We show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and are kind to and understanding of fellow human beings.
From time to time we come across true stories that tell more about the meaning of living Freemasonry than any degree lecture or visiting speaker can ever do. The following story was originally published in October 2003, about a year after the telling of the story to a Mason.
A group of Masons were sitting around a hotel pool in following a banquet. They were discussing the various talks they had heard during the day’s conference.
It was when I saw tears forming in his eyes barely visible in the dim light and heard a tremor in his voice that I began to pay closer attention to Mike. I’d never met him before this day. He seemed about to open his soul and had selected me to be his attentive ear.
“I was a car salesman then,” he said. “Wasn’t a great salesman but earned enough to provide for my wife and children. My wife was unable to work because of her health condition.”
“One day Julius, my manager, handed me a commission check. I read the check and said I could not accept it because I had not sold the car indicated in the paper accompanying the check. Julius said the company made this kind of mistake occasionally and they’d never find out about it. Again I refused. He asked why I could not take it. The check was good and made out in my name. Besides my family could probably use the extra money. I said we could but I could not receive wages for work not done. He asked where I had come up with such a notion. I told him it came from my Masonic teaching and also from the Holy Scriptures. He walked away shaking his head in disbelief. Clearly he did not understand.”
“Even though our discussion was supposed to remain private, word of my decision spread quickly throughout the office. Salesmen with whom I had established good relations became cold and distant. Joe, our head mechanic, was different. He became friendlier. He asked about my decision and the reasons behind it. After giving him the story he said he’d heard about the Masons. He said if the organization taught such moral lessons he’d like to become a member. For a long time he was afraid to ask believing that as a native American Indian he would be disqualified. I assured him he wouldn’t be. The next day I handed him a petition. I was happy to be his first line signer. As a Past Master I was able to give him a better understanding of Freemasonry and my enjoyable experience in the Lodge.”
“Over the next few years his family and mine became close. We enjoyed many day trips and evening dinners together.”
“A couple of years later the dealership went through difficult financial times. I was not the only one to be let go. Finding a job was nearly impossible. My savings were nearly depleted. After searching for several months there were no options and no job. There was no way I could afford to keep my house.”
“Joe remained close and knew my situation. He came to my house one day and suggested my family move in with his. He said that they had room to spare. I tried to refuse but he insisted. He asked what kind of a Mason would he be if he could not aid and friend and worthy Brother in need. My family stayed with Joe’s for nearly five months. During this time I was able to secure a job and move my family back into a decent home. There was no way I could ever repay Joe and his family for their kindness.”
“One day my daughter’s car needed an oil change. I suggested she take it to Joe’s son Jake. He was a mechanic following in his Dad’s footsteps. Late in the afternoon Joe came by for a chat. I asked if he had seen my daughter. He said that Jake had finished the job early, after which the two of them decided to spend an enjoyable drive in the country. Joe asked if I knew the two of them were seeing a lot of each other. I hadn’t. Three months later Jake asked permission for my daughter’s hand in marriage. Jake is a fine young man. I could not have been more proud and happy when the wedding day arrived.”
“It was not long after the wedding that Jake petitioned the Lodge. As a Past Master I felt privileged to take part in his degree. When it came to the part in the ritual where the candidate is destitute I got rather emotional delivering the ritual.”
“A year later Jake wanted to join the Royal Arch Chapter. I was High Priest that year and was able to confer upon him the Royal Arch degree. Once more I got a little emotional when Jake again found himself in a destitute condition. To symbolically give him a monetary token, no matter how small, was a confirmation of my personal pledge to assist him whenever he had need of my assistance.”
“God only knows where I would be today had Joe not extended a helping hand to raise a brother who had fallen on difficult times.”
This is the Freemasonry we are taught by the ritual to apply to our every day lives. One man extends the helping hand of friendship and brotherly love to another in a demonstration of natural respect, no questions asked or motives questioned. Joe was practicing applied Freemasonry.
And recall how Joe came to become a Mason—by observing Mike’s practice of honesty and good dealings with other men in the business world. Joe came to the Fraternity after forming a favorable opinion of the institution. In turn, his son Jake became a Mason surely because of what he learned from his father and from Mike by precept and example. Jake was a boy when Mike and his family came to live with Joe’s family. Jake learned by example from his father what it meant instinctively to do the right thing.
This story also contains an important lesson about how it is the internal and not the external qualifications which make a Mason. Because Joe was a native American Indian he did not think he was qualified to become a Mason. Mike, a practicing Mason, knew otherwise, and opened the door of Freemasonry to a man who might otherwise never have thought to join. And his Lodge would have been the poorer if he had not joined.
It is by our exemplary conduct as Masons in raising our families and in our business and professional relationships, that we will attract new men to our Fraternity. When we speak of the moral and ethical principles of Freemasonry only within the Lodge, they can become stale and routine recitations of ritual. But when we begin to live by these precepts and apply them in our dealings with our families, friends, and the society at large, not only will we have an effect on those around us, but also we will attract new members and Masons to our Lodges.
Actions have always spoken louder than words. It is by our deeds that people will know us. And when we practice true Brotherhood, as Mike and Joe and Jake did, the world will be a better place.
NOTE: The central story told here was related by William N. Wine, PM, in an article published in The Philalethes Magazine.