As per our code and rituals, a speculative Mason is expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Freemasons should comport themselves bearing in mind a sincere interest in others, just as we look out for our own interests. Masons should maintain a zeal and energy to build the Fraternity as a whole rather than individuals; this is the concept of the classic ethical theory of utilitarianism, which emphasizes the good for the totality of human beings above and beyond mere self-interest. The first lesson we learn in our Ritual is about truth, which is the basis of our friendship and the foundation of every virtue. A strict adherence to those principles will ensure that we will be respected wherever we may be, whether in the profane world or amongst ourselves in the “Mystic Tie.” As Albert Pike writes:
Masonry is not made for cold souls and narrow minds that do not comprehend its lofty mission and sublime apostolate. Here the anathema against lukewarm souls applies. To comfort misfortune, to popularize knowledge, to teach whatever is true and pure in religion and philosophy, to accustom men to respect order and the proprieties of life, to point out the way to genuine happiness, to prepare for that fortunate period, when all the factions of the Human Family, united by the bonds of Toleration and Fraternity, shall be but one household—these are labors that may well excite zeal and even enthusiasm.
-- Morals and Dogma, 8th Degree, “Intendant of the Building”
Due to our personal weaknesses and human imperfections, we are often and unavoidably prone to commit errors in judgment due to ignorance and lack of knowledge. Addressing such lapses in character, the Fifteenth to Eighteenth Degrees in the Rose Croix Chapter of the Scottish Rite teach “war against ignorance, intolerance and error, and that the chief stumbling block in the way to success is the indifference of its members and the world; every noble heart is God’s temple, and we should labor to establish the reign of love and peace, thus building a lasting temple of God.” Scripture posits this very thought as St. Paul reminds us: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God…?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
In case of conflicts, due to divergence of opinions, civility should be practiced, and a Mason should acknowledge his shortcomings and avoid distorting or altering the facts. Remember, my Brethren, that we have joined the Fraternity with the concept of building friendship rather than generating animosity. It puzzles me how a Brother could hold a grudge against another and still go to the Lodge without first resolving or trying to resolve the issue. Please bear in mind that part of our commitment as Masons is a bond of friendship and at the very least the cessation of hostilities towards others within the Fraternity. Our enemy in most controversies is our own ego, which we ofttimes fail to subdue as we have promised upon taking the oath to improve ourselves, and thereby improve others.
This third leg of the Triple E, Ethics, should be instilled in the mind of serious Masons and uplift our standards, that we may be very proud of who we are! Then will the world at large be desirous of becoming a part of our distinguished society of Freemasons, or at the very least urged on to follow our example in creating a better, more humane world.
Sincerely and fraternally,
Charbel T. Fahed
Grand Master of Masons
Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia