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Honor to the Fraternity
by Ed Halpaus
"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." President Calvin Coolidge
"Honor is the inner garment of the Soul; the first thing put on by it with the flesh, and the last it layeth down at its separation from it." Akhenaton, (Egyptian King, Monotheist)
"I've got an attitude of gratitude for each new day!" Richard Mekdeci
Honor to the Fraternity
I was asked if I had written about Honor and Freemasonry; I hadn't. Reference material on Honor in Masonic books is not plentiful, but the Holy Bible and other books on religion and bible commentaries are great resources. Remembering what Masons are told regarding the Masonic apron is important; it is hoped we will wear it with equal pleasure to ourselves and honor to the fraternity.
"Honor," we know it when we see it; it's demonstrated in the degrees and lectures, and it is the lesson of many of the allegories of Freemasonry.
While we know honor when we see it we might not always understand it and its importance. The study of what it is, and its importance, in a Mason's quest to better his self for the learning, is a worthwhile endeavor.
Respecting, and being respected, is to show and receive honor. Hard feelings and anger result when there is a lack of respect: To avoid these things a person could think before reacting by reflecting on the questions; 'What would I actually gain if this person shows me respect or approval? And what do I really lose by his insulting me?" the answer to those question is critical to know; "Nothing!" 'Honor and humiliation are very temporary.'[i]
While they rarely make any real or practical differences in our lives we, as honorable men and Masons, should try our best to show honor to the people we interact with; there is no need to add to the possible stress of others by not demonstrating respect. Similarly if we are not given the respect we would like, we could ask ourselves, as Rabbi Pliskin suggests; 'what would I gain if this person had shown me respect or approval? And, what do I lose by not receiving it?' The answer is: Nothing! While honor is nice to receive it, like a lack of respect, is temporary. "Someone who internalizes the truth of this concept will never feel sad about lack of honor or approval."[ii]
When we delve into the moral philosophy of our Craft we find the basis of it lies in the Great Light of Masonry: The Holy Bible is said to be 'the rule and guide of faith.' It is from the scriptures of the Holy Bible that all the degrees of Masonry proceed: In the Rites as well as in the Blue Lodge.
Researching the subject of 'honor' naturally will lead to the Great Light of Masonry and other resources that are related to the religious teaching of the bible, and commentaries by learned individuals.[iii]
Dr. Wayne Dyer has said that some people are always looking for ways to be offended; his advice is don't look for reasons to be offended. Many times a person feels offended because he or she is not treated with what is deemed as proper respect.[iv]
Who is an honorable person? The commentaries in the Talmud[v] say he is the one who shows honor and respect to others. Honor and respect does not depend on how others treat us, but rather on how we treat others; the more respect and honor we show to others the more honorable we are becoming. That is important to the Freemason as well as Freemasonry: How we treat others, both within and without the Craft, determines whether we wear our apron with honor to the fraternity. Wearing our Apron with honor doesn't cease as we exit the lodge room to go about the rest of our lives.
Sometimes when people are treated with disrespect they respond with anger, but the thinking Mason will instead respond with dignity. The Mason who understands the truth that honor and disrespect is fleeting will know the valuelessness of these things: "The greater your own realization that you have intrinsic worth, since you are created in the image of the Almighty, the less the slights of mortals will affect you."[vi]
Freemasonry, through the importance of the Great Light of Masonry to the Craft, stresses the value of wisdom. When we think of King Solomon it's natural to think of his wisdom. A quick look in a concordance of the Holy Bible will yield hundreds of scriptures on all the forms of the word 'wise' from 'wisdom' to 'wiser.'
"Most people do not feel bad because they lack wisdom; they feel bad because people say they lack wisdom."[vii] A person who continually seeks honor, (an honor-seeker,) doesn't study wisdom to become wiser, but to demonstrate how wise he is. Proverbs 18:2 says, [JPS translation] "The fool does not desire understanding, but only to air his thoughts." This is contrasted to the truly wise person who has, instead, the goal to gaining wisdom whether of not he gains honor.[viii]
"A person who is able to forego honor is able to focus on truth. His only thought is to do the right thing, and he is willing to sacrifice his honor for his principles. Such a person will eventually receive honor, for he will constantly work on improving himself."
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
From the Great light of Masonry = "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor." Proverbs 21:21 NIV
[i] Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
[iii] Rabbi Zelig Pliskin; he has written many books, which are available at www.artscroll.com some of his thoughts from his books are on-line at http://www.aish.com/spirituality/dailylift/default.asp Much of the information in this paper is from what I have learned from his writing.
[iv] Specific details as to what constitutes a lack of respect are not important. The perception is.
[v] Pirkei Avos 4:1
[vi] Rabbi Pliskin
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Last modified: March 22, 2014