C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33
Sovereign Grand Commander

“Family values” must include “values taught in the family.”

One of the great lessons of Masonry generally and of the Scottish Rite specifically is balance or equilibrium. The hand-held balance or scales appear in the symbolism of Degree after Degree. Together, the two terms account for 59 entries in the index to Morals and Dogma.

In perhaps no area of life is equilibrium more important than in the area of family values. We often speak of maintaining a strong and healthy family as a “balancing act,” and it is.

In our time, family values are the topic of much discussion. Some people lament the loss of family values when what they are really saying is that they long for the days of the last century when the father ruled with unquestioned authority, the mother stayed at home to keep house, and children were “seen but not heard” and “spoke only when spoken to.” It comes as no surprise that those who bemoan the passing of those “values” are usually men with a strong autocratic desire.

Others long for the days when the family spent more time together. They long for those days while filling their lives with a schedule which takes them from home four nights a week; enrolling their children in Little League baseball, football, and soccer; and encouraging them to take classes in swimming, gymnastics, and judo. They then wonder why they never seem to talk as a family or sit down to share an evening meal.

Some wonder whatever happened to the moral and spiritual values of the family, as they wait for the church bus to pick up their children and take them to Sunday School.

Some denounce our loose and pleasure-oriented society for destroying “family values” as they go further into debt to afford a larger car or house.

Others rail against the government for “not cracking down” when their children experiment with drugs or sex—although they have never talked with their children about drugs or sex, except to accuse them of misconduct.

It’s not to say that good, loving, wise and supportive parents cannot run into serious trouble with their children. There is a world out there, and while it contains much that is good, it also contains much that is evil.

But the world does work on the basis of balance and equilibrium.

Parents who have little time for their children should not be surprised if their children have little time for them. Such things as love, trust, confidence, and morality are learned and developed. If we weigh down one side of the balance with indifference, hostility, suspicion, unreasonable demands or anger, we should not be surprised when the other side of the balance flies away from the center line. And we have to remember that “family values” must include “values taught in the family.”

Parents who drink excessively must not be surprised if their children experiment with alcohol and drugs. Parents who argue continuously, showing no respect for each other, must not be surprised if their children show no respect for them. Parents who speak insultingly of people of different races, or with disabilities, or of those who follow different religions, or who have less money, or who come from different countries must not be surprised if their children are also narrow, intolerant, hate-filled, and bigoted.

But parents who respect and love each other can expect children who respect and love them in one way or another. Parents who practice moderation can expect children who do likewise, although youth itself will sometimes produce temporary excesses. Parents who value each person they encounter on the true qualities of that person, not such externals as race or wealth or language or origin, can expect children who do likewise. Parents who build a home in which communication is encouraged, knowledge valued, and love expressed can expect children who talk with them, learn for the pleasure of learning, and who not only love their parents but also like them as well.

We build our world as we build our families and our own values. We are society. Through the transformative power of Freemasonry, let us build it, as we form ourselves, upon the great tenets of our Craft.


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