Written by R.W. Bro Robert Taylor & amended slightly by V.W. Bro, Norman McEvoy
All through our Masonic journey we receive advice and even stronger instructions on how to prepare ourselves for our journey through life to be worthy of attaining the final goal of perfection.
The specific injunction to keep our passions and prejudices within due bounds is first given whilst, as a candidate, we are still kneeling at the altar after our obligation.
It must be considered important because it is again reinforced in a subsequent degree, albeit in a different manner.
Like so many other ‘words’ that are given to us during our instructions on the various degrees, we find them interesting, but they are not defined. We either know their meaning, or, are expected to ascertain their meaning.
About ‘Passion’ the English dictionary says that it is any strongly felt emotion, ardent, extreme, or intense. ‘Prejudice’ on the other hand is defined as an opinion, usually unfavourable, that is based on inadequate facts, intolerance, dislike, and is usually irrational. There is more but that is enough for us to draw the inferences.
As Freemasons we are meant to be calm, courteous, rational seekers of the truth and all the while endeavouring to extend the circle of our friendships, nurturing old friendships, and making new. You will readily perceive that passions and prejudices are contrary to the gaining of new and the keeping of old friends. Why do we indulge ourselves in these undesirable traits when they are so obviously contrary to the teachings we receive and the needs of our journey through life?
We are humans, and imperfect, even though we are striving for perfection. We have much difficulty in keeping that unruliest member of our body – the tongue – under control and say things that we later regret, but by then it is too late.
As Omar Khayyam wrote, “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half-a-line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”
So why do we indulge ourselves in these weaknesses when we know in our heart that we should not?
We indulge ourselves in them because of wanting to be better than someone else – so we put them down; to repay someone for a slight, real or perceived; we resent other peoples good fortune and rail at the lack of our own.
Unfortunately some prejudices are long standing and ingrained from birth and these are usually of a racial or religious nature. This is where Masonry has its greatest effect and benefit, but, whilst being a noble force for brotherly love, it is sadly, not a magic wand.
Recently our Grand Lodge, in an effort to improve our Masonic accommodation for future generations, outlined the requirements and suggested a list of Masonic Centres that need to be closed as they are deemed inadequate for future Freemasons.
Passions were aroused in many breasts and much said that is regrettable.
There is no doubt that many brethren have worked long and hard to acquire and keep their Masonic Centres. They bitterly resent interference and the upheaval to their structured world. We each of us have our ‘comfort zone’ and feel uncomfortable when dragged, pushed, or pulled out of that comfort zone.
However, if we step back from our possessive or materialistic approach to retaining what we have, and remember where we came from – meeting in empty rooms in pubs – we should realise that Freemasonry is a system of personal training and development and can be performed anywhere. Bearing all that in mind, the long term benefits to the Craft of upgrading Masonic Centres to a higher standard should help us to remain calm and discuss what needs to be done calmly and rationally.
Not all Freemasons love one another as they should. I have seen and heard enough examples of ill-feeling to be disappointed, but not down-hearted. One can offer friendship and wise counsel to try and smooth troubled waters and ruffled feathers. I have even suggested to some that they re-read the obligation of a Master Mason to try to renew the feeling of ownership and the sense of obligation to all other brethren, which goes with it.
On the occasion of my third degree I received a disappointment when neither of my sponsors attended, but this was lessened in the south when a wise and experienced Mason told me that Masonry will never disappoint me, but that, from time to time, men will – and he was right.
So what do we do to calm our passions and lessen our prejudices?
We can try to live our lives by the teachings of Freemasonry – to love one another – and remember that all men are interesting if you take the time to listen to them, that every man has some knowledge, some experience, some quality that you do not have, so accept him as a brother and learn from him, and in due course grow to love one another, as true Masons.
When I read this paper for the first time, I realized that I was guilty of expressing some of my views in writing & suffered, misunderstanding, from both parties, (Bad Mistake) . I am now very aware as to how (As brother to brother) we have the opportunity to sit down together and quietly listen one to the other.
Have a Wonderful Day & God Bless