The Masonic Trowel

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by Jay La Suer
April 1, 1998

In the pan-handle of Texas and southern to central Oklahoma, the dirt is a reddish brown; more red than brown. I remember as a child, walking barefoot down a dusty, dirt road in Oklahoma with my father, to my grandmother's house. It was a hot summer day and the dust of the road was so hot it was nearly all I could do to walk on it. But, it was summer and all little boys prefer to go barefoot, and don't seem to mind the dust as it collects on their feet. As I walked along, I held my father's hand. We had been talking about a variety of subjects that I, as an eight year old boy, was interested in.

As I held my father's hand, my fingers felt a ring. Oh, I'd seen the ring on his finger for as long as I could remember, but for some unknown reason, I turned and looked closely at it. It was an eagle with two heads, each head appeared to be looking in opposite directions. Now remember, that I'd seen a lot of birds in my short life, but I'd never seen one with two heads. I turned to my father and asked him why the bird on the ring on his finger had two heads.

Daddy, as I called him, chuckled - then stopped and squatted down to talk to me. He explained that his ring represented the Scottish Rite. He knew that I was aware that he was a Mason, but that was about it. He went on to explain to me, as he squatted in the middle of the dusty road, that Masons were a special group of men. He said that they were honest and upright. That they were his brothers, and if he ever needed any help, his Masonic brothers would help him, or if one of his Masonic brothers needed help, he would help them.

He said that Masons believed in liberty, high morals and justice, and that many a famous American was a Mason. He began to name famous Masons to me: George Washington, Patrick Henry, Gene Autry and President Truman. It was Masons, he said, that helped to make America the great nation that it was. It was Masons that wrote the Declaration of Independence and played a major role in writing the Constitution… It was then I decided that, someday, I would be a Mason. Yes, I wanted to be one of these special men.

As a young man, I petitioned my father's Blue Lodge, and reached the sublime degree of Master Mason. Later, I petitioned the Scottish Rite, but I never forgot what my father had said about these men that are Masons.

As I grew older and had children, and my children had children, my father and I had another conversation that I remember well. Dad made the comment that he felt sorry for my children and grandchildren. He said that America was not what it used to be. He said that the rights of the individual American, the ethics and morality of this nation had been gradually eroded to a point that he barely recognized America today, when he compared it to the days when he was a young man.

Let's consider for a moment the plight of America. Dad was right! America has changed, and not for the better. Yes, there have been warning signs, changes in attitude, ethics and morals. And, it's been so gradual that we, as Americans, have gone along with the flow.

This ship of state, America the beautiful, the greatest nation that has ever graced the world, is in the process of committing Suicide! America's citizens laugh, play, work and stroll through life with little realization of the danger lurking in the water through which this mighty ship of state sails. We've seen all the warning signs, yet somehow we've been able to find a way to ignore them, a way to brush the warnings aside.

"Don't ask, don't tell".… "Just go for it"…. "As long as they don't bother me, I don't care what they do"…. "If we'd legalize it, our crime rate would go down"…. "Sure, it’s the oldest profession, but it doesn't hurt anybody, why should it be a crime?" "What you don't know can't hurt you"…. "I don't care, as long as it doesn't hurt me"…. "Go along and get along"…. "Just go with the flow"…. "I'm okay, you're okay!" The list could go on for pages, but one fact rings through. We have found a myriad of ways to rationalize behavior that erodes the morality and ethics of this great nation and its citizens.

Are we as Masons being faithful to America? If we ignore the decay of our country's morals, are we being faithful to our nation, our families, ourselves, Masonry and our God? Can we continue to look the other way and claim to be living up to our responsibilities as men, as citizens of America and to the promises of Masonry?

Not a day passes that we don't read about the moral and ethical decay of this great nation. Murder of children by children; what a dastardly crime! Yet it occurs with regularity and is mentioned only for a few days on the evening news. The pervasive use of illegal drugs has invaded our grade schools, our middle schools and our high schools, but somehow, we find a way to turn away from such stench, and ignore it. Well, it wasn't my family, my child or grandchild, it could never happen to us. And America walks merrily on its way down the path to destruction.

There are many excuses to avoid becoming involved in correcting the moral and ethical decay of which I speak, but, most Masons I have spoken to shy away from getting involved. Their excuse is simple. Masonry and Masons should not become involved in politics! Oh really? Journey back in time and make the same statement to our brothers, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman. Then, let us hang our heads in shame!

Where would this great nation be without the personal political involvement of these brothers? None of these brothers turned their backs and ignored the political, ethical and moral corruption of their time. They met the challenge! They risked their lives, their careers, their standing in the community and their reputations. Are we any less responsible to our nation and ourselves?

Evidence points to the moral and ethical corruption of America at the highest office in this nation, yet somehow the people of America don't seem to mind. As a matter of fact, they become easily annoyed when such evidence is reported. And, even worse, that person's popularity has gained on a daily basis. Has America lost its conscience? Has our moral compass gone haywire? Do we no longer recognize the difference between right and wrong? God help us if we don't!

Albert Pike said it best: "Be faithful to your country and prefer its dignity and honor to any degree of popularity and honor to yourself." Men achieve greatness by their deeds and actions when all odds seem to be against them! Greatness comes in all sizes and shapes. A simple "NO, IT ISN'T RIGHT!" is a comment of moral truth when all others seem to go with the flow. Sometimes it takes all the courage one can muster up to make a stand against moral and ethical corruption.

Its time that we as Masons stand up for what is right, to say "NO!", to refuse to go along to get along, to go against the flow! Its time we live up to the teachings of our fraternity and begin to turn this stampede towards moral and ethical decay that has engulfed this nation…. Or shall we simply walk down the path towards ruin with our mental blinders on, and prove once and for all that ignorance is bliss? I, for one, say NO!

Don't believe for a moment that one person can't make a difference. Let us, one at a time, begin to take a stand for right. Believe in our nation, in our ability, and one at a time we will become a mighty force against this epidemic of moral and ethical decay that is sweeping our nation. One at a time we can become a mighty legion to turn the tide! We can live up to the teachings and promises of Masonry and become leaders of our nation, not followers. Remember, when one follows, the view never changes! Get out in front and see the bright sun of morality and ethics. See the promise of the founding fathers of our nation, and teach by example, the promises of Masonry.

We cannot escape or hide from history! We will be remembered for what we've accomplished. We will also be remembered for what we have allowed to transpire. History will remember what we, as Americans and Masons have done to maintain the honor, dignity, ethics and morals of our great nation.

If we have the power to change, and, be assured my brothers, we do have the power, then we bear the responsibility to change the corruption that is staining this nation that Americans have died to preserve. We bear the responsibility to not allow moral and ethical decay to accomplish what tanks, bombs and bullets have failed to conquer.

Albert Pike stated: "Morality is a force. It is the magnetic attraction of the heart toward Truth and Virtue. The needle, imbued with this mystic property, and pointing unerringly to the north, carries the mariner to safety over the trackless ocean, through storm and darkness, until his glad eyes behold the beneficent beacons that welcome him to safe and hospitable harbor."

Isn't it about time we walked in his teachings?

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