Our Social Problem
Our ancient Operative Brethren came nearer solving these vexing questions than any one has ever come since. They worked as a fraternity; they had joy in their work, and saw spiritual meaning in it. Labor was a joy to them because it was constructive, and because they never lost the human touch — which is the saddest tragedy of modern industry. Their labor was communal. Each man worked as a 'brother in a community, not as a cog in a machine. It was mixed with friendliness, comradeship, and good will. They regarded their ingenuity — both as artists and as artisans — as a form of divine inspiration, a holy and consecrated skill, for which they gave thanks as a community on Whit-Sunday. The Master was not a Foreman or an Overseer; he was a Brother, a friend, and a teacher.
Surely modern industry is not the better for the loss of this spirit of reverence and cooperation — brotherly leadership and communal responsibility — which distinguished the fraternity of Operative Freemasonry. To-day Master and Man are far apart. They have little personal contact. Social welfare work in factories is too much like a sop to the discontented — too much like a form of charity. Men go to their work as if driven, finding no joy in it, shirking it as much as possible. Our ancient Brethren never thought of getting all they could for as little work as possible. The whole idea of using men to make money, instead of using money to make men, is foreign to the genius and history of Masonry. No Mason was regarded as a "hand"; he was a fellow brother — not an animated tool but a human being. There is no hope of peace in the industrial world until this spirit of humanity and fraternity is recovered, restoring the status of labor, and also its high obligation. Masonry did it once; Masonry can help to do it again.
Masonry is an international fraternity. Its members are prepared to travel in foreign countries and work and receive the wages of a Master Mason. Each is enjoined to be loyal to his own country, without hatred to other lands, knowing that other men love their countries as he loves his.
In all the teaching of Masonry there is a recognition of the human race as a family, a brotherhood-a sense of the fact that the good of humanity as a whole does actually exist-and that is the one thing needed to-day. The world is perishing for lack of Brotherhood, and though we have the great ideal on our lips, it has not yet found its way into our hearts and hands.
"Does it make you mad when you read about
Some poor, starved devil who flickered out,
Because he had never a decent chance
In the tangled meshes of circumstance?
If it makes you burn like the fires of sin,
Brother, you are fit for the ranks — fall in!
Does it make you rage when you come to learn
Of a clean souled woman who could not earn
Enough to live, and who fought, but fell
In the cruel struggle and went to hell?
Does it make you seethe with an anger hot?
Brother, we welcome you-come share our lot!
Whoever has blood that will flood his face
At the sight of Beast in the holy place
Whoever has rage for the tyrant's might,
For the powers that prey in the day and night,
Whoever has hate for the ravening Brute
That strips the tree of its goodly fruit;
Whoever knows wrath at the sight of pain,
Of needless sorrow and heedless gain;
Whoever knows bitterness, shame and gall
At thought of the trampled ones doomed to fall;
He is a brother-in soul we know
With brain afire and with soul aglow;
By the sight of his eyes we sense our kin —
Brother, you battle with us — fall in!"