George P. Ellis
Right Thinking Necessary.
Before there can be any right action there must be right thinking based upon
correct knowledge. This type of thinking and action must come from men of
principle and character. There is no progress without righteousness. Men of
principle withstand every assault. Lack of it makes men weak.
In the 63rd Psalm we find the
words, "Because thou hast been my helper, therefore under the shadow of thy
wings will I rejoice". . We need this higher power to guide us as free men.
Freemasonry needs to help build these ideas into the thinking of its
members. The manifold problems facing us today call for the most thoughtful
analysis and then for right action.
We all recognize that
Freemasonry as an organization can not get into political, economic and
social controversies. However, we need real leadership to guide us into
honest, correct and accurate thinking. This thinking must be free from
prejudice and based on honest seeking of truth in every phase of life.
Prejudice is defined as "an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without
just grounds or before sufficient knowledge". How clearly this defines much
of what goes on as thinking. Someone has said that most people do not think;
they merely rearrange their prejudices.
From the book New Strength
for New Leadership by Erwin Haskell Schell I quote the following:
"If democracy is a normal
way of life, it is the men of parts who must provide its maintenance and
protection. The forty hour week will not be for them. Fortunately, they
will not want it."
It goes on further to say:
"Men privileged owe a
responsibility. The principle that one 's mood, no less then one's mind,
should relate harmoniously and constructively to one's effort."
It goes on in another part of
the book to say;
"That the beginning of
wisdom is found in the principle that we are designed for struggle. We
must take an active part in the business of living. Were talents so
employed then a better world would result. When tempted by ease and
indifference, we may remember that the natural leader is obligated to
serge the led."
"If democracy succeeds or
fails, it will succeed or fail at the top. It was de Tocqueville who over
one hundred years ago maintained that democracy in America rested upon the
twin bases of patriotism and religion. We may paraphrase his thought and
say that the continuance of our democratic inspirations, whether of
government, industry, or the professions, will require the presence of a
devoted people and an inspired leadership."
"Such leaders there must be
if the democratic way of life is to remain our way; if our free
institutions are to survive. There is great need for new strength for the
In the Iowa Grand Lodge
Bulletin under the caption "Purposes of Masonry" appeared the following
"The Masonic fraternity
seeks no control over processes of government and the enforcement of the
law and, as an organization, it takes no part in solution of industrial
and social problems except through the influence of its teachings upon the
character and conduct of its members. The primary purposes of Masonry are
to enlighten the mind, arouse the conscience, stimulate the noble and
generous impulses of the human heart. It seeks to promote the best type of
manhood based upon the practice of brotherly love and the Golden Rule.
When these results have been accomplished the mission of Masonry has been
The teachings of Freemasonry
should prepare us for leadership in correct and honest thinking. They should
be leaders of thought.
It will be the purpose of
this discussion to define citizenship and the responsibility of citizenship
in a free or democratic society, and Freemasonry's relation to it.
In the Encyclopedia of
Freemasonry by Mackay under the caption, Civilization and Freemasonry,
appears the following:
"Those who investigate in
the proper spirit the history of Speculative Masonry will be strongly
impressed with the peculiar relations that exist between the history of
Masonry and that of civilization. They will find these facts to be patent;
that Freemasonry has ever been the result of civilization; that in the
most ancient times the spirit of Masonry and the spirit of civilization
have always gone together; that the progress of both has been with equal
strides; that where there has been no appearance of civilization there has
been no trace of Masonry; and, finally, that whenever Masonry has existed
in any of its forms, there it has been surrounded and sustained by
civilization, which social condition it in turn elevated and purified
"We then arrive at these
conclusions, namely, that Speculative Masonry is a result of civilization,
for it exists in no savage or barbarous state of society but has always
appeared with the advent in any country of a condition of civilization
grown with its growth and strengthened with its strength and, in return,
has proved, by a reactionary influence, a potent instrument in
extending, elevating and refining the civilization which gave it birth
advancing its moral, intellectual, and religious character.
Citizenship. One definition
which I found in a standard encyclopedia, defines citizenship in part as
"Citizen (Lat. civis,
citizen), in its most general sense an individual member of a political
society, or state; one who owes allegiance to, and may lawfully demand
protection from, the government. The more general sense of the term
'citizen' is more closely in accordance with the original meaning of the
word. In the free republics of classical antiquity, the term 'citizen'
signified, not a resident of a town, but a free, governing member of the
state, just as the term civitas, from which we derive our 'city',
signified, not merely a local municipality (urbs), but the state at large.
The Greek idea of citizenship is expressed by Aristotle, who declared a
citizen to be one to whom belonged the right of participating both in the
deliberative or legislative and the judicial functions of the political
community of which he was a member. The right was jealously guarded, and
was rarely conferred on those of foreign birth. In Rome there were two
classes of citizens one that had a share in the sovereign power, i.e.,
were capable of attaining the highest offices of state; the other
possessing only the private rights of citizenship. These, however,
included the privilege of voting in the public assembly. There, as in the
United States of America and some other modern states, citizenship, though
usually acquired by birth, might be attained by naturalization or special
grant of the State."
In his treatise on
citizenship, W. L. Sheldon states:
"The status of a citizen
implies the existence of
- A political body established to promote the general welfare and
collective, as well as individual, rights of those composing it.
- Individuals who have established, or submitted themselves to the
dominion of that political body.
- Such benefit from, or participation in, the administration of that
political body by the individuals composing it, that they may be
designated as citizens, and not as mere subjects of a despot or an
absolute monarch under whom they have no voice in administration.
"The same authority above
quoted defines a citizen as 'a member of a nation or sovereign state,
especially a republic; one who owes allegiance to a government and is
entitled to protection from it'. That definition is broad enough to
make every subject a citizen of the government to which he owes
allegiance, and from which he receives protection; but the term citizen,
as it is commonly understood, implies membership of a political body in
which the individual enjoys popular liberty to a greater or less degree.
"The word 'citizen' is never
used of the people in a monarchy, since it involves an idea not enjoyed by
subjects, to wit: the inherent right to partake in government.
Citizenship. Freedom and liberty mean responsibility. In a pamphlet
published by The Foundation for Economic Education written by Betty Knowles
Hunt the following statement appears:
"The answer, and the only
answer, is for us to educate ourselves to the responsibilities as well as
to the benefits of freedom. Perhaps, as a people, we are not morally
strong enough to be free. If that is the case, then we shall certainly
lose our freedom, and it will not matter much what 'ism' supplants
Americanism. But this will not prove that our free way of life was not the
best way. It will only prove that we were not worthy of it."
In a study conducted by the
Schenectady Gazette it was learned that one out of two did not know the
answers to the questions, "Who is the city manager? Who is your
representative to Congress? Who makes the laws for the city?" One out of
four could not, answer the question, "In what ward do you reside?" To the
question, "If you had a son, would you want him to enter politics?" 57%
replied they would not. And to the question, "Do you think a man can enter
politics and remain honest?" one in three answered with an unqualified "no".
Three days after the initial poll stories, published in two installments,
the Gazette bluntly headed a story: "it is your business! Government is your
business; politics is your business, most of all, voting is your business".
Mr. Cameron of the Ford Motor
Company some years ago defining democracy in a broadcast said, "A
personality poised in moral, intellectual and social balance is a
personality approaching maturity, and when you multiply it by multitudes you
inevitably have Democracy... Democracy is not a system it is a bloom
and quality of public character… It is not the product of political
organization… Democracy is produced by national character and by nothing
Elton Mayo in his book, The
Social Problem of an Industrial Civilization says:
cannot be effectively exercised by a society internally divided by group
hostilities and hatreds. There is grave danger that sheer ignorance of
administrative methods in the political and industrial leaders of the
democracies may give rise to increasing disabilities of cooperation.
does not work satisfactorily for the general good in a society that
exhibits extreme difference in the material standards of living of its
various social groups. This prerequisite is especially true when the more
lowly classes work very hard for a maintenance that, is actually
insufficient for their organic and social needs. History abounds in
instances: the France of the later eighteenth century or England of the
early nineteenth. Wisdom dictates a sufficiently high standard of material
living throughout society as a prerequisite of democratic institutions."
Therefore, with freedom comes
responsibility. There is much discussion going on at the present time
regarding a guaranteed annual wage. Under the feudal system and under
slavery in the United States there was a guaranteed wage. When men became
free and had the right to pick and choose their own occupation and to work
as if and when they pleased they assumed certain risks.
Labor is demanding the right
to share in the profits. They have not been willing to assume any of the
risks. Wages have been increased in industries of a seasonal character such
as the building industry on the grounds that they need to receive
extraordinarily high wages during the busy season to partially make up for
the seasons when they are not employed. The unemployment compensation phases
of the social security program have been introduced to partially cushion the
shock of unemployment. In their demands for a guaranteed annual wage labor
wishes also to continue these other benefits.
There has been much done by
certain industries to level out the peaks and fill in the valleys by many
different programs of levelling out production. Much more can be done along
these lines. When considering the matter of guaranteed annual wage, it is
necessary to know all the factors that do influence correct and accurate
thinking on this question.
The progress of society as a
whole is by the accomplishments of its individual members.
John Stuart Mills said, "A
State which dwarfs its men in order that they may be docile instruments in
its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no
great thing can really be accomplished.
There have been two
antagonistic trends gaining momentum in American.
- Trend sway from exploitation of geographical frontiers to exploration
of economic frontiers the advance of science and technology.
- Rise of Statism - over-regulation, control regimentation.
The great dangers of the latter
are limitation of scientific advance and stagnation.
Beyond the horizon are new
frontiers economic frontiers. What is required of a person for fitness to
cope with the problems is character even before brains. Trained brains and
trained hands must learn to think straight and quick as our forefathers had
to shoot straight and quicker than the other fellows in the development of
Difficult to do right
Thinking. In these confused times it is very difficult to do right
thinking because we do not have the correct facts presented to us in a
manner that will enable us to arrive at sound judgments. For political
purposes opposing political parties attempt to discredit the other. In this
process much bad information is fed to the public by means of the radio, the
public platforms and the printed word. These arguments are set forth
irrespective of their soundness from an economic or social point of view. To
be a good citizen one must be in possession of accurate knowledge and be
willing to face truth. One must be willing to face realities irrespective of
which side of the political fence he may be on.
There are also those who
represent some ideology or ism and present to the public in a very plausible
manner half-truths which mislead the citizen. Many times these proposed
reforms are based on fairly sound basic causes. The difficulty is that the
cure in many instances is worse than the disease. The intelligent citizen is
one who will follow the entire problem from basic cause to ultimate effect.
Clever programs and planned
economies will not make real the social order we desire unless humanity is
given the vision to see and then the will to bring it about.
To find happiness,
contentment and peace is the ultimate ambition of man. Much of the demands
on Management by Labor is this almost unconscious seeking. Hours and wages
demands is only a means of expressing their dissatisfaction.
Albert Jay Nock in his book,
Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, says:
"That in our society the
purview of legal, religious and ethical sanctions was monstrously over
extended. They had usurped control over an area of conduct much larger
than right reason would assign them. On the other hand, I saw that the
area of conduct properly answerable to the sanctions of taste and manners
was correspondingly attenuated. One could easily understand how this had
come about. Law is the creature of politics, and the general course of
politics, as among others Mr. Jefferson, Franklin and John Adams had
clearly perceived, is always determined by an extremely low order of self
interest and self aggrandisement… Again, when Christianity became
organized it immediately took on a political character radically affecting
its institutional concept of religion and its institutional concept of
morals; and the same tendencies observable in secular politics at once set
in upon the politics of organized Christianity. Thus the area of conduct
in which men were free to recognise the sanctions of taste and manners was
still further straitened."
"The consequence was that
the one set of sanctions atrophied, and the other set broke down; thus
leaving human conduct bereft of any sanctions at all, save those of
expedience… When the sanctions of law, religion and morals broke down
through persistent misapplication to matters of conduct quite outside
their purview, the sanctions of taste and manners had become too frail and
anaemic to be of any practical good."
The problem of getting over a
lesson so people will read understandingly is one of the great problems of
Mr. Nook in his book says;
"As I said, the fact that
few literate persons can read is easily determinable by experiment. What
first put me on the track of it was a remark by one of my old professors.
He said that there were people so incompetent, so given to reading with
their eyes and their emotions instead of with their brains, that they
would accuse the Psalmist of atheism because he had written, 'The fool
hath said in his heart, There is no God'."
In an address by Virgil
Jordan, President of the National Industrial Conference Board at the
Citizens' Conference on Government Management in June 1939 he said:
"The current philosophy of
public spending which prevails in practically every country is in fact a
new intellectual and emotional offshoot of a much more pervasive and
powerful primitive impulse, which I call the superstition of the State the
belief in the magical power of government and which owes its resurgence
largely to the World War."
"The most profound
consequence of that catastrophe the most devastating in history was not
the destruction of life and wastage of wealth, but the demoralization of
individual character, the destruction of personal self reliance,
independence, and integrity, among great masses of men. The corollary of
this spiritual retrogression has not merely been economic chaos,
instability, stagnation and depression, or international conflict, but an
enormous expansion in the power of the State and increased dependence upon
it. The universal submergence of the individual by the State, the
replacement of the spirit of humanism by Statism, and the reversion to
feudal conceptions and principles, have already gone so far that in some
countries the very existence of the human personality is denied, except as
a part and for the purposes of the State..... In its very essence Statism
is a social retrogression, a. creative devolution, a return to an earlier
order of life..... 0ur economic system is a living organism, not a slot
machine ,which will yield an inexhaustible supply of chewing gum so long
as pennies are put into it, and certainly it will never yield several
pieces for each penny unless someone is cheating. Behind every dollar
spent by anybody government or citizen there must be a definite amount of
real work done by somebody if the dollar is to be worth anything. To get
this work done is the ultimate and inescapable problem of the State and
society. The plain fact is that, despite the collection and printing and
spending of billions of dollars by government, we are not getting this
work done, and the obvious conclusion is that something else is needed to
get it done."
The over-emphasis on the
purely economic side of life has led us to many unwise experiments. The
demand for social and economic security is the desire to be free from fear
and anxiety freedom from uncertainty and doubt. We do need confidence
assurance. However, freedom is more precious than material things.
No university calls attention
to the fact that material provision is only one of the duties of
civilization, the other being the maintenance of cooperative living.
People are Worried. It
has been found that every one thousand employees will each year show twenty
disabilities due to diseases of the nervous system and from the general
population where industry must draw its manpower it has also been found that
7% of all presumably healthy people exhibit symptoms of nervousness and
neurasthenia. Much of this is due to worry and fear. Under this nervous
strain we are likely to give up valuable liberties for a little social
In our relations with the
employed worker we find that imaginary grievances are more difficult to deal
with than real ones. "Labor movements live on feelings of grievances."
Elton Mayo in his book, The
Social Problem of an Industrial Civilization says:
"Social skill shows itself
as a capacity to receive communications from others, and to respond to the
attitudes and ideas of others in such fashion as to promote congenial
participation in a common task."
"It is a short step from
friendship to tolerance to distrust and hatred when the normal social
The great task for those in
the position of leadership is to bring about better understanding between
Business Partially to
Blame. Business has only itself to blame for much of the present
legislative trend. All too often it has treated labor as a commodity to be
bought and sold without regard to essential human values. The human values
will not be denied. Businessmen must choose whether they themselves will
shoulder the responsibility or whether they will force government to do so.
If we are to save our democratic way of life me must remove the causes that
threaten to injure and even kill it. Democracy is not self-sustaining.
Selfishness will defeat it. It will only endure if we respect the other
We will again have the old
problem of unemployment. How many of the unemployed are due to the
transition from an old declining industry to a new one? What can we do to
readapt men of skill to find their places in the new industries? How should
we train our young people to find their places in our economic and social
life where they can make their greatest contribution based upon their
aptitudes and talents?
With the development of
machines for handling the heavy burdensome work of industry common labor is
not needed to the degree that it formerly was. Everyone to find a place in
industry must have at least some skill. We must train men to fill these
Management is continuing to
introduce machines to reduce the number of men necessary in our production
processes. This presents a social problem that will either be solved by
intelligent business methods or we must look for more and more government
The cost of distribution is
an unsolved problem in our economic system. Production costs must be reduced
to make more goods available to more people. The cost of distribution must
be reduced in order that the costs added after the goods are produced are
not so great as to make them prohibitive to many people in the lower income
groups. It is a social responsibility to see that goods are furnished to
satisfy the needs of mankind. Business is a means to an end and it can only
justify itself and only justify the system under which it works to the
extent that it is efficient and does serve mankind to the greatest extent
possible. Will we wait for a law to force us to correct these problems or
will we undertake to solve them ourselves? It is a social and patriotic
responsibility for business to be efficient. It is equally a social and
patriotic responsibility for labor to produce and cooperate.
Economic pioneering has just begun. It is more challenging and more
rewarding than the conquest of a continent, because it is a test of
intellectual manhood as the earlier pioneering was a test of physical
maturity and stamina. A good citizen is one who will become properly
informed and then find the place where he can make the greatest contribution
in the settlement of the many economic and social problems which are facing
mankind today. Industry is the key to tomorrow. Only production can lick the
problems of security. Then with proper distribution many of our present
problems may be solved.
We must keep opportunity open
for everyone who is willing to make his contribution. We cannot keep alive a
system of free enterprise if many of our people are to find it impossible to
find a place in the system where they can work and produce.
Selfishness under any
System. We find as much selfishness under socialistic and communistic
systems as we find under the so-called capitalistic system. The type of
system that is employed will not determine its success. We often times find
in such altruistic groups as the church, philanthropy and education as much
selfishness as we find in our economic activities. The greed for power is
often - times greater and more potent than the greed for money. Because of
this selfishness we often find that many of the programs which are
undertaken to correct existing evils become a greater evil than those they
sought to cure. In most instances the cure has become worse than the
disease. It is not necessary for someone to have less because someone has
more. Each should have the opportunity to create something for himself. The
world needs such constructive people. Our constant desire should be to see
how much we can give, not how much we can get.
Need for Research.
There is great need for a thorough research into all of the problems facing
our economic life. We need to study the human values involved. We should
have the courage to face realities and solve the problems on the basis of
sound economic and social principles rather than for some political or other
purpose. Some of the economic problems we are facing and which need to be so
- Labor relations.
- Adaptation of the machine technique to richer individual life..
- Control of dislocations of employment.
- Control of relations of business and government in a so called
- Business and political leadership of the highest order.
- The world of inventions.
Trained hands must have the
same dignity as trained minds. There is a definite shortage of skill and
creative mastery of tools that marked the first great economic development
of the country. Yet every parent thinks that his child should have a white
collar job or be a member of one of the professions. Unless this type of job
is the kind where the young person can best serve mankind, his aptitudes and
skills should be directed to that place in the economic system where he can
make the greatest contribution.
Need for Cooperation.
There is a great need for cooperation between capital, labor, consumer,
government, school and church. Each has its place and responsibility. Each
has so many unsolved problems that no one has the right to criticize the
other until he has cleaned up his own doorstep. Each group has made
mistakes. Each must now try to serve mankind in his own field.
Business vs. Government.
Business may have bungled its task so as to shake the foundations of the
capitalistic system but depend upon it the bungling of government will be
far worse. We must choose which it will be, industrial self-government or
government of business by politicians.
Labor Needs New Leadership.
Labor needs new leadership. Much of the difficulty between management and
labor is due not to basic problems but much of it is caused by self-seeking
racketeering so-called labor leaders. Some of the grievances of labor are
real. Many are not.
The Church. I am sorry
to say it but the church has not met its full opportunity. Christianity has
not been able to present a united front because it has allocated itself to
become weak as a leader due to arguments on doctrines and technicalities.
The church has been unduly critical. It has pitted the poor against the
rich, the employer, and employee. I think neither of these is Christian. The
church needs to preach - the Golden Rule.
Current Sifting and
Testing. Current sifting and testing and re-directing of economic
thought has given men of leadership a new role and a vast opportunity, it is
no less than a place of leadership in developing a better concept of social
responsibility - not socialism but a social responsibility based upon
Christian ideals. In these most difficult days we need a real appraisal of
the real values of life.
The great trouble with us is
that we have not reflected upon our experience. We do not think through the
problem. We allow our thoughts to vanish before they are completed.
There is no industry or
business without social problems. They are not so much concerned about
things to do. The problem is what will be the social and economic effects of
these changes. What we need today is an adequate science of society,
scientific processes of analysis and workable solutions.
New Appraisal of Values
Needed. We need a new appraisal of values.
If there is any meaning in
life, if life has a purpose, human personality is the real value. If not,
then all this struggle and grief is not worthwhile. If we believe in a God
our task is to build. a life. There are moral laws in the universe. Every
activity in the world ;should be directed towards the development of great
lives, great human personalities. Under the Christian tradition there is no
place for dictators. We need leaders which we pick to guide us for a while.
We do not create these leaders to be supreme rulers. There is no place for
class in Christianity or in Free Masonry. We must eliminate selfishness
under any system. The Golden Rule is the only hope.
If through Freemasonry our
minds have been enlightened, our consciences aroused, noble and generous
impulses of the heart have been stimulated and if as Freemasons we seek to
promote the best type of manhood based upon the practice of brotherly love
and the Golden Rule, we can give effective leadership in the solution of
these many problems. We should help keep the sense of real values straight.
Freemasons are "Men of Parts". Men privileged owe a responsibility. Will
Freemasonry meet the challenge?
The above address was
delivered in Edmonton on September 2nd,
and in Calgary on September 3rd, 1947,
at the invitation of the Grand Master of Alberta,
MW Bro. A. D. Cumming.