IN a recent conversation, I was talking with a fellow Freemason from another Order about hate. He was telling me about how one of his members, of a fairly high degree, harbored deep resentment toward another of his members. In an organization built upon discipline and education, this seems uncharacteristic. After all that we’re learning as Freemasons about holding our brethren in high regard and affording them every “kind office,” how can anyone be angry at another Brother for any length of time? It seems irresponsible.
Then it struck me, equally as deeply, that the more you stay on this path of Freemasonry, you do not have the luxury of anger or hatred, nor the privilege of animosity or of fear of any kind. You learn that the divisions of people, of whatever kind they might be, are meaningless and unnecessary, and that we Freemasons are dedicated to the eradication of division and strife. Our personal quarrels and piques do not matter one whit to our work as Freemasons.
So, why does anger at another Brother happen? We learn from our earliest steps in the Craft that personal issues should be taken care of outside of the meeting, so that the order and harmony of the Lodge is not disturbed by this quarrel.
This is the first step in solving our issues, and this process can be very different than how the rest of humanity deals with things. “Normal” people resort to gossip, back-stabbing, shunning, yelling, or out-and-out violence. A Freemason stands apart, or should. We know better. A Freemason’s instructions are clear: Figure it out between you, get over your issues, and come together. Now.
THIS direction never changes and in fact, grows. Not only must you not be at odds with other members but you must not be at odds with the Lodge decisions, the head of your Lodge, your District, or your overall Order. Still further on the path, you are a representative of a higher calling, your Mystery School as it were. You represent a path of taking the higher road; eventually, in order to promote the welfare of humanity and Freemasonry as a whole, you cannot afford to be wrapped up in self-obsessed emotion; otherwise, the Great Work can never happen.
You may disagree with a decision and work toward orderly change but you do not have the luxury of having anger. You can fight to right a wrong, fight for the oppressed, or strive for change. You just can’t foment hate or anger. The base nature of this emotion has no place in Freemasonry.
And so, it comes round that the Brother who cannot transcend their anger will be swallowed up by it, and another good person will slowly sink into their lower nature. It is a simple step to realize that it is hubris to harbor resentment, and humility to let it go. I say simple but in fact, the act is about letting go of our deeply ingrained behavior and learning a new way of being. It takes practice. As Freemasons, we wake to a higher calling: it is on us to remain awake and never sleep.
[Featured Image: “Fallen Angel” by Alexandre Cabanel (1868)]