Short Talk, October 12, 2019
Brother Alan Gatlin, Lodge Historian
One of the recurring topics seen in society, through the news, social media, and life experience is the apparent increased occurrences of anger and the associated behaviors that follow. As Men and Masons, we are called to be different and present an image that not only affects our lives but impacts the lives of others. If we view the emotion of anger as a passionate response that evolves into hate given the situation or events in life, we are faced with how best to address this cycle that only has a destructive outcome. With Masonry we are presented with a model that can help us in being a “better man” that we all seek and are admonished to become.
First, it is important to understand that anger is often first expressed as an emotional response to an event, individual, or situation. As an isolated occurrence that emotion is not, by its nature uniquely destructive if it becomes a catalyst of change. Seeing an injustice that we then address; it can be said that we are motivated to that change by the strong feelings experienced. However, the turn comes when the emotion becomes a response that is more directed to an individual or people than an internal element for us to act to correct. Seeing a mistreatment of a person or people can lead us to action or become a reaction to prejudice that becomes an automatic response. We are not only called to be different but to indeed be different, overcoming these cultural and often deep-seeded responses that occur without thought.
How do we then “change” when we come to the realization that a behavior or action is not what we see as consistent with our Masonic virtues? Let us then re-examine the 1st Degree for an approach and insight that we can use.
Pillars are an important part of Masonic traditions and represent not only columns adorned within Greek and Roman traditions that supply structural support to buildings but also represent Masonic ideals inculcated in the positions of the Junior (JW) and Senior Wardens (SW) along with the Master of the Lodge. Each of these “pillars” represent ideals and values that can give us guidance as to our actions and behaviors. When the candidate is first presented to each pillar a question is asked the question “Who Comes Here”? The response is of one who desires change “A poor, blind candidate who desires to move from Darkness to Light…” gives us the clue we need. What attribute is represented by the Junior Warden?
The JW is associated with Beauty and the planet Mercury, the great communicator. One can compare their actions and feeling against this standard, beauty. Are you bringing Beauty to the world in your feelings and actions? If not, the opposite is also being communicated to those around you and is a call to change.
The SW is associated with Strength and the Moon. While the moon is often represented as feminine in characteristic, the strength of emotion is undeniable and must be appropriately channeled. What message are you communicating with your emotions? Is this the way you want to feel and be? If not then it is time to re-assess your actions to change your behavior which in turn, will change your feelings!
The Master of the Lodge is Wisdom and associated with the Sun. While he “reflects” the Light from the Volume of the Sacred Law, he stands as an example of our best actions and deeds. How do our actions and feelings “appear” before the cleansing and healing element of Light? This is the final call to action and change. We have the Volume of the Sacred Law to guide us and light the path at our feet in association with the beauty and strength to move forward.
While we began this short lecture with a focus on anger, any strong emotion and resulting behavior is available for us to use this approach to making the changes in our lives to become better men and Masons. Be vigilant and look with an objective eye to our actions, deeds, and words to ourselves and others. Change and improvement is up to each of us as we move through this life.
Why is the study of our symbology important? Unless our candidates and we ourselves find value in our “work” we will not be relevant in today’s society and we will become unable to affect change. This is an issue that Pike discussed and continues to be relevant today. Let us strive together to explore our symbology and press for the higher good that we can be for ourselves and others.