sins, to cherish him in spite of his faults, to forgive him in all sincerity is possible only if we our selves are living a true Masonic life, our souls purged of all selfishness. It is our obligation as a good citizen to uplift those confronted by  modern day afflictions and to council them in a spirit of brotherly love.

In the eighteenth century Freemasonry was a radical movement, often standing out against the abuses of power on the part of the Establishment. Its development and growth were a vital part of the Age of Enlightenment. It was for many a route to knowledge denied to them by an oppressive religious or political system.

What has changed today Freemasonry needs to be equally as vociferous and demonstrative in fighting the ills that we face in the 21st century. Problems that are brought upon us by mankind itself.

·        Drugs are bringing down our youth

·        Alcohol and gambling are destroying family life

·        Pornography is destroying our moral fibre

·        HIV and AIDS are destroying our future

·        Oppression and slavery is still present

·        Poverty exists

Let me remind you of the charge made to you at your initiation as a Master Mason.

You are to inculcate universal benevolence, and, by the propriety of your own behaviour, to afford the best example for the conduct of others……… let no motive therefore  make you swerve from your voluntary obligations.

As Freemasons we need to be at the forefront of the fight for we are charged to be GOOD CITIZENS it is our obligation.

Evil exists when good men do nothing

 "We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies -- it is the first law of nature."
                                                 
-- Voltaire

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things

 (Philippians 4:8).

20 May 2005