WORLD PEACE THROUGH BROTHERHOOD

By Frederic L. Milliken

 

Before we can talk about brotherhood we must talk about false brotherhood.  Before we can talk about peace we must talk about war.

 September 1862, the Civil War battle of South Mountain in Maryland and a Union soldier writes in his diary:

 

“I was passing through some very dense underbrush, giving water from my canteen to the wounded, and assisting the ‘stretcher-bearers’ to take the worst cases from the fields, when someone sitting against a tree uttered in a clear, distinct voice the never-to-be-forgotten words accompanying the sign of distress among Masons.  In a moment I was by his side, with my hand grasping his, proffering any aid in my power.  A drink of cold water from my canteen was his first request, and then I bathed his wounds with the remainder of the water I had.  He was shot through the right leg and also through the shoulder, the latter wound being very painful.  I tore away the skirts of his coat and with my handkerchief bound up his wound to stop the blood, for he was quite weak and evidently bleeding to death.”

“When I had succeeded in stopping the blood from flowing he seemed to revive and in a nervous manner asked me if I knew who I was attending to so kindly.  I told him I did not have the honor of knowing and really cared very little to know as long as he was a Mason.  He replied in a very desponding manner, ‘I am Col. C______of the  ____________ South Carolina Regiment, instead of being a Union officer as supposed.’”

“I replied that I was happy to learn his name and as it was so very dark I could not tell the color of uniforms and knew not rebel from Union wounded.”

“’I will call the stretcher-bearers and have you taken to our hospital,’ I added.”

“’What me!’ said the rebel officer, speaking as if taken wholly by surprise.  ‘Yes sir, YOU,’ said I emphatically.  ‘I am not entitled to any such treatment,’ said he in a very decisive manner.”

“’You are entitled to all I can do for you, and to the kindest care and treatment our field hospitals afford,’ said I, ‘because you have proved to me you are a Freemason.’”

Later in the hospital this exchange occurred:

“’Please tell me for what reason you have been so kind to me?”’

“I replied, “Because you are a Freemason – yes, a Royal Arch Mason.”’

“’I have taken in the old Granite State the same oaths that you have in the sunny Palmetto State, and we are therefore companions until death.  Nothing on earth can separate us, or our attachment for each other.  In war as well as in peace we are still the same.  While thrones and republics are tumbling, and the world changing day by day, we, as Masons, are now and ever will be the same without change.  I love and respect you as a brother, and as you would peril your own life to save mine, I ask you if I have done any more than was my duty to you as a Royal Arch Mason?”’

“He gave way to considerable emotion as this reply was made, but added with sincere feeling:”

“’But I have been fighting against you, and all such as you for a year, and aiding in all ways in my power to kill you.”’

“’Then go and sin no more,’ I added, ‘for this you should feel ashamed as a Mason.  It is your country and not your State you have sworn to support and be a good citizen in, and you have been trying to subvert the best government ever framed by man, and blessed by Almighty God.  It has done you no injury, but has watched over and protected you, as faithfully as a brother Mason.  It has protected your life and property, and you owe it a debt of gratitude.  Return, then to your allegiance, and be as true to your country as you have been false.  It is your duty as a Mason.”’

“With one hand in mine and the other on his heart he said: ‘I swear by the God who has so kindly made you the instrument for saving my life, that if these wounds do not prove mortal, I will never be found in our army again.’  And turning to the surgeon, who was just then coming up, ‘I will never cease to love the flag I honored in boyhood, until we three, or three such as we, meet together in heaven.”’

The author adds this postscript to the story:

“In the summer of 1864, while many of our officers were under our own artillery fire in Charleston, and our privates in prison were being starved in a systematic manner, which will stand on the pages of history as the most atrocious crime of modern times, a citizen of Charleston might have been seen, going at all hours and in all places to these prisons and slave-pens where our soldiers were confined, and giving them the best that Charleston market afforded.  All the delicacies were faithfully given to the sick or dying soldier, and surgical aid was often called at his own expense.  He would often sit all night by the side of some sick or dying soldier, and watch over him with the tenderness of a mother.  His countenance became familiar to all imprisoned in Charleston, and he was often asked why he dared perform such duties, being a native South Carolinian.  He never gave a satisfactory reply.  All imprisoned in Charleston will remember him as a ministering angel, a nameless hero, who was wounded in the right leg and severely wounded in the shoulder.”  *(1A)

Edward S Ellis writes about the Battle of Cold Mountain June 1st to 3rd, 1864 where in a twenty minute span soldiers were dying at the rate of 500 a minute.

“One of the most gallant of the Confederate leaders, who was barely 27 years of age, was General Robert F. Hoke.  He commanded a division at Cold Harbor, and had received his commission as major-general less than six weeks previous.  Directly in front of his lines lay scores of Union dead and wounded.  Loss of blood always causes a horrible thirst, and the cries of the sufferers were more than the Confederates could bear.  Scores ran from the ranks, and kneeling among the poor fellows shared the water in their canteens with them.  They had been thus engaged only a few minutes when the Federals opened fire on them not understanding the meaning of the charity.  The bullets whistled so hotly about them they had to hurry back.  General Hoke was so indignant that he issued an order forbidding his men going out of his lines.”

“In the lull that followed he lay down at the foot of a tree to rest, for the day was insufferably hot, and he like his men was exhausted.  While lying thus, two of his men approached, and saluting, said: ‘General, a wounded Yankee is lying out in front and he wanted to know whether there are any Masons among us.  We told him there were, whereupon he gave the sign of distress and begged us to go out and bring him into our lines.  We replied that we had been fired upon while helping his companions, and because of that you had issued strict orders against our passing outside.”

“General Hoke roused up and looked keenly at the two men, ‘Are you Masons?’ he asked”

“They told him they were.”

“’Do you know that it is almost certain death for you to try to give help to that poor fellow?”’

“’We do; but he has made Masonic appeal to us, and we only await your permission to try to bring him in.”’

“’Then go in God’s name.  I do not stand in the way of such courage as that.”’

“As eagerly as if rushing to meet a returning brother the brave men ran toward the Federal who lay helpless on the earth.  They had hardly started when the enemy, still failing to understand the meaning of the act, opened fire on them.  They did not falter or show hesitation.  Everyone expected to see one or both fall dead at every step, but they reached the sufferer, coolly held a can to his lips, and raised his limp body between them, walked deliberately back with their burden.  Neither received a scratch.” *(1B)

The most well known Civil War story has been memorialized in a monument erected at Gettysburg by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.  It is called the “Friend To Friend” monument.  It is the story of two friends and Brothers commanding forces at Gettysburg, Union Major General Winfield S. Hancock and Confederate Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead.  Both were wounded in battle but Armistead most seriously.  As he went down Armistead gave the Masonic sign of distress.  Brother Union Captain Henry A. Bingham, a member of Hancock’s staff, saw the distress signal and came to his aid.  Armistead, knowing he was dying, asked to see his old friend Hancock.  Told that was not possible he handed over to Captain Bingham his Bible, Masonic Jewels and other possessions and asked they be given to General Hancock.  This monument stands as a reminder that Freemasonry stands as a Brotherhood undivided.

Not all the stories of illustrating the mystic tie between combatants comes from the Civil War.  While doing research for another paper about Native American Freemasonry  I ran across a well documented story of the Mowhawk Chief Joseph Brant. Chief Brant was the first Native American known to have been made a Mason in a regularly and duly constituted Lodge.  He was made so on a visit to London in 1776.  Later in the same year he is found to be fighting on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War at the Battle of Cedars, 30 miles north of Montreal.  The Mohawks in battle wounded and captured a certain Captain McKinstry whereupon they tied him to a tree which they surrounded with brushwood.  As they were preparing to light the fire Captain McKinstry made the appeal of a Freemason.  Brant recognized the appeal and ordered him released.  Subsequently he was turned over to a British Lodge which arranged his repatriation.

On a more humorous note in the same war one of the Colonists captured in the British General Howe’s winning New York was a certain Freemason named Joseph Burnham.  Burnham managed to escape fleeing on foot.  He sought refugee on the planks which formed the ceiling of a local Masonic Lodge.  Unfortunately the planks did not long support his weight and he came crashing down into the Lodge room where the British were holding a Communication.  After signs of recognition were exchanged the hat was passed for Brother Burnham and he was secretly escorted to the Jersey shore and released by the British Masons.

Stories such as these were harder to find in the 20th century.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that America was often fighting despotic dictators who would not allow Freemasonry to live under their rule. But there is one more Civil War story worth noting.

On the day after Gettysburg, July 4, 1863 Vicksburg after weeks of siege surrendered to General Grant. An Ordnance Officer aboard a Colonial ship, Freemason and Knight Templar John Edwin Mason was ordered by Grant to sail his ship into Vicksburg  and participate in the surrender. He recounts this story:

“’Whom have I the honor of addressing,’ said a very handsome officer in rebel uniform.  I bowed courteously and handed him my card.  He took my hand quickly and gave me the grip of an Entered Apprentice, adroitly following this by the sign of a Master Mason.  He was a staff officer of Lieut. Gen. Pemberton.  I took him aside and found by a thorough examination that he was a Knight Templar.  He soon introduced me to a score or two of other staff officers for whom he could vouch, and I soon found myself surrounded by a crowd of Brother Masons, all dressed in rebel uniform, whom we had been fighting for months.”

“The sensation was a novel one, and it was aggravated by the courteous and fraternal spirit exhibited on every side by my rebel brother Masons. They showed clearly, that while they hated me as a Yankee, they loved me with true fraternal tenderness as a Mason. I was thunderstruck.  The spectacle came near bringing tears to my eyes, and my heart warmed with friendship toward them after I had been so long preparing the deadly missiles of destruction to kill them with as an Ordnance officer.  They told me how they had been living on mule meat and split peas, and hardly enough of these to sustain life the last week of the siege.  I resolved at once that what I had on the boat should be theirs.  The captain of the boat had just got a fresh lot of provisions from Cincinnati and also a box of genuine Catawba wine and plenty of ice.  So I invited the entire lot of rebel officers, who were Masons, to go down on board the boat and dine with me.  They looked somewhat astonished at my invitation but gladly accepted it, and thirty-two went with me to the boat.  While dinner was being prepared I got together a few Union officers and several from the Navy whom I knew to be Masons to enjoy the scene.  Some of these I had known in boyhood days in far distant New England.  Officers in blue and grey sat down together in the long saloon of the steamboat and we had a real Fourth-of-July dinner of the substantials of life and many delicacies, ending with a huge box of Catawba wine and ice, (which these brothers in grey had not seen for two years) and all enjoyed it.  Toasts were drank and responded to with great éclat.  Every toast proposed by a brother in blue would be responded to by a brother in grey and vice versa.  No toast or sentiment was uttered to offend the pride or position of the other, and the good breeding exhibited in this respect, showed that all were educated gentlemen, as well as Masons.  No reference was made to the political opinions of the other, and the time and occasion was kept out of view.  Each vied with the other in courtesy and etiquette.  Masonry was the theme first and last.  Each, however, pledged the other to guide, honor and protect them if ever found wandering as pilgrims, which was easily understood to mean prisoners instead of pilgrims.  After much wit and pleasantry, and many speeches made, and toasts drank, and congratulations exchanged the fifth libation was drank and all adjourned (for it was then dark) to the Masonic Hall in Vicksburg, where an impromptu Lodge was organized, with a Union officer as acting W.M.  and rebel officer Senior Warden, and so alternating through the whole list.  The work was of the kind that gods might envy and angels imitate.  All expressed it to be the happiest hour of their lives.  It was fully believed that earth never afforded a more striking scene than this.  The lamb and the lion had lain down together --- the sword had been beaten into Masonic jewels that were glittering before the world as positive proof that the great day of triumph had come, when enemies even in civil war had cast off their hatred, and embraced each other with true love and affection, because the bonds of Masonry were stronger than all others.  Bigotry, prejudice and malice were all forgotten.  In the sincere spirit of Masonry we met on the level and parted on the square.  Earth has no greater joy than this.  The Supreme Architect of the universe looked down upon us and blessed us.  Only Masons can truly appreciate this meeting under such interesting circumstances.  The world can never know the pleasure we derived from it.  But this same cold and selfish world can see what a wonderful power of attraction brought together, and must learn that this cohesive power is Freemasonry.  Its benign influences has made many Union officers happy when in southern dungeons and prisons, and finally led them out of captivity at an early day.  These same bonds that bind us all together in Freemasonry united the hand of General Grant with his brother Mason, Lieut. General Pemberton, who was his guest that day.  This will explain what has been incomprehensible heretofore about the surrender of Vicksburg.  The future historian will take due notice thereof and govern himself accordingly.  And when the good old flag shall wave over every foot of seceded territory, it will be discovered that Freemasonry has borne a prominent part in these times of war, as well as at a time when ‘Peace hath her victories, no less than war.’” *(1C)

The author is in error.  Grant was not a Freemason although his father and two brothers were.

So tell me what is the secret ingredient here?  What makes a man willing to kill another until he sees that the other man is a Mason?  Then both drop their weapons and embrace.  What makes bitter enemies one minute be the best of friends the next?  What is that something special?  What is the mystic tie?

Well let me ask you another question.  Where is a man first made a Mason?  Yes in his heart!  And it is this bonding of hearts that makes the brotherhood.  You have I am sure heard of the concept of having a soulmate.  My lovely wife Kathy is a soulmate.  And so is my best friend Ron. Neither of them are Masons, however.  But I have at least a hundred more soulmates, and they are all Brothers.  And they all can see into my very heart and soul and I can see into theirs.  There are no pretensions, no airs, no games, no spin.  To quote Bill O’Reilly we are all in the no spin zone.  The truth is laid bare and open before us and our hearts are melded into one common purpose, one meeting of minds, all the while calling forth our more noble aspects.

 

In a Short Talk Bulletin put out by the Masonic Service Association of North America, titled “Why Men Love Freemasonry”, the Old Tiler says this:

“Freemasonry is loved by men because it strikes deep into the human heart, and supplies the answer to the question, the food for the hunger, which the tongue cannot express.” *(2)

On my last birthday my wife gave me a book titled “The New Revelations” by Neal Donald Walsch, not a Masonic work.   This is a continuation of his series of books that are a conversation with God. I had read Walsch’s first four or five books but had lost touch with him lately.  I started reading the book when soon BANG! It hit me like a bolt of lightening,  --  this author is talking about Freemasonry!!  Well not in so many words but in ways that opened my eyes and my mind to why we have been doing so poorly lately.  Listen to this:

“Life is a decision conveyer.  It conveys to the world the decisions that you’ve made about yourself.  It tells people what you’ve decided about who you are, and who they are, and why you are here, and why you think they are here, and what life itself is about.”

“These decisions have greater impact than you could ever guess.  They touch people in ways that go far beyond what you might have imagined.”

“Yet it does not begin by trying to change the world.  It begins by seeking to change the self.  Change the self and your inner world changes.  And when your inner world changes, the outer world that you touch changes, little by little.  And when the outer world that you touch changes, the world that it touches changes, and the world that it touches.  Outward and outward and outward this spreads, like a ripple in a pond.”

“You may think that people do not look to you, but they do.  More people than you know.  Everyone, in fact, whose life you touch is touched by your example.  You are giving them data about life.  You are telling them how it is, how things operate, how things are, and they will emulate you, they will copy you, they will take your data into their world and make it a part of their own lives.” *(3A)

So who will be touched by you?  Your family will!  Your friends will? Your church members will!!  Your co-workers will!!  Your neighbors will!!

And this is precisely where post WII Masonry has gotten off track. Let me ask does the external change the internal or does the internal change the external?  Does a Mason change and grow from the inside out or from the outside in?  Does the outer world make a better man or does a Man make himself better inside and then change the outside world for the better?

Freemasonry today is out trying to change the world, trying to get noticed by the works it does for others, trying to make a Mason by what he does not what he is. If we want to capture the hearts and minds of society then we must first capture our own hearts and minds.  We need to turn this whole thing inwards not outwards.

Let me ask you another question.  What do we call ourselves as people?  I mean the furry animals running around our houses are called dogs or cats.  What are we called?  That’s right human beings!  We are human beings not human doings!  A human being is about being human not doing human.  Current Freemasonry is Masonry doing.  It seeks to change the world first with community action and big PR and then hopes some of those good works rub off on the character of a Brother.  But we have the cart before the horse. Masonry is introspection.  It is building the spiritual Temple within. It’s not Child Identification Programs, blood drives, scholarships, fund raisers, drug and alcohol abuse support, fish frys, marching in parades, health care. We have “Shrinerized” our Blue Lodges!

Theologian Dr. Kenneth Boa said this:

“Being and doing are clearly interrelated, but the biblical order is critical: what we do should flow out of who we are not the other way around.  Otherwise our worth and identity are determined by achievements and accomplishments, and when we stop performing, we cease to be valuable.  When people answer the question ‘Who are you?’ by what they do, the world has a way of responding, ‘so what have you done lately?’” *(4)

Once again the words of Neale Donald Walsch:

“When what you are doing is a reflection of what you are being, rather than an attempt to create what you wish you were being, you will know that you have produced lasting change in yourself.  This is what produces lasting change in the world.”

“Remember what was said earlier.  You cannot do peaceful, you can only be peaceful.  You cannot do loving, you can only be loving.  You cannot do unified, you can only be unified.”

“Seek, then, to shift your state of being.  Do not seek first to change the world, seek first to change the self.”

“When you achieve that, your actions will automatically change.” *(3B)

Let me add you cannot do Masonry, you can only be Masonry.  You cannot DO Masonry, you can only BE Masonry.  YOU CANNOT DO MASONRY, YOU CAN ONLY BE MASONRY!!

This is the secret of Freemasonry that our grandfathers and great grandfathers in the Craft knew. You don’t need Institutionalized Charity, community action, bumper stickers that say “ 2 B 1 Ask 1”, Masonic billboards, theatre advertisements, airplane banners or clowns in little cars.  You don’t need to market Freemasonry.  Our fraternity has been co-opted by media centric marketing politicians

First we change the inner self.  We make a man a Mason.  We instruct him, we teach him, we educate him and then he goes forth into the world living his Freemasonry, as one who has learned to subdue the passions, who is kind, honest, a gentle man who is known for his individual helping hand.  Masonry is a way of life!  And when the public experiences the heart and soul of this good Brother they may comment, “What makes him such a good guy?”  And the answer will come back, “He is a Freemason.” No need for a market strategy, Brothers are walking advertising.  This is how Freemasonry grew and filled its Lodges in yesteryear  and in the process attracted the leaders of society to its ranks.

Freemasonry is a spiritual journey, a journey of learning and living and what a Freemason does is a result of how his heart and soul have been touched by the virtues of the Craft.  We have lost the art of just being a Mason, just living the noble life Masonic virtues teach us.  We have instead substituted a methodology whereby we must demonstrate through massive programs which seek to better the world that we are internally good and noble men.  By this process we have neglected the enrichment of our inner selves, our souls to the point that Masonry has become money and numbers driven.  We have SHRINERIZED our Lodges and we are dying.  We are perceived as “phonies” when our charity to mankind is called Masonic Awareness.

I keep hearing this mantra repeated over and over again to justify the corruption of Freemasonry: -- “No one knows us.  No one knows who we are.  We must go out into the community and do community activism so we will be noticed.”  POPPYCOCK!  BALDERDASH!  Listen to what Wor. Bro. Paul J. Pinel says in “A Fourth Part Of A Circle”, dictionary issue part one:

“In order to understand Masonry, one must look at it, not just with an open mind but with an open heart and a willingness to see, with the mind’s eye, one’s own inner self.  If you are looking for a high speed link to an understanding of Masonry forget it.  You have to commit to it, embrace it, build upon it and live it.  You really have to let Masonry, MOULD YOU.  Let it into your every day life.” *(5)

Neal Donald Walsch in talking about Gandhi says this:

“First he attained a state of being.  This is work that he did from within.  Then, and only then, did his outward ‘doing’ become the kind of ‘doing’ that changed the world.”

“He did not achieve a state of being as a result of what he was doing.  What he was doing reflected the state of being he had achieved.” *(3C)

Why is this important and what does it have to do with World Peace?  If we are lights to the world as transformed men rather than community activists trying to change the world before we have made that change inside ourselves, then we will spread peace and harmony and brotherly love and affection across this planet. If Masonry is a way of life and we live it and practice it in the world around us then we are a light to the world, for Masons practicing Masonry are peaceful, law-abiding, gentle, kind, honest, noble men who only desire to live in peace and harmony with the world.  The greatness which awaits Masonry in this era is not one of exploration and discovery but one as a peacemaker and unifier.  Freemasonry can do what no other government or alliance or the UN can do.  It can unite men of every, race, creed, culture and religion.  It can do this but only if its members have internalized Masonic virtue to such an extent that they are a light unto the world.

I am confident that this is the mission of Freemasonry because History tells me so. My study of the American Revolution reveals that the lack of aggressiveness and the ineptitude of the British Generals commanding the battlefield was really a reluctance of countrymen to fight countrymen and of Mason to fight Mason.  If not for Freemasonry the USA might look a lot more like Canada in tradition and government.  We might all being doing toasts to the Queen, even in Texas.  My study of the Civil War shows that Freemasonry did everything it could to steer the course away from war, that Masons were the peacemakers.  And once war began, Freemasonry performed many heroic efforts to soften the harshness of the ugly killing and devastation that this war spewed forth across the land. Freemasonry was the only body, governmental or private organization that did not split in two during the Civil War.  Even churches and charities formed warring camps, but not Freemasonry.  And when the war was over, during Reconstruction, Freemasons were at the forefront to thwart efforts of retribution and punishment upon the south.  If it was not for Freemasonry the Northern Republican majority would have kicked the Confederate states out of the union.

On November 6, 1865 following the defeat and surrender of the South in the very bloody American Civil War, in defeat, the Grand Master of Arkansas, E. H. English addressed his Grand Lodge:

“Masons, as such, have never created wars in any age or in any country.  They have been drawn into them, as men, in consequence of their connection with the civil institutions of the country, as citizens; but the principles of the Order are tolerant, conservative, peaceful and law-abiding, and tend to prevent war and blood-shed.  Masonry never persecuted for opinion’s sake.  Her skirts are guiltless of the blood of martyrs.  She never erected a stake, forged a chain, or kindled a fire for a human victim!  I am willing, this night, to take by the hand as my brother, any man on the globe, who is in spirit and truth a Mason, no matter what his country, his claim or his creed; and I will never go to war with him if I can help it!  And such, I am sure, are the sentiments of all of you, my brethren.  It is fortunate for our country, as well as for humanity, that there is one venerable, old institution, organized upon social and moral principles, which furnishes a common platform and a common altar, where all men who have been intrusted with its sublime mysteries, and assumed its imposing obligations, may meet, and kneel, and mingle the better and nobler feelings and sentiments of our nature, in perfect unity and concord, regardless of all external distinctions and differences in matters of opinion.  There is no human organization upon the globe that ever has, or ever will, harmonize in one body so many elements which are in external conflict, as the Masonic organization.” *(1D)

Freemasonry and totalitarian despotic dictatorial regimes do not mix.  Freemasonry has carried with it from the Enlightenment the ideals of free men and a belief in the worth of the individual.  Thus when we make Masons across the world, we make peacemakers everywhere. Let me give you a brief glimpse into Freemasonry outside the English speaking countries.

I have a friend, Tofique Fatehi, who I met on the Global Fraternal Network chat board.  Tofique practices Masonry in India near Bombay.  When I learned that Tofique was coming to visit his son and family who were living in Massachusetts I made sure we had a face to face meeting.  On the Paul Revere’s Colonial Degree Team trip to Maine we picked up Tofique on the way and he was able to witness our performance.  From Tofique I have learned that in Lodges in India you can find at the same time Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Jains, and Buddhists all sitting side by side.  There are five Volumes of the Sacred Law on the altar., The Bhagvad Gita for the Hindus, The Qur’an for the Muslims, The Avesta for the Parsis or Zoroaastrians, The Bible for the Christians and Jews and The Granth Sahib for the Sikhs.  If this does not cover the field a candidate may bring his own book of Faith. Something Tofique said I found most interesting:

“After the obligation, when the ritual requires the worshipful Master to say ‘…you will now seal this obligation by kissing the Volume of Sacred Law…’, it is not uncommon in India for the Master to say ‘…you will seal this obligation on the Volume of Sacred Law in a manner most binding on your conscience…’. Because the manner of reverencing the Volume of Sacred Law is very different for each individual, and some dare not touch their lips on the Volume of Sacred Law.  It is very interesting to observe the several different ways that are ‘most binding’”. *(6)

Lodge Singapore has seven VOSL on the altar adding to the five of India the Tanach for Hebrews and The Dhammapadra for the Mahay-ana sect of Buddists. Some of the other VOSLs around the world include The Book of Certitude for the Bahai Faith, The Shang Ti or “Heavenly Ruler” for Confucianism, and Providence for Deism. The Grand Lodge of Turkey flourishes in a predominately Muslim country with 193 Lodges and 13,178 Brethren. The Grand Lodge of Alaska has been offering a helping hand in starting new Lodges in Siberian Russia.  But without cataloging Freemasonry across the globe, and it is in many different countries world wide, let us focus on the concept of brotherhood, brotherhood in freedom and what consequences that it has for peace and harmony.

I am indebted to Brother Joseph E. A. Salem of the Israeli Scottish Rite for these thoughts on the subject.

“Too many people believe that peace is a diplomatic maneuvering, a series of talks and shuttle trips between countries, or a pile of documents signed in Paris or on the lawn of the White House, in Washington.  Real Peace can only come from the hearts of men.”

“The greatest ideal in the world today is fraternity, not as a mere sentiment, but as a science, a practical philosophy and a way of life.  If ever there was a generation eager and willing to try out the philosophy of brotherhood with wisdom and patience, it must be this generation.  We have been shown in letters of blood and fire, what hate, envy and greed can do.”

“I believe Freemasonry can do a lot towards building a better world, fit to live in, unstained by blood, undefiled by hatred.  This is the challenge to our craft.”

“’Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.’  This is the Commandment to which Freemasonry dedicated itself, to establish brotherhood among men so they can live in peace with each other in this world.”

“The struggle of Freemasonry is the struggle of the human race against tyranny and oppression.  From the beginning, Freemasonry has realized that religion, tradition, and habits of life can divide the peoples of the world into hostile camps.  Freemasonry takes no part in these quarrels, rather it provides a common meeting ground where all men can meet on the level.”

“Every Masonic lodge is a temple of peace. In it, men of different religions and stations in life meet together, and on its altars, the Sacred Volumes of all faiths are placed.  The spirit of harmony and cooperation prevails.  The Masonic teachings of equality and fraternity are the only tie that can bind the human family together, and create a world order based on brotherly love and peace.” *(7)

I thought those words were so great that I E-Mailed Brother Leon Zeldis, Mr. Mason of Israel and a world renowned Masonic author and speaker and told him I was preparing this address and asked if he would contribute some brief words to you this evening.  He wrote back:

“Israel Freemasonry gives a living example of the contribution that Freemasonry can make to world peace. The fact that our Lodges serve as an oasis of peaceful coexistence between men of different religious and political views should be made public and serve as an example.  Israeli lodges work in eight different languages, including the two official national languages:  Hebrew and Arabic.  Five lodges work in Arabic and have membership of mostly Arab men, and two lodges are about evenly divided between Arabs and Jews, and they work in Hebrew.  Some Arabs prefer to join a Hebrew speaking lodge, and some Arabic-speaking Jews belong to the Arab speaking lodges.  There is a great deal of joint meetings (especially between the Spanish-speaking La Fraternidad Lodge of Tel Aviv and the Nazareth lodges).  The official seal of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel shows the cross, the crescent and Solomon’s Seal intertwined, representing the fundamental unity of the three great monotheistic religions.  On the altar of the Grand Lodge, and most private lodges, three Volumes of the Sacred Law are open.  Three Grand VSL Bearers serve as Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge, and there are also three Grand Chaplains with equal rank.  The fraternal binding of Arabs and Jews was a characteristic of Freemasonry in the Holy Land since the foundation of the first lodges, at the end of the 19th century, a tradition maintained until today, notwithstanding wars and terrorism.”  *(8) 

The universality of Freemasonry worldwide will bring the 21st century into a new spirit of cooperation.  But this universality is lagging behind the rest of the world here at home in North America.  When we really mean it when we say Freemasonry is for all peoples of all creeds, races and religions, not just a Christian Fraternity that is tolerant, then we will join the world wide community as effective peace makers.  To facilitate that purpose I recommend the following changes to all Grand Lodges in North America.

1)  That all institutionalized charity be turned over to the Shrine.

2) The money being spent on these charities would now be used for the development of Freemasons.  I call on every Grand Lodge to develop a state wide Masonic education program and provide it to local Lodges.  Also a speaker’s bureau for free speakers for every Lodge.  Grand Lodge should also provide each local Lodge with an up to date modern library.  And lastly it should offer leadership training programs for local Lodge officers.

3)  That Grand Lodge require a two year waiting period before a newly raised Brother can join a side body.  Blue Lodge is not a stepping stone to somewhere else.

4)  That Grand Lodges will require every one of its chartered Lodges to have on its Masonic altar at all times five VOSLs  -  The Tanach, The Protestant Bible, The Catholic Bible, The Gita and the Qur’an.  Many Masons are unaware that many Grand Lodges will permit another VOSL on the altar only during a Brother’s obligation and will prohibit anything but the Bible at all other times.  This practice must stop.

5)  That the ritual “Holy Bible, Square & Compasses” be replaced with “Holy Book, Square & Compasses” and elsewhere in the ritual “Holy Bible” be replaced with “Holy Book”.

6)  That the three Bible lessons in each degree be changed to one Bible lesson, one Qur’an lesson and one Gita lesson.

7)  That every set of degrees offer a Chamber of Reflection in its ritual.

8)  That Grand Lodges once per year offer a set of degrees performed in the foreign language(s) besides English which is most prevalent in its jurisdiction.

9) That Grand Lodges organize a world wide conference of Grand Masters held in a different country every year.

10)  That there be adopted a Canadian National Bill of Masonic Rights and an American National Bill of Masonic Rights which makes Freemasonry the same beacon of toleration and freedom in every state and Canadian Province and guarantees inclusiveness for all men of character of any color.

Finally I am indebted to Paul Bessel for some sage advice and the permission to use his words which I now quote:

“Freemasonry could be, and could have been in the past, the only institution in the world that at all times in every way promotes tolerance and meeting on the level.  We could  be the leaders in seeking racial harmony, religious ecumenism, cooperation among men and women, civility between people who believe in different political philosophies, and friendliness among those who choose to live their lives differently from others.  We could be better than the United Nations, Amnesty International, and interfaith organizations, all together, because we could be the prime organization supporting tolerance for all, everywhere, in all circumstances.  This would be a unique role for Freemasonry.” *(9)

Better than the UN!!!!!!!!!!

AMEN, AMEN, SO MOTE IT BE!

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1A           “HOUSE UNDIVIDED”, “The Story of Freemasonry and the Civil War” by Allen E. Roberts  ISBN  0-88053-056-1  --  pages 122-125

 

1B           Ibid pages 210-211

 

1C           Ibid pages 168-169

 

1D           Ibid pages 291-292

 

2              Masonic Service Association of North America, SHORT TALK BULLETINS, “Why Men Love Freemasonry” – “Old Tiler Talks” by Carl Claudy 1924

 

3A           “THE NEW REVELATIONS”, “A Conversation With God” by Neale Donald Walsch  ISBN 0-7434-5694-7  -- pages 67 & 92

 

3B           Ibid page 316

 

3C           Ibid page 319

 

4              “PROCESS SPIRITUALITY: BEING VERSUS DOING” by Kenneth Boa, TH.M.; Ph.D.; D.Phil. 

http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=2780

 

5              “A FOURTH PART OF A CIRCLE”, Masonic Dictionary Issue, Volume 3—Number 3, Article: “FREEMASONRY: Is It Ours To Change?”, by W. Bro. Paul J. Pinel, pages 16-17

 

6              “FREEMASONRY IN INDIA”, by Bro. Tofique Fatehi, a paper delivered at the Global Fraternal Network’s annual weekend BBQ in Statesville, North Carolina, June12, 2004 for Wilkerson College Lodge #760. http://www.grandlodge-nc.org/nc-mason/archives/2004/NC%20Mason%20129-5.pdf

 

7              “FREEMASONRY & WORLD PEACE”, by Joseph A. Salem.  http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/9991/peace.html 

 

8              E-Mail from Brother Leon Zeldis

 

9              “MASONIC TRADITIONS IN OUR PAST AND OUR FUTURE’, by Paul M. Bessel, presentation at La France Lodge #93, FAAM, Washington, DC, September 8, 2000.  http://www.bessel.org/mastrads.htm

 

 

 

         

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