Anyone who has lived three-fourths of a century has seen the development of all the modern gadgets for office and home, as well as such things as the typesetting machine, automobile, airplane, radio, television, and a thousand so-called modern necessities that were not so much as dreamed of in the days of our fathers. During the years many things have been invented, have been useful for a time, and have disappeared from the scene.
Freemasonry, however, was here long before the invention of these modern conveniences and machines that have revolutionized the home, society and industry. It will continue, regardless of to what undreamed of extent inventions may take us. No ancient or modern invention has wrought any noticeable effect upon it. It has remained unchangeable while everything around it has changed. Life has been streamlined; but Freemasonry's rituals teach the same things that were taught by the rituals of 1717 and earlier. Even the manner of teaching Freemasonry's lessons has hardly changed except as greater understanding has given us opportunity to make more modern applications, or has given us new interpretations of unchanging Symbols.
We need more things in life as fundamental and as unchangeable as the eternal Truths which have attended and preserved Freemasonry through the centuries.
It is interesting to compare this word with “emblem” with which it is so often confused. The Greek symbolon was a mark, or sign, or token, or tally; it is derived from sun, together, and ballein, put, or throw, from which we have ball, ballistics, etc. Symbolon indicated two things put together, thrown together, or matched together. If, for example, the numeral 9 is matched to a pile of marbles, one to one, the 9 is a symbol of the number of marbles. From this came the custom of calling a symbol some object, device, design, picture, etc., used not for its own sake, but for the purpose of referring to some other, and perhaps very different, thing with which it has been associated. It is any visible, audible, or tangible object used to typify some idea, or truth, or quality, as when a wedding ring is made the symbol of marriage, the square is made the symbol of the earth, or the cross is made the symbol of Christianity, the crescent of Mohammedanism, etc.
It signifies or represents some truth, idea or fact, but is not itself the thing it represents.