The Square

The Symbols of Freemasonry

The Square

Time and custom, location and ideas, alter conceptions of the moral law for some acts and thoughts, yet certain "squares of virtue" are the same for all mankind. No matter where we live, or of what race we are, no matter what religion we profess or to what country we belong, it is the opposite of virtuous to steal, to bear false witness, to murder, to betray one's country. But Freemasonry is not concerned with the major crimes when she bids an initiate obey the moral law; if she supposed a man was a potential thief, murderer, liar or traitor, she would never admit him to her ranks. It is the moral law but partly expressed, or unexpressed, in the written law, to which she refers.

As the operative mason had each his individual square, so have we, each of us, our own individual square of virtue. But the operative masons must of necessity have had squares which were alike in their "squareness." If their squares differed, then their stones would not be alike and the wall they made would not be plumb and level.

It is not difficult to believe that operative masons might well have been allowed some latitude as to the size of their squares, of the materials out of which they were made. Some might prefer a square with one long and one short side; others might want them with sides of equal length. Some might do better work with squares of steel, while yet others preferred squares of wood. But it is not thinkable that they were allowed any latitude in the angle of their squares; all had to be ninety degrees.

With speculative Masons, the kind of square we use as the square of virtue will be dictated by what manner of men we are. And as there is room for an honest difference of opinion regarding many things, there is room for differing squares of virtue. "In the most friendly manner remind him of his faults" does not mean that we are to judge our neighbor, who builds with a square of steel, because we prefer to build with a square of wood. But when he builds with a square which is out of true, then it is time for us to "whisper good counsel in his ear.”

The moral law, then, to which Masons must conform, must be considered to be that general body of public opinion, as recognized by us all; it is by this that we must try our squares of virtue. If our individual tools conform to this standard, then we may use them fearlessly, and have them of such size of mental material as our education and our powers of thinking permit.

-“Foreign Countries”, by Carl Claudy

 

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