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THE VOICE OF YOUTH
The Master Mason - May 1925
THE TASK before the Craft today, if we read the signs aright, is twofold. First, to know more about Masonry; and second, to do more with Masonry. The second is dependent upon the first, if we are to keep the Order true to its tradition. If Masonry is ever perverted, or even diverted, from its historic aim and ideal, it will be by brethren who do not know its past.
Here lies the profound importance of a knowledge of Masonry, its history, genius, and purpose. For that reason, we hold it to be unwise to allow the matter of Masonic instruction to go haphazard. Our leaders must realize this situation, and take up seriously the training of young Masons in Masonry, if only to hold their interest. These reflections are suggested by a number of letters from young men of the Craft, in which they speak out plainly what they think and feel. For example:
Let me give you a series of kicks. I entered the Order in utter ignorance of it, beyond its good name in town. I saw the Ritual, but was not told anything about it - beyond its moral teachings, which every man knows already if be is fit to belong to a Lodge. In short, I was marked, branded, and turned loose. I knew nothing about Masonry until I read your book, "The Builders." Is it fair for a Lodge, or a Grand Lodge, to treat a young man in that way?
The Ritual gives a man the "feel" of Masonry, and something of its meaning. So far, good. In my new enthusiasm I attended Lodge, but I saw the same thing over and over again, until I knew the Ritual well enough to detect an error. First degree, second degree, third degree - then the other way round. That is to say, I spent my time at Lodge watching other men made Masons. Aside from the routine business, nothing else was done - not one thing. Nobody told me anything about Masonry..
No wonder I lost interest. When I dared to suggest that the Lodge might occasionally do something else, I learned that more men were waiting to be initiated. There was no time to do anything but make Masons. We of this age are serious enough, but we are not solemn. I thought there ought to be more social life in the Lodge - but it was too busy. just one eternal grind. Besides, the older men thought me frivolous! We do have a Ladies' Night once a year, and a St. John's Day celebration - nothing else!
So far as I can see, Masonry does nothing but make more Masons. Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Lions, and the rest, meet in good fellowship, hear public questions discussed, take part in the life of the community, and do many interesting things. Masonry never does anything of the kind-just goes on grinding. The only kind of talk I have ever heard in our Lodge is the usual exhortation to take Masonry seriously and be better men. And there it ends.
Intellectually, I am bound to say, Masonry is quarantined from the world and its issues and affairs. Any living question, no matter how non-partisan, is dubbed "politics," and that makes it taboo. Really, if a man goes to Lodge, he might as well leave his mind at home. The Ritual is all he sees or hears, and that is an old story. Of a certain statesman it was said, "The air currents of the world did not ventilate his mind," and I am wondering if that is not true of Masonry.
Anyway, I have given you a piece of my mind. You may think I have none to spare, but it does seem to me that Masonry ought to do more and be more than, it is. It is a wonderful Order, and I hope I appreciate its value. I am just a youngster who feels that Masonry is out of touch with the life of today. I may be all wrong, but your book is to blame for it.
THERE speaks the voice of youth - alert, alive, eager to know and do and get somewhere - and it behooves its to hear and heed it. In another letter, a brother asks, why was it necessary to form Masonic Clubs, such as have grown so strong in recent years - why should not what the Clubs do be done in the lodge, by the lodge? The questions raised are so interesting and important, and the point of view expressed so suggestive, that we invite discussion of both. Is Masonry doing all it should do? What can it do, and how can it be done?
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Last modified: March 22, 2014