The Three Black Cubes…

Sometimes, things in the lodge seem unfair. Why do “they” get to always do that job? How come “those guys” always sit there together? “Why” don’t I get that opportunity?

I witnessed a rare valuable lesson last week with two edges of the blade. In a regular stated meeting, with nothing exceedingly exciting planned, we held a ballot for a new petitioning young man.

This was nothing out of the ordinary, since my state has lowered its legal age to 18, a ballot in from a young man like this wasn’t anything to really raise an eyebrow at. Bundled into a batch of 2 other plural applications, the package was taken to the floor.

After the usual jovialness that accompanies such an event, everyone made it back to their seats. The warden retrieved the ballot to carry it through the chairs and into a Eastern horizon under dark storm clouds. It seems, there was a cube in with the spheres.

Perhaps with the new initiates attending their first lodge meeting they were confused as to the order of what elects and what rejects. Maybe one of the senior 75-year members picked-up the wrong one. What ever the error, we wound the serpent back up to coil its way around again, only this time, with the first, one new petitioner.

Away it went, all corners emptying to recast their globes. Maybe it was the clowns on the last go, you know the Shrine does still attend the Blue. Again the joviality, the joking sense of “Uh oh, was it you?” and “Oh no, not me, [chuckle], it must have been you!” As the last balloter took his seat, the storm watch was set. Was it the young man of very good report who threw off the heavy load of newly petitioned masons?

Storm Clouds and Darkness…

Ok, the clowns were loose, at least a few. The murmurs and hisses were audible. Why would anyone use the one of the few black cubes in the box? This had to be a joke. This balloter was very well recommended, coming from an excellent pedigree and all of his top liners were legitimate, they all knew the kid.

It had to be a mistake.

The W.M. called a time out, cleared the lodge and invited, whomever the disgruntled balloter was, to come to him to discuss the problem. In a Solomnic move, it seemed no one took the bait. So, after a ten minute recess, the refreshment was over.

The processional wound itself again, and the cadre moved to ballot one last time.

Surly is the best word to describe this mob. Voting three times in one night, for one ballot? The dies were cast, and the proclamation struck.

Darkness again prevailed.

An audible gasp could be heard in the pin drop silence.

At the end of the evening, the vitriolic statements of “it’s not right” and “not fair” resonated soundly through those in attendance. How could something like this happen? Had the nominating committee not done their jobs? Had someone missed something? The prevailing sentiment was that someone had done this kid wrong. After all, the other two ballots went through without a whisper of contention.

I have to admit, I too was shocked by what I had witnessed, but secretly, in the back of my mind, I felt cheered. I was cheered that a brother, sitting in lodge with me that night, had conscious to cast the negative ballot, even with the ballyhoo of the masses on the sidelines. Many said it was a personal grudge being carried out, that it was the investigator that they were voting against. But in the end, does it matter?

The secret ballot is the strongest asset to masonry we have. Like our American Democracy, it is our divine right as men of free will, to vote when a vote is called for. And that vote is our individual say in the future of our fraternity. Remember, it not numbers, its quality. If we fail to vote our conscious, then who are we failing?

The lessons those three black cubes taught me was that there is still hope for Freemasonry, and all it takes is for us to care. Even if the care is just enough to cast that negative ballot.


~ by Greg on February 4, 2007.

7 Responses to “The Three Black Cubes…”

  1. My brother, ego’s and personal grudges are never to influence a vote. That brother who was too afraid to explain “why” and “what” this young man had done, is a sign of one who has not mastered himself. It has been that attitude precisely that has ruined our fraternity. When we vote in ohio, it is the Master’s duty to read a n edict that it is your right as a mason to vote, but no personal grudges are to influence ones vote.
    I am glad to see you feel good about personal ego’s being in lodge, and how one small minded, emotionally immature man can influence a lodge.
    We had a similar event where an elder had a problem with the petitioners father who was a member.
    Cube after cube came, but since when are we guilty of our fathers sins?

    If a man can’t control his personal dealings within or without the lodge, he should abstain from voting.

    over the last few decades, anyone who petitioned basially got in, but now, when an opportunity for a young man who is apparently seeking light looks to join your lodge, some older disgruntled man with a personal grudge, trumps logic and prevails.

    I would have demanded to know what was so wrong with this petitioner, make the coward stand and use his freedom of speech to explain his motives on the cube, and use it as an example that petty prejudices have no place in lodge!

    And if the cuber has a valid point, use the experience to change the investigating committee then, because they missed whatever this cuber knew, so it does not happen again.

    my heart goes out to that petitioner, some grumpy, selfish old man can do that to him! criminal.

  2. I disagree completely with the above anonymous poster! A Mason does not have to explain why he voted with a black cube. Do you think the ballotting process is mere ritual? If a brother has to tell how he voted, why is the ballot secret?

    Sure, a man may be blackballed by a brother harboring a grudge against the petitioner. If that happens, the brother is acting unmasonic, but… his vote is still valid, and sancrosanct.

    Masonic law (at least in Georgia) says that a box with one black cube on the first ballot shall be re-voted, but a box with two black cubes shall be declared a legitimate vote, and the petition denied. If on the second go-round, there is a black cube in the box, the petition is denied. Case closed. No discussion allowed.

    It is also considered unmasonic for anyone to discuss how they voted. In Traveler’s example, all who discussed the way they voted, even in jest, or who asked others “Was it you?” were acting unmasonic, and in fact should be brought up on charges.

    It is people NOT using the ballot box correctly that has caused problems in our fraternity.

    Widow’s Son

  3. Widow’s son quote: “It is people NOT using the ballot box correctly that has caused problems in our fraternity.”
    Precisely… so if our frat is filled with selfish, egomaniacs who would vote in his philandering co- worker rather than a young man searching lite, how do you fix it, except calling these men west of the alter, as a man, and explain your reasoning, if it is valid, it should stand, but if if some jag off has personal petty grudges, he should have to “man/mason” up and be proud to tell why this person is unqualified for “his” lodge!

    weed out the cowards who have no morals or back bone!

  4. If perhaps lodges actually had “education” or lectures during communications that elucidated on things Masonic, including repeating the admonition against voting against someone just because you don’t like them if they are good candidates for Masonry, then perhaps the egoists you speak of would see the error of their ways and vote properly.

    Or, at least, if they knew they were going to have to sit through a lecture at every meeting, maybe they wouldn’t show up!

    But to call a man to task for the way he voted is unmasonic, and plain wrong. It would make all elections a sham.

    —Widow’s Son

  5. In Masonic law – at least up here in Connecticut – WS is correct. The WM can call for another vote if he believes that there was a mis-vote, or a cube cast in error. After the second time, though, he should have just dropped the matter and informed the lodge that they were not to discuss it further. Calling a “time out” and sending the brothers out of the room to discuss the vote with anyone would warrant a phone call from the Grand Master to ask why the WM would so violate the rules of his Grand Lodge.

    Likewise, even the joking around before the re-vote would be considered un-Masonic up here – although I could certainly understand it happening.

    That said about the law, it is my own opinion that if a brother knows of good reason why a potential candidate should not be admitted, he should inform the investigation committee, or if it’s too late for that, have a private discussion with a senior officer, preferably the WM, well before it comes to a vote. That way, any irregularities can be addressed before it gets to the point as in the example above. See, once you get to the point when black cubes are cast, then you’ve got a couple of dozen people involved, with a lot of potential for hurt feelings. This young man may never apply to another lodge.

    I don’t know if I applaud the man’s actions or not, because I have no idea of his motivation. We recently lowered the age to 18, and some members around the state have been rather vociferous about their desire not to do so. But I once read an account of a man who seemed to be a good candidate who was blackballed several times by a lodge (not in Conn). Everyone was curious, but it eventually came out that the petitoner had date-raped another member’s sister several years previously. One could certainly question the legality of date-rape, but the fact remained that it would have made the member uncomfortable to sit in lodge with that particular individual.

    Yes, it’s quite possible that an older member just didn’t want a young whipper-snapper in lodge. But it’s also possible that sosmebody knew something very pertinent to the situation and had a very good reason to not want the young man in lodge.

  6. Shouldn’t the errant Brother have made known his objection to the WM before the vote, thus sparing the Lodge the trouble of voting and the candidate the embarassment of being rejected? That’s how I have seen it work, at least in California. I can’t really speak to anyone’s motivations for casting a negative vote. There may very well have been a legitimate reason. However, it would seem proper to object before it even gets to a ballot.

  7. WS quote: “But to call a man to task for the way he voted is unmasonic, and plain wrong. It would make all elections a sham.”

    it already is a shame… when a mason can cube a seeker of light because of his prejudices, it is a shame right then and there!

    masons have acted unchecked for too long. A mason will cube a young man, but vote/electioneer his corrupt buddy as the temple board treasurer.

    Since the unenlightened havemoved in and taken over lodges, the only way to rid the place of their ilk will be to make it known: If you enter with an ego, you will be checked, if you plan on “voting” with bias and personal prejudice, you will be called out on it, and if you reasoning for throwing a cube is valid, you will be appluaded for your diligence!

    stop the underhandedness that pervades our temples now.
    Shine Light on these cowards!

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