“Meeting on the Level” was a recurring them in February. It took center stage in our meeting as we were reminded of the landmarks of Freemasonry, following Lodge it turned out to be prevalent throughout our conversations, and my own life for many days more. Last month’s discussion of the teachability of virtue brought several interesting questions out of the library. From Bro. Blake Presswood’s incisive reconstruction of Aquinas’ Principle of Double Effect to the Worshipful Master’s recounting of the story of Moses and Al- Khadir; the evening ultimately focused everyone on the problem of intent and its paradoxical alliance with effect. I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who participated – this second effort to drill down and unpack the notion of virtue expanded all our experience of the mysteries of our fraternity. And I am personally grateful that it gave me greater knowledge of the Level – knowledge which turned out to be quite useful this past week.
Several days ago, I fell into a familiar trap. To be clear, I sprung it on myself, though one symptom of this snare is looking everywhere for villains to . In a moment, I was flushed with rage at the outcome of someone’s choices. How could they do this to me?! I thought (felt, actually), but I was saved from making grave and irreparable mistakes because I took the time to calm down, assume positive intent, and meet others on the Level.
My story seems bland in this sanitized state, but I believe we have all been in this trap at one time or another. Who hasn’t come to words (or blows) with a friend, a relative, or (tragically) a Brother because of some misunderstanding? How often have we learned in retrospect that no harm was ever intended; or that even if harm had been anticipated, that our friends’ intent was beyond reproach? How often have we been the one doing some harm because we believed it was necessary for someone else’s betterment? How often have we been horrified to learn our heartfelt attempts to aid another brought them harm?
I encourage you to read the story of Moses and Al-Khidr. Read it twice, probably. Because when I first heard the story I snapped to the decision that Moses’ failure was not assuming positive intent of his teacher. Upon further reflection, however I think Al-Khidr is guilty of the same failure. He could have trusted that Moses could handle a fuller briefing. But perhaps I should give Al-Khidr the benefit of the doubt – this story was intended to teach deeper truths after all. Maybe read the story three times.
Thank you for your time and consideration, Brethren. I pray you and all you love are well, and I look forward to seeing you again in March for our lecture on Aristotle’s disposition on the usefulness of friendship.