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Strangers 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 meet him." 

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? 

How 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! 

In your 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"? 

A 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 send me."

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Last modified: March 22, 2014