Some thoughts on the word duty

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by iainmason, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. iainmason

    iainmason Registered User


    By R. W. Ashworth, P.M.
    King Solomon Lodge, No. 17 and Lewis Lodge, No. 57.
    Published in Masonic Bulletin-BCY- December 1957

    As Freemasons we first hear the word DUTY just before the Worshipful Master tells the Candidate that it is necessary to take an obligation. He assures the Candi¬date that there is nothing in the obligation that will conflict with any of the DUTIES that he owes to GOD, his country, his neighbour or himself. What then is a DUTY? There are many definitions - such as, "that which is proper to be done." But whatever the definition, it means basically, "a method of conduct to which our station in life commits us" In one of his works Daniel Webster says: "a sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent like the Deity." Tennyson refers to it as "the still small Voice," and Wordsworth goes still further and calls it "Stern Daughter of the Voice of God."

    Masonically these duties are highly important and from the very phrasing they take priority over obligations. Obligations are voluntary, duties are not, and are im¬posed from without; and the higher one's station in life, and the higher his education, and the higher his intelligence, the higher will be this duty. The order in which these duties are mentioned is important. First in order is our DUTY to GOD. One of the best directives of our duty to God is found in Deuteronomy VI v. 5:-"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Our Galiliean Master called this the greatest of the commandments. Our ritual states that by keeping the Sabbath holy our ancient brethren were given ample opportunity to adore their Great Creator. Adoration of the Creator is a foremost duty.

    The Psalmist recognized this. He starts so many of his wonderful songs with such phrases as - Praise the Lord O my soul; Bless the Lord; O give thanks unto the Lord, etc., etc. Modern civilization has brought into existence numerous organizations which try to benefit the underprivileged. These are trying to ful¬fill the Divine command :-"If ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me." Each one of us has that "still small voice," and unless we deliberately avoid listening or dull our sense of hearing, it will tell us where our duty lies. May we give heed to the last of the words of Ecclesiasties: "Fear GOD, and keep His com¬mandments; for this is the whole duty of man."

    Next we speak of the duty to our country. In the present conflict between the ideologies of the democracies and the ideologies of Communism and various other "isms' the duties of a true citizen cannot be emphasized too strongly. The Biblical, injunction is, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars." Or to put it colloquially, "Keep the law." To exercise our privilege of voting, to keep our municipal, provincial, and federal laws, and to conduct ourselves properly in public office are ob¬vious ways to do our duty to our country. These, however, will amount to little, without we try sincerely to help our fellow citi¬zens, and to have a desire to benefit the condition of society as a whole. As good citizens our conduct should be beyond reproach. Remember the words of the charge at your initiation.

    Thirdly the duty we owe to our neighbour would be an exemplifica¬tion of the Golden Rule. The story of the good Samaritan comes to mind readily. The Samaritans were despised and scorned by the Israel¬ites. This traditional enmity is being exhibited by the Israelis and the Arabs of today, but the Samari¬tan in the story overcame racial prejudice to render succour to the grievously wounded and injured Jewish traveller. The Red Cross Society is a modern version of the parable. All the great religions have taught that injuries received should be wiped from remembrance: malice and revenge should have no place in our hearts. The duty to our neighbour includes extending the hand of benevolence in time of need, sympathy in time of distress, and encouragement to the faint¬hearted. Help in small ways will often smooth the pathway to hap¬piness. Life is so full of opportun¬ities, golden opportunities, to give unselfish service to our fellow man. Possibly, duty to the family should be included in this category. As a husband we have entered into a contract either verbal or implied, to maintain a home where honesty, virtue and love shall reign. As a father a man has the duty to exert an enormous influence for good on his children.

    Ideas of virtue, honesty, and integrity must take precedence over the idea of "getting on at any cost." Man cannot serve God and Mammon. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

    And lastly, duty to self. First we must acknowledge the omnipotence, omniscience, and om¬nipresence of the Great Creator. If we lived as being constantly in His presence, we would banish all uncharitableness, vice, hatred, and malice, and would attain to a state where God's will is done on earth. Unyielding integrity of character, and the practice of virtue would bring us more nearly to the goal, which would make us the living Temples of God.

    Summing up very briefly man's duties are:

    1. To God - humble reverence and submission to His laws, Moral and Physical.

    2. To our country - faithful allegiance to our coded laws and co-operation to promote obed¬ience to the same.

    3. To our neighbour - to do unto him as we would desire him to do to us.

    4. To ourselves - unyielding integrity of character.

    Freshen your minds with the teachings of the Entered Appren¬tice. The Holy Bible is to be the rule and guide of our lives. The square, as a right-angle teaches rightness of action. The compasses teach us to circumscribe our actions and to keep within the moral law. The apron of lambskin, unspotted and clean, is emblematic of what our lives should be; the gavel re¬minds us to divest ourselves of the vices of mankind; and we are told to give one-third of our time to God and worthy distressed brethren. How about visiting in the hospital or home, or where that is not possible a short letter would be appreciated. In the north-east corner we were told to walk and act as upright men and were ad¬monished to mention the name of the Deity with reverence and awe.

    The Entered Apprentice Degree is being more and more emphasized as the most important degree. Men in the business world tell us that first impressions are the most im¬portant. Let us make the first impression of Freemasonry one which will remain with the Candi¬date as a night in which he begins a more serious and dedicated life.

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