Among the Workmen
by Bro. Albert Knight, P.M. Rhode Island
The Master Mason - July 1926
FROM an ancient
legend we learn that none were allowed to aid or assist in a
noble and glorious enterprise except those who were particular
to trace their genealogy; trace it to a value, which leads a man
to ask, "Has genealogy any value to me?"
At first thought
this question seems rather a trivial and insignificant one, but
let us examine it more closely and see if we can discover
therein a value which ought not to be ignored when some one
demands who you are. Such a demand, in the right spirit, usually
awakens in us the test of a challenge when this searching
question comes. Then we must meet the demand by replying, if for
no other purpose than to make comparison.
Who are you, in
the strictest sense of the phrase? Are you a Stranger among the
Workmen? Oftentimes the observer asks his friend, "Who is he?"
if another, not known to him, makes a favorable impression in
some worthy task or endeavor. "Where did he come from? What is
his line of business? When did he come to town ? Is he apt to be
here more or less, or permanently? If he is, I would like to
What about the question of your Masonic genealogy?
Are men asking in like manner about you? Have you been observed
as having wrought hard and for a long period in the quarries of
human endeavor and usefulness? Do you continue to be punctual
and assiduous in your Masonic labors or have you been a
veritable Stranger among the Workmen? Know ye not, that a
craftsman who has a record of thirty or forty years of faithful
toiling in the quarry of enlightenment has much to reflect upon
and is thereby receiving a great stimulus to proceed?
about your lodge membership? Does it consist merely of a strip
of paper which reads as follows: "This is to Certify, that
Brother Ready Blank is a member in good standing in
Well-Meaning Lodge and is entitled to all the benefits to be
derived by membership therein?" Or should it read: "You are not
only entitled to all benefits therein but are expected to give
in return for those benefits the best that is within you"? Are
you a Stranger content to be an absorber or withdrawer of
interest, or a Workman, not content unless you can be a
depositor of value?
ALL GREAT institutions were conceived,
organized and maintained because someone had a vision; and, with
that experience, saw a wonderful opportunity for service, not
alone for himself, but for others. Freemasonry is no exception
in this regard. But how can such service be rendered unless
there be complete sacrifice? Without the latter, . nothing
worthy of note is often accomplished Sacrifice! What
possibilities are wrapped up in that word!
accomplishments, do you know the brethren? You say, "Yes, I know
them"? But are you sure? You may be intimate enough with your
fellow members to call them by the names of Tom, Jack,: Dick, or
Harry, but do you really know them? Do You know them
Masonically? Do you know them as a result of the value of
Freemasonry? Are you acquainted with the Fraternity not merely
as a term, but as a vital reality? Can you square your actions
by Virtue's Square? Can you round out your endeavors by the
circle of friendship? Can you encompass your thoughts by good,
instead of evil, intent?
These are some of the qualifications
of those who are not listed as Strangers among the Workmen. In
our Masonic institution it is not enough to introduce one
workman to another, but it is, oftentimes, fully as important to
introduce them to the task. But someone may say, "What is my
task"? Which reminds us of, "Am I my brother's keeper"?
task in Freemasonry may be difficult to define, for some of us;
so the best which can be done is to propound a few queries, then
let each Craftsman determine how far short he is of reaching
that Masonic ideal: "A Workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly divining the word of Truth."
Have you been
punctilious in the tasks which have been assigned to you on all
occasions? That punctiliousness may have been to keep a tongue
of good report, or possibly to lend a hand to another crossing
the bridge of doubt. Has it been to guard another's welfare as
your own? Maybe you have been called a fool; and, even then, not
resented it, but rather let the mighty force of Truth reveal itself
and continue to do its noble work. It may be you have been
persistently doing a task, with all seeming odds against you,
knowing full well that justice would eventually conquer and
equity assert itself and prevail. Possibly someone who wore the
insignia of our Fraternity, so far forgot himself as to do you
an un-Masonic act or injustice, and you were too magnanimous to
allow that act to prejudice you against the Fraternity as a
whole, or to reply in kind. If that were so, then you are a
Mason, I presume.
ONE, of twelve betrayed his Master, and
ever since that time the incident has been a warning to men of
all ages not to betray their trust. If we are unable to measure
up to that standard can it be truthfully said of us, we have
been introduced and are no longer Strangers among the Workmen?
How then shall strange methods be removed without eliminating
the Stranger? How shall the Stranger become a Workman? How shall
the Workman become efficient and not only a better Workman but a
leader? How shall a leader remain such without becoming an
autocrat? In most human families there are those who do not
always harness up or coincide with the processes by which the
problems of the family are eliminated, but it would be absurd to
remove those members from the family on that account. Is not the
Masonic Fraternity one big family? Having once decided that such
a person is to remain in the family, must we not try to discover
if there is a value in keeping him therein; and, if there is,
he, or we for him, must find some means of assimilation; some
way of making a place for his usefulness.
What is he
doing for himself along that line? What are we doing for him
Masonically? Are we letting him go adrift and eventually starve?
Not every man can make a speech. Not everyone is proficient as a
ritualist. Not all are fit to tile. If that were the rule and
guide, none would ever sit in a lodge, all would seek to remain
at the outer door.
There is a place for each and every
one; therefore, if each one would fill his own place, what a
wonderful Fraternity this institution of ours would become.
Strangers among the Workmen would soon become assimilated; the
Fraternity would seek its leaders, and not its leaders the
place. We need leaders, but not in the autocratic sense. The
days of autocrats are gone forever. But there is great need of
leaders in the fullest sense of the word, "Men whom the lust of
office cannot spoil." Leaders who are possessed of vision,
courage, conviction, and consecration; whom men willingly
follow, because in sincerity and truth, such leaders are
trustworthy and beyond reproach. Such men are easily accessible
to aid in time of need. When a spirit like that prevails in our
Fraternity, the introduction of Strangers among the Workmen
shall be short lived; not that we shall seek primarily to get
rid of the Strangers, but because they, too, shall become
possessed with the ideals of our noble institution and, like the
prophet of old, when the challenge came from Macedonia, saying,
"Come over and help us," shall individually answer, "Here am I
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