- of that there is no question.
What do we *DO* with them?  Besides "illustrate moral and ethical
principles", I mean.
I am coming to understand that Masonry does define the symbols it uses (most of them, anyway).  But the definitions are only in the most general terms.  The Plumb signifies that we should ever remember to walk uprightly.  The VoSL that we should always look to our Divine Creator, and His Teachings (as given to us in His Holy Word) for guidance and support in all our undertakings.  The beehive that we should be industrious, and so on.
Nowhere that I can find, in any of the symbols or teachings in Masonry, is there more than the most general definition.  What does it mean to "walk uprightly"?  Which Holy Book should we use to learn about, what Name should we use to refer to The Great Architect?  What form should our industry take?
All these, and other, questions are left for the individual to determine for himself, in the context of his life, as he finds best.
There are no instructions and no judgments.
Does patriotism mean voting for or against this issue?  Is it my duty as a neighbor to advise the folks next door that their back-yard target practice is bothering the neighbors, or is it my duty to call the cops and have them restore the peace and good order of the neighborhood?  Does Brotherly Love mean that I should loan my friend the money, or is it better to help him find a job?  Should I draw a card or stand pat?
Masonry stands mute on all these, and similar issues.  All Masonry does, really, is remind us that we are to find ways of causing true friendships to exist among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.  Masonry encourages us to practice Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, Faith, Hope, Charity, Respect, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.  It does this, largely, by presenting us with symbols, inspirational reminders, of these ideas.
However, HOW we are to do those things are left up to us.  How we will interpret the symbols is our decision.  What actions we will undertake, or not, is left to our own election.