What does Justice have to do with Freemasonry?
Justice is one of the cardinal virtues and is thus a Masonic value.
We endeavor to be just and true in all of our dealings.
Origin and Definition
Justice comes to us via the Old French justice, via the Latin iustitia, via the Latin iustus. It denotes legal rights, jurisdiction, righteousness, equity, and uprightness.
How to Apply Justice to Daily Life
George Washington once said, “The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice.” With this, I wholeheartedly agree.
To be just is to abide by the law to the best of one’s ability, to be peaceable, and to treat all others with fairness. Sometimes it is difficult to be just, especially when we ourselves are not treated justly.
When we are wronged, how do we react? A common theme in literature and film is that Justice and vengeance are not the same thing. Vengeance is an ugly goal that is only self-serving and that can beget more wrongs between the affected parties. Justice for one is Justice for all.
Society benefits when we put such unjust treatment behind us and walk away. It can feel shocking when a generally good community is affected by the misconduct of the few; this feeling of shock is magnified when that misconduct becomes evil.
However, we as a community can overcome such obstacles in life by continuing to set a just example for our neighbors and for our posterity.
As a community, we can be stronger in all things than as individuals, including in meeting out or in accepting Justice.
Justice also includes rewarding those who do good. A reward does not have to be an extravagant prize; it may be nothing more than a thank-you or even the smallest smile.
How to Apply Justice as Masons
In Masonry, we are taught that
“Justice is our standard or boundary of right which enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction.”
We are further taught that Justice “is the very cement and support of civil society ….”
We are also to reprehend with Justice the offenses which our brethren might commit, according to our laws and regulations (which would be via reprimand, suspension, or expulsion).
We Masons are charged to be peaceable, law-abiding people in whatever countries we find ourselves to be.
Each of us has a belief in a Supreme Being of some sort; since our laws on earth are not perfect, we Masons can reasonably expect that full Justice will be meted out wherever temporal laws fail, in accordance with whatever Laws of Justice and Mercy are had by the Supreme Grand Architect of the Universe.
Sometimes, Justice on our part is trusting that Justice will be had, whether in this life or the next.
Justice is also strictly conforming not only to the laws of the land, but also to that respective Volume of Sacred Law to which we individually believe in.
A big part of being a Mason is being an example of whatever spiritual or religious ideology we respectively adhere to.
Just because religion is not discussed in Lodge does not mean that we must leave it at the door and cannot exemplify it through our actions.
As individuals and communities (including Masonic communities), life without Justice would be chaos.
Let us strive to be just in our interactions with others and to let our respective lights shine therefrom.
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You can see more from our Masonic virtues series here: