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The m.u.l.e. and freemasonry

by M.W.B. Ronnie Bell, GM, GL Kentucky

So one would ask, What would a mule have to do with free masonry? Natural question...let me try to explain. We are all aware of the stubbornness, ostentatious and bullheadedness that are sometimes identified as mulish characteristics. But, don't these characteristics apply to freemasonry in the latent conservatism of our Order. But yet, these attributes can be developed into Steadfastness, Loyalty and Unswerving Purpose of Mind. Laudable attributes that also can be applied to the character of that same proverbial mule.

My purpose here is much more important that discussing the character of a mule, but rather, to explain the analogy of the mule and its labors. But more yet, the acronym M.U.L.E. can be seen as an excellent symbol for the machinery of Freemasonry. Both for what is good practice for every mason, but also, for what can go wrong and stop us in our endevours. On this theme I will elaborate.

"M" This letter can be understood to represent Masonry, but more importantly, It may represent "Morality", one of the basic tenets or our Order. Yet, how many of us really understand the extreme importance of that tenet. In fact, how many of us actually understand what morality encompasses. Webster defines morality as "..the practice of moral duties; virtue; ethics...or the discrimination between right and wrong..."

Our Morality is defined from the time of our birth, adjusted by our experiences and seen by all that we are associated with. Of the many tenets of Freemasonry, morality is the one most visible to the outside world. Our morality is the most defining aspect of our character, yet, how many of us take our morality seriously. Do we always do what is "Right" or do we what is most "Expedient"?? Morality is many times defined by religious values, yet the basic moral tenets are the same in nearly all religions. Fair dealing, family values, concern for others and proper respect for live and property are taught, all important and all able to be improved by our perseverance. I know we all try to do that which is proper, but we all need to work at it. We cannot afford to be lax in developing our Morality, for how many prospective members would want to be associated with those they may perceive as "immoral", not many , I'm Sure!! "M" is #1 in MULE, "MORALITY" is #1 of our tenets!! Think about it!!! Often!!

"U" can be seen to represent "Unity". Our lectures tell us that it should always distinguish our institution, but, does it really?? I can't recall how many times in my conversations with my brethren I have heard "our Lodge does this", " My jurisdiction does that". We have all done this at some time in our masonic history. Yet, are we not "WE" not "US","YOU" or "THEM". I always hope for the time when, As Winnie the Pooh says to Christopher Robin, " I always love the times when YOU and ME become We". Even within each individual Lodge we have "cliches" of one form or another. Yes, there is diversity among the Craft. yet should we not stress what is the same. All of Freemasonry teaches the code for living one's life. I have tried in the recent past to try to point out the similarities and not so much on the differences. Yet, it is hard not to be aware of this diversity. and I do think if handled properly this diversity can be used to cause a unity in spirit. But more importantly, we must be united behind each other. In every decision made by a majority, even though we may not agree with the decision, we should back it up. Try not to complain but strive to live with the decision. There are ways to change minds without deriding or defaming. Would you want to join a bunch of characters that are always bickering and fighting... I think not and nor would others who might have otherwise been interested in uniting with us. Masonry is a world wide fraternity, we should not set boundaries. We should, instead, spread the Mortar of Unity between "cliche, lodge, districts, Grand Lodges and Countries. "U" symbolizes UNITY, let's strive to make it a Reality!!

"L" represents "Leadership". From the very inception of Freemasonry, leadership has been an intergral part of our Order.Thanks can be extended to those "Masonic Leaders" that helped form this great country as well as others and have continued to lead us over the years. Leadership skills should a very important part of the education of every mason, not only for the proper operation of the individual lodge, but also, for the satisfactory completion of our every day lives. Leadership can make or break lodge. Good leadership can instill a sense of pride, inthusiasm and a true desire to better one's self and that of others. True leadership can unite differing factions, instill understanding and foster tolerance of other's ideas and mores. But, poor leadership can cause indifference and that is the downfall of most lodges. "L" symbolizes LEADERSHIP. Much needed in today's lodges and society as a whole.

"E" represents "Education". Every degree in ancient craft masonry stresses the importance of education. It should be the goal of every mason to see that all members of the Craft are taught the laws, rules, tenets, symbolism and Rituals of the order. It also should be the purpose of all masons to educate themselves to the best of their ability and circumstance. Education is the foundation of ones life and work. Education fosters understanding, understanding of oneself and one's neighbors. Education allows one to improve oneself and frees the individual creativeness instilled in each of us. Masonic education allows us to understand the many symbols and allegories that are Freemasonry. It helps us to explain these symbols to our young members, thus, giving then an understanding of our labors. Education of ritual helps us to display the craft in an impressive manner so that the candidate has a better appreciation of the importance of our work, and hopefully, instill in the candidate a desire to learn more. Thus. improving one's life, the craft and society as a whole. "E" symbolizes EDUCATION. Very important, don't you Think!!??

All aspects of this acronym M.U.L.E.are important. If one is neglected, Freemasonry will become stagnant and unmoving. To continue the anology of the proverbial Mule. If the mule is healthy and happy, much work gets done. So it is with Freemasonry. If Freemasonry is "healthy and happy", then also most of our Masonic works get done. Yet as with the mule, if, unfortunately, the Order is upset, disjointed and of ill temper, then very Little gets done.

As a mule is the power that pulls the cart.. M.U.L.E. is the engine which drives Freemasonry. With out one the other goes no Where!!!

How would you like to be characterized.. As the proverbial stubborn Mule or as the Steadfast M.U.L. E. that drives Freemasonry??

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Last modified: March 22, 2014