You ARE the Example
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey
MIC John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of New Jersey
Be the Example
As a member of our Fraternity, no matter what your rank or title, to the rest of the world YOU are Freemasonry. From the lowliest Entered Apprentice to those who wear the royal purple, we are each the representative of what a Mason is to those we meet every day. How you act as a person out there in the real world reflects on our Craft, and on how each and every Brother, Companion, and Sir Knight is perceived by others whose only knowledge of the Craft comes from your actions.
In the Mark Master Mason Degree, you learned that a Master Mason put his mark, his name, on every piece of work he created. In the Degree, the reason for this is that on payday they would know how much to pay the owner of that mark, based on the pieces of approved work that he had completed. This approval came for the Overseers, whose sole job was the review the work of others by comparing it to a fixed standard of excellence, the Square. The Overseers were well-skilled and had been given a very specific set of specifications. Either the piece met these specifications, or it did not. No middle ground, no subjective decisions: good, true, and square, or it was thrown away. If your work was not approved, you were paid nothing. Eventually, we have to assume that a master whose work was never approved would either be fired or would starve to death.
But in the real world, everyone is a critic. No special requirements must be met for someone to feel empowered to pass judgment on anyone and anything. There is no set standard of right and wrong that everyone must use to judge others. And you do not know when you’re going to be subjected to such judgment. Workers brought up their work at a specific time. As a person in the real world, you can be judged at any time, by anyone, by any standard that they choose. Use of the same standard by the same person on the same action is not required, either.
You, as a person, and, more especially, as a Mason, are on display at all times. And anyone who sees you with your lapel pins on, your hat with a Masonic emblem, or a Masonic license plate on your car, is free to judge all Masons based on what you say and do. You may be the only Mason they’ve seen; what else do they have to judge us by except you.
As you drive the crowded highways of the Garden State, you’ll see many vehicles with a bumper sticker that says “How’s my driving?” The sticker will have a toll-free number to call, and some form of identification number that tells them which vehicle you’ve called to complain about.
You should, act, walk, and conduct yourself as if your name was printed on your back, and people could call 1-800-MASONRY to complain about you. You ARE the example!