Justice


Date: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 2:08 AM

                             JUSTICE
           by J.J. Miller, Lodge Southern Cross No. 44

     "Every wrong done by one man to another, whether it affect his
person, his property, his happiness or his reputation, is an
offence against the law of Justice. Freemasonry, by its teachings,
endeavors to restrain men from the commission of injustice and acts
of wrong." So wrote Albert Pike.

     Justice, throughout Masonic teachings, is inculcated as a
cardinal virtue. A Freemason should be one "whose head is guided by
justice." In all constitutions the desire to extend Justice to an
erring brother is most pronounced. The machinery provided to secure
Justice is most elaborate, being equal to that of a court of civil
justice, even to an appeal to the High Court, which is Grand Lodge.
The whole construction of Masonic law is aimed to maintain the
divine principle of Justice. If, therefore, these teachings, so
beautifully portrayed in some degrees, are imbibed and followed, a
Freemason can do no unjust act; he is conscientiously bound to
judge the causes of all persons uprightly and impartially,
divesting himself of all personal prejudice.

     Recognising fully the injunction, "Whatsoever judgement ye
measure unto others, the same shall in turn be measured unto you,"
I cannot help but risk saying that I have frequently charged
brethren with the violation of this cardinal Masonic principle.

     More than a quarter of a century ago there were two editors
running in competition in a country town in the United States. One
was a Craftsman. The other applied for admission to our Order, was
accepted and initiated. The older editor objected to any further
advancement. How he made his objection stick, history does not
relate. However, 25 long years went past, and in all that time, the
initiate of whom I am writing never say the inside of a lodge-room.
But he advanced in other ways. He became prosperous; his newspaper
grew to be a power in the land; he was chosen for many high offices
by his fellow citizens; ultimately the highest honour in the gift
of the people was bestowed upon him - that of President of the
United States of America. Shortly afterwards, the other editor was
summoned to the Grand Lodge Above, there to give an account of his
life before the All Wise and All Powerful Judge. The way was now
clear for Warren Harding to complete his degrees and get his Master
Mason's apron, which, notwithstanding the responsibilities
connected with his high office as head of the American Republic, he
found time to do - and also to advance in the associate orders of
Freemasonry. His last address on earth was made to his fellow
Knight Templars in California. Unable to be present himself, his
secretary read his manuscript, the address being buttressed with
Christian principles upon which the Templar Order is founded. 

     When we realise the type of man that Warren Harding was, his
high ideals of manhood and citizenship and his purity of soul, we
must come to the conclusion that justice unasserted robbed him of
25 years of internal fellowship, and the Craft of the services of
one who would have been a tower of strength to the Fraternity.

     The great principle of Justice is too often thrust aside by
the overpowering influence of prejudice, personal animosity, hatred
and other forms of human frailty. Pity that it should be so in the
Masonic Fraternity! The outside world should be made to feel
confident that when a man is said to be a Mason "he is one whose
head is guided by Justice." Every Mason who sits in a lodge and
adjudicates on the petition of one of the outside world is a juror,
and, as a Masonic juror, he should approach his responsibility with
the utmost gravity. A warped decision, or a decision influenced
perhaps by another's prejudice, may pervert the ends of Justice and
bring pain and sorrow to hearts that are clean and good.

     But what shall be said of those Masons who sit in judgement on
their fellow Craftsman and deny them the privileges of advancement
which they themselves enjoy? The Fraternity has ordained that the
utmost care must be exercised in scrutinising the petition of one
of the outside world, and that every juror present must vote for
the petitioner before he can be admitted. But when once admitted he
is a fellow whose well-being and interests become the care of every
Craftsman. He is not to be injured by his fellows, and no one else
is to be permitted to injure him, if it is in the power of a
Craftsman to prevent it. Justice stands naked and ashamed when
injury is done to the noble-minded, earnest Craftsman by a
rejection of his petition for further Light in Masonry.

     The question arises, should the power be taken out of the
hands of the very small minority of brethren who exercise their
power without any recognition of the virtue of Justice?
Objectionable subterfuges have been resorted to in order to
circumvent the wrong doer. But there should be no subterfuge in
Freemasonry; it must be clear and above board. If all brethren were
to make up their minds to rise above their picayune and imaginary
grievances, there would be no occasion to discuss this question
which grieves the hearts of many today. No one will advocate a
change in the time-honoured Masonic custom of unanimous election of
one of the outside world. Injustice may be done occasionally, but,
in the main, the system of unanimous election has proved throughout
time to be the best system for the Craft. The system of election
for the advancement of brethren is, however, open to improvement,
as a safeguard against the erratic operations of prejudiced minds
unimpressed with the principles of Justice and Brotherly Love.

     I began with a quotation from that great Masonic scholar,
Albert Pike. I will conclude with another:

     "Those who are invested with the power of judgement should
judge the causes of all persons uprightly and impartially, without
any personal consideration of the power of the mighty, the bribe of
the rich or the needs of the poor. That is a cardinal rule. But
they must do more. They must divest themselves of prejudice and
preconception."
-reprinted from The Square, March 1924