From the Wise Master (May 2019)

posted May 7, 2019, 7:18 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 7, 2019, 7:21 PM ]

Good Will, is not something we hear very often these days. Good Will is not only very important for relationships in our marriages and within our fraternal organization but also so important for a healthy and a well govern society.

How does Good Will apply to our Fraternal Brotherhood, our Marriages and our relationships, as Freemasons?

For many years, researchers have pondered the great social dilemma of failed marriages and broken homes. There have been many theories on the root causes. Researchers observing couples as they react to one another, have been able to reach a consensus that was profoundly simple. The consensus was that many marriages fail due to one, single, fundamental mind set; lack of Good Will. After that Researchers were able to observe couples for specific signs of lack of Good Will, and were able to predict future failed marriages with great degree of accuracy. It is also interesting to note that, Dr. John Gottman’s studies, using the “thin-slicing” method, have further expanded into broader relationships beyond just marriage, and researchers we able to successfully predict the outcome of human relationships and interactions.

The Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus has once said “Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him.”

It is our human nature to feel pain, hurt, anger, fear, irritation, anxiety, confusion, jealousy, resentment. But also, it is our choice to whether to respond or react to these emotions.

Our reactions come naturally in the form of withdrawal or desire for retaliation when something happens that might normally upset us or trigger some kind of emotional reaction. For an example, in traffic, honking our horn or doing something worst, when we are irritated by other drivers. Or remaining silent but angry if someone cuts into a line which we have been waiting for some time. Our reactions are usually learned by example, without any conscious, critical or cognitive thinking, in other words not mindful. They are the manifestation of popular and deemed acceptable behaviors observed in our society, seen in social media or regularly watched on TV. The Good Will which is necessary for a strong relationship, brotherhood and marriage, often fall victim to our reactions which we usually later defend because of our pride.

On the other hand, our responses are mindful; they are our conscious decisions that are learned, internalized and practiced. These responses represent our values, believes and ultimately our identity, who we are.

A person responding with assumption of Good Will is mindful of the brewing reaction. Watches reaction go away and gives the benefit of the doubt by assuming no intentional harm meant by the other person, despite how much he or she may have hurt, angered, or irritated us. The action which has triggered our emotions can very well be unintentional or impersonal. Such as a misunderstanding, as a results of an unintended consequence of a well-intended act, accident, error in judgement, etc. If we simply react with a retaliation, then may be our reaction is the only intentionally and purposefully action to inflict equal or greater harm or pain to the other person. Although such retaliation does not solve our feelings, there is a false satisfaction of justice. But, is there a justice in purposeful and intentional retaliation to hurt someone for an unintended, perhaps even unaware action? There would be no peace and harmony in a relationship or brotherhood with those whom we have chosen to be with. Same thing is true when reaction is passive aggressive through silence and withdrawal. Assumption of Good Will sets us on to the path of harmony and peace in our relationships, and then forgiveness cements it. Those who chose to act repeatedly with intention to inflict harm, pain or hurt others in a relationship will eventually  destroy the relationship.

In Masonry we learn to live by the Masonic virtues Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, and promise to respond (act) within the square and the compasses, and by the plumb.

The Square is an emblem of virtue, in which we must square our actions by the square towards all mankind. The compasses demonstrate our wisdom of conduct by confining our desires and keeping our passions within due bounds. A plumb line was used to test vertical walls with the line of gravity by operative masons. In speculative Masonry, plumb symbolizes; an upright Mason who stands straight up, doesn’t bend or wobble in principals, like a good solid column that won’t cave in under pressure, including those that are internal. The plumb line teaches the principle of morality, to avoid dishonesty in conversation and action, and to direct our steps in the path which leads to immortality. This idea of the immortal life was always connected in symbology of the perpendicular, something that rose directly upward. This symbolism is also observed during Sunday prayers in church, as the worshiping Christians stand up, as a reference to the Lord's resurrection on that day.

Another aspect of Good Will is in respect and obedience.  Obedience is almost always achieved through fear. However in a society of people with good will, respect is granted by wisdom and obedience by respect. Obedience to God comes from his Good Will towards Men kind, and respect to God comes from his wisdom that teaches us.

We live in times, where arrogance and narcissism are confused with high self-esteem while humility is devaluated and considered a weakness. Let’s remember that before the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sign and example of humility and love. Jesus was also demonstrating that the leadership is a service provided with humility and agape love, despite he already knew, one of the disciples was going to betray him the next day. The word Maundy comes from the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor and Thursday the day of the last supper.

The Good Will is unconditional and the single most important element that brings harmony and strength to our three grand principles; brotherly love, relief and truth. Practicing Good Will, builds strong relationships including successful marriages, stronger societies and countries towards peace and harmony.

I want to end this with Luke 2:14 (KJV) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Also translates to "on earth peace to men of good will,". . . . With that, I wish you all peace and harmony in your relationships.