Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly.
Sincerity is the virtue of being honest and tempering our thoughts through pure intent. Breaking down what the great Benjamin Franklin defined sincerity as we begin with the admonishment to “Use no hurtful deceit…” If we’re to consider our duty as a Freemason, to be honest, and have integrity in all of our dealings, then we are primarily covering this particular.
Hurtful. Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Financially? Socially? Internally? Personally? How about all of the above. Not only is Worshipful Brother Franklin speaking in generalities but as a Mason, we can easily apply the lesson of this virtue to our teachings. Teachings that have pointed us in the right direction for centuries and that hold true even today.
We are to “act upon the square” when dealing with our neighbors—which in essence, means anyone other than ourselves. You cannot act upon the square and be hurtful in any shape or form. None whatsoever. Again, this is in line with our Masonic tenets and should in no way be alien to your current way of thinking.
To “think innocently and justly…” does not mean to be naive. The instruction can be interpreted to not make a hasty judgment and to only come to an assessment of another person’s actions, intent, or dealings after you’ve performed a due and just investigation. Do not attend to another’s bias with swift wings, but instead, look upon the situation with open eyes, an open heart, and an open mind guided by the principles and precepts inherent within our great and ancient order. Furthermore, do not act harshly and hastily in this judgment. All reactions and consequences should be just and well within the dictates of the teachings of Solomon.
Finally, we’re covering the very direct mandate that we “speak accordingly.” I can see phantoms of previously defined and discussed virtues hovering about this phrase. Silence, for one, stands out as I consider the implications within this singular demand.
To speak accordingly is not to speak unnecessarily. It means to only speak of those things that you know as a certainty and not to make claims based on assumption and hearsay. It is an obligation of the learned and wise to refrain from being loose of tongue and for a good reason. The more a man spews forth unbecoming statements and uses vernacular that is laced with common phrasing, illicit metaphors, profanity, and crude references; the less respect that man earns. Even until he is finally relegated to sup with the swine such behavior is akin to by those around him.
So, it is with hope that I present this article to you, my brothers in Masonry. Hope that we all approach our daily interactions (whether they are in person, over the phone, online, or through another method of communication) with the Virtue of Sincerity, tempering our words, and providing us with the opportunities to improve our relations, perceptions, and public image as an organization and individually.