Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Within our order there is a general perspective: Freemasonry is for the betterment of Mankind. We Masons approach this charge with fervor through efforts in self-improvement, charity work, and educational practices. However, there are more mundane—more routine ways to follow the admonishments of our very own Brother Benjamin Franklin. He states that Justice is an admirable virtue, and further defines it through the phrase, “Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty,” which I’ve already noted above.
The beginning of the sentence is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t go around beating people up. That would be the most common interpretation of such a simple statement were I to ask a host of people on the street. However, the word “injuries” can refer to so much more than just physical abuse. There’s mental abuse, emotional abuse, and (as the latter portion of the sentence states) the denial of the benefits that are your duty to extend.
I’ve created a list of things to do to better practice this particular virtue:
- No unkind words: think before you speak, and ask yourself if the statement you are about to make is constructive, contributing, and caring. If it is, then continue. If not, then be cautious in delivery. Even to the point of not saying what you’d initially planned.
- Have integrity: when you lie, cheat, or break your word you are causing emotional injuries to those who have witnessed, or endured such behavior.
- Offer support: when in communication with another, steer clear of harmful and deflating commentary concerning their plans, dreams, and actions. Dr. Lund, a renowned psychologist, has said that “Reality is enough of a wet blanket…” and I believe that wholeheartedly. Let people dream, and allow people to think they can accomplish the highest peak. The Great Architect of the Universe has designed the human being with tenacity, endurance, and ingenuity that allows us to surmount the insurmountable. We indeed fail when we don’t try, but failing while trying is educational, and the next attempt is better for it. To quote Chip Gaines of the popular reality television show, Fixer Upper:
“I’ve got a different take on the whole concept of sink or swim. In my opinion, you win either way. If you swim, that means you’re capable. If you sink, that simply means you need more practice. It’s less of an ‘if you don’t make it, you aren’t good enough’ mindset and more of an opportunity to truly assess where you are and what you still need to work on.”
There’s no reason for you to contribute to an individual’s self-doubt.
- Avoid negative physical contact: Hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving, kicking, biting, gouging, restraining, or otherwise invading a person’s personal space with the intent to impose; it is all unacceptable behavior of a Mason except in defense of the defenseless.
- Be reliable: when committing, keep the commitment. And if you cannot, communicate with those whom it affects and ensure that your inability to follow through is recognized, and not a surprise.
- Fairness: fairness is multifaceted. Fairness in business dealings, at home with your wife, kids, brothers, sisters, parents… in your dealings with your fellow man no matter their creed, religion, politics, etc.
These are just a few ways to practice the virtue of Justice better. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of Justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
The practice of Justice is no easy task to undertake as Freemasons, but it is worth it. Practice Justice in your life, and report back your successes so we can all celebrate our Brother’s growth. What are some ways that you’ve experienced Justice in your life of late?