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On the Level

Today in Masonic History we discuss On the Level.

The Level is a tool used in construction.

Just about every mason hears the phrase 'On the Level' when they attend their lodge meeting. It is one of most basic ideas put forth in Freemasonry.

At it's core on the level indicates that an object is the same distance from a common surface no matter where you measure from. This is critical in construction to make sure that a house or structure will stand. That the floors do not slope and things will not roll or slide across the floor. Generally in construction when something is level, it has more to do with the ground on which it stands and gravity as a whole.

In Freemasonry a level not only refers to things that are of equal distance from a common surface, it refers to many other things.

The first thing it refers to is what the phrase most commonly translates to outside of the fraternity. When someone is 'on the level' they are honest, they deal with someone fairly. This also can have another allusion most commonly held with one of the Cardinal Virtues of Freemasonry, Justice. The balance scale, which is a common symbol to indicate Justice, has a level as it's core element. With both sides being equal, a balance scale will be level across indicating that both sides are equal.

The second thing, is that it is a reminder that we are all equal in the eyes of death, often referred to in masonry as the "Great Leveler." It means that death comes for us all no matter what station we have attained in life, no matter what we attained as status in the fraternity, we will all look upon the face of death. It is a reminder for all of us that we are no different from the person walking beside us on the street or standing next to us in our lodge room.

Third and most importantly, it is a reminder to Freemasons that no matter what we do inside the fraternity, no matter what position we hold or have held, we have a responsibility to our brothers and to the world to treat each others as equals. No one person is more important than another in the fraternity, even when someone briefly achieves the position of Most Worshipful Grand Master, the highest position and leader in any Grand Jurisdiction. All must be held to the same standards and all must be treated as equals.

It is for all these reasons that most lodges will end their meeting with everyone standing on the same surface. It symbolizes that we are all standing together equally and no one, no matter their position is exempted from standing shoulder to shoulder with their brothers. One of the best examples of on the level comes from an installation ceremony. In it is stated, "From the ranks you have risen and to the ranks you shall return." It is a reminder that some of us may be called to lead from timer to time, we must always remember that we are still 'on the level' with our brothers.

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April 2020
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