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The Right to Agree to Disagree

The Right to Agree to Disagree  (Sept 2010)

For some time I have been grappling with the interpretation, and action taken, by fellow Brethren regarding the “Apron Charge” given in the Entered Apprentice Degree, which, in my ritual book, reads as follow:-

“Let me add to the observations of the Senior Warden., that you are never to put on that badge should you be about to visit a Lodge in which there is a brother with whom you are at variance, or against whom you entertain animosity; in such cases it is expected that you will invite him to withdraw, in order amicably settle your differences, which having been happily effected, you may then clothe yourselves, enter the Lodge, and work with that love and harmony which should at all times characterize Freemasons.

But, if unfortunately, be of such a nature as to be not easily adjusted, it were better that one or both of you retire, than that the harmony of the Lodge should be disturbed by your presence”

In attempting to come to grips with the impact of the “Charge” quoted, I have searched my Masonic library & resources available to me and cannot find anything wherein this subject is discussed.

This is possibly because it is a truly sensitive issue and subject to personal interpretation, however, I do believe that this is a subject that needs airing and have decided to give that a try.

The first word that caught my attention is “Variance” which “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary” defines as “The fact or state of being in disagreement”.

The next word to catch my eye is “Animosity” defined as “ ill will or resentment tending toward active hostility”.

This now seems to make it all very clear. If a Brother has said or done something that you are not in agreement with, don’t go to Lodge, because he might be there.

But is that really what this is all about, and if so, does it apply to us as brothers and Freemasons?????

Now let me go to the Senior Wardens Charge in the Fellowcraft Degree which, in part, states the following:

“You are not to palliate or aggravate the offences of your Brethren; but in the decision of every trespass against our rules; judge with candor; admonish with friendship and reprehend with mercy”

The words that catch my attention are as follows:

Palliate defined as “to cloak or conceal”

Candor defined as “freedom from prejudice or malice. Unreserved, honest or sincere expression

Aggravate defined as “to make worse, more serious or more severe”

Admonish defined as to express warning or disapproval in a gentle earnest manner” OR “to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement”

Reprehend defined as “to voice disapproval”

It seems the more I read and re-read these “Charges” the more I come to appreciate what “Freemasonry” is attempting to teach us, which in my opinion, is that it is NOT necessary that we all agree (how boring that would be) but that we respect each others views and our right to “agree to disagree”

The annals of Freemasonry are chock full of situations where we know Brethren of all Faiths & Political views were able to come together as “Freemasons” and in many cases not only changed the course of history but proved that the “Universality of Man” is more than just a dream.