THE BLACK CUBE
by Tim S. Anderson DGS/LSC
Excerpted and adapted from The MSA Short Talk Bulletin Nov. 1929
Unfortunately, no hard and fast rule can be laid
down on the use of a Black Cube when balloting. There is no way to
explain "this is a good reason,
but that is not a good reason"
for casting a black cube. Each Mason has to judge the reason for himself. Yet
some suggestions may be given.
We know a man we dislike. He has different ideas
from ours. He belongs to a different "set." He is not the type that we
admire. Our dislike does not amount to hatred, nor is it predicated upon any
evil in the
man's character. He and we are antipathetic; we
rub each other the wrong way. When he
applies to our lodge we must decide this question: will the unpleasantness to
us, in having him as a member, be greater than the good to him which may come
from his reception of the Masonic teachings? Are we sure that we cannot accept
him as a brother merely because we "have never liked him?"
We all know cases
like this; the president of the bank turns down Johnson's application for a
second mortgage. Johnson makes the matter personal. He "has it in" for the
president. The president applies for the degrees. Someone casts a black cube.
It may or may not be Johnson. No one knows. But later perhaps we hear
Johnson's boast "I got even with that son-of-a-gun who turned down my loan!" He
doesn't say how he "got even," of course. But we are pretty sure we know. Such
a use of the black cube is, of course, utterly un-Masonic. It is a misuse of a
great power. We might as well turn down the minister of the Baptist church
because he doesn't agree with our minister, who is a Methodist! Or turn down
the automobile dealer because he refused to give us a larger allowance on our
old car! To turn the Masonic black cube into a secret dagger for personal
revenge is un-Masonic and indefensible.
some curious miracles. A self-made man applied five times for the degrees in a
certain lodge. The man was rather uneducated, yet a commercial success. He
had, literally, raised himself by his bootstraps from the poverty of the
streets to a business position of some prominence. Yet he was rather raw, rough
and ready, even uncouth. No shadow of personal unworthiness rested upon him;
he was honest, upright, a good citizen. In this lodge a certain Past Master
(as was discovered in after years) voted four times against this
applicant. The Past Master left the city. On the fifth application the
petitioner was elected. Something in Masonry took hold of his heart. Through
Masonry he was led to acquire some of the education that he lacked; through
Masonry he was led into the church. In time he made such a reputation for
himself as a Mason that he was put in the officers line, and finally achieved
the solemn distinction of being made Master of his lodge. He is still regarded
as one of the best, most constructive and ablest Masters that lodge has ever
In the course of ten or twelve years the absent Past
Master returned. In the light of history, he confessed (which strictly speaking
he should not have done!) that it was he who had kept this man out for what he
really believed were good reasons. He thought the "rough neck" would detract
from the dignity and honor of the Fraternity. Yet this same "rough neck,"
through Masonry, became educated, a good churchman, a fine Mason and an
Had the Past Master, whose black cubes were cast
with honest intention to benefit the Fraternity, not left town the blessings of
Masonry might forever have been denied to a heart ready to receive them and
society, the lodge and the church been prevented from having the services of a
man who gave largely of himself to all three.
The black cube is the great protection of the
Fraternity; it permits the brother who does not desire to make public his secret
knowledge, to use that knowledge for the benefit of the Craft. It gives to all
members the right to say who shall not become members of their lodge family.
But at the same time it puts to the test the Masonic heart, and the personal
honesty of every brother who deliberates on its use.
The black cube is a thorough test of our
understanding of the Masonic teaching of the cardinal virtue, justice, which
"enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction." We are
taught of justice that "it should be the invariable practice of every Mason,
never to deviate from the minutest principle thereof."
Justice to the lodge requires us to cast the black
cube on an applicant we believe to be unfit. Justice to ourselves requires that
we cast the black cube on the application of the man we believe would destroy
the reputation of our lodge.
Through justice to the applicant we are taught to
render justice to every man,
not merely to Masons. To
symbolically cast no black cube for little reasons, small reasons, mean
reasons. And justice to justice requires that we think carefully, deliberate
slowly, and act cautiously. No man will know what we do; no eye will see, save
that All Seeing Eye that pervades the innermost recesses of our hearts, and
will, so we are taught, reward us according to our merits.
Shakespeare said, "O, it is excellent to have a
giant's strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant!"
The black cube is a giant's strength to protect
Freemasonry. Used thoughtlessly, carelessly, without Masonic reason, it crushes
not only him at whom it is aimed but also him who casts it.
A well-used black cube goes into the ballot box.
Ill-used, it drops into the heart and blackens it.
Remember: Always vote for the good of the Fraternity.
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