Page 31 - Montana Freemason May 2013
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What has happened to the ethics revered and              was "No". Thus Socrates accepted his death sentence,
         generally followed in the past? Mass cheating   even though believing it to be unjust, rather than
and public scandals are the trend today. Worse yet,      violate the law himself. He had made an agreement
despite knowledge of misconduct, violators are not       with the State that he would duly obey its laws, and
turned in. Today, more and more Freemasons are           had not sought to change them. Socrates thus valued
violating the tenets of the Institution of Freemasonry.  his oath and obligations as sacred and, not having
Rules prohibiting gambling and those involving           sought to change the laws of his State, obeyed them.
the use of alcohol are unobserved. Code sections         Can Freemasons do less involving laws that do not
and various time honored regulations are being           endanger their lives, but merely how they manage
misinterpreted or ignored in attempts to increase        them? Can they not be expected to obey their oaths
membership. Lack of respect for the views of others      and obligations and abide by the laws of the Craft,
and like matters disturbing the harmony in Lodges        especially if they have taken no action to change
are becoming more frequent.                              them?

Not too long ago conduct was self-imposed; it            Honor, along with duty, form the bedrock of
       sprang from core beliefs. At one time students           human character. Today, many who see an
signed a paper "pledging one's honor as a gentleman      injustice or are dissatisfied with a status do nothing.
that no assistance was given or received". Agreements    Others betray the right. Toleration of misconduct
used to be made solely by the shaking of hands,          makes the person who tolerates equally guilty of
and a man's word was his bond.
Trust and adherence to Truth was                                              malfeasance. Ethics rules, unlike
the standard of conduct for most                                              most laws, are observed only by
Freemasons. This sense of honor                                               ethical people, who don't need
is largely unobserved and probably                                            them. Honor codes are meaningless
not comprehended by much of our                                               to individuals without a sense of
society nowadays. Freemasons,                                                 honor. Freemasons who breach
however, are supposed to be ethical                                           the Constitution and Ordinances
before they become Freemasons                                                 of their Grand Lodge, or the By-
and, as such, are taught to think and                                         laws of their Lodges, not only
act ethically.                                                                violate their obligations, but are
                                                         individuals without a sense of honor. Those who
Bobby Jones, the noted golfer, who often called          have knowledge of those breaches and do nothing are
      penalties on himself once remarked to one who      likewise guilty of malfeasance. An observation of such
praised him for this and other acts of sportsmanship     inherently immoral action is set forth in the Volume
- "You might as well praise a man for not breaking       of the Sacred Law, "For what is a man profited if he
into banks. There is only one way to play this game      shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?".
and that's by the rules". The principle behind this
simple observation should be self-evident to all right   Freemasonry's only dogma consists of moral
thinking people.                                               principles requiring only common sense to
                                                         understand them. T.R. Fehrenback, an editorial
There are many other instances in history of men         writer, observed that ethics is - Do right if you can;
      with a firm understanding of and adherence         above all do no harm; and if questionable, do not
to ethics. One in particular involves Socrates, the      do it, whatever the law allows. Freemasonry sets a
Greek Philosopher, who, when advised by Crito to         higher standard to always do right. Its ritual includes
escape from prison to avoid his sentence of death,       references to: purity of life and conduct; being good
asked several Questions. He asked - "are we to say       and true; practicing the domestic and public virtues;
that we are never intentionally to do wrong ……. or       squaring our actions by the Square of virtue; and
is doing wrong always evil and dishonorable ……..?".      displaying discretion, virtue and dignity. But even
Crito answered "Yes. He then asked - "Ought a man        the most explicit laws or lists of do's and don'ts or
to do what he admits to be right …..?". Crito again      standards of conduct are futile if those they apply to
answered "Yes". He finally asked - "Do you imagine       lack the basic character toabide by them.
that a state can subsist ………in which the decisions
of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown   Itisnotdifficulttoknowrightfromwrong.Common
by individuals?". The answer Socrates received to this       sense is inherent in most people. Epictetus, when
                                                         asked what common sense was, said - "As thaPtamgea3y1
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