The Masonic Trowel

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book i

the scholar the builders rejected

w. bro. j. s. m. ward

"Ever remember that Nature hath implanted in your breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment towards that country whence you derived your birth and infant nurture."

This is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful phrases in the first degree and truly depicts one of the most unselfish characteristics of the human heart. In patriotism we have a virtue wherein personal interest plays a smaller part than in almost any other guiding principle of life; in fact, it may be considered as one of the most altruistic of all the virtues.

It is a striking example of that practical commonsense which lies behind Freemasonry that it should thus recognise the important influence that patriotism exerts in every well-balanced human being, while at the same time holding up the banner of an enlightened internationalism.

Freemasons are taught that a Mason is a brother whatever his country, colour or religion, wherein the Craft transcends all frontiers and prejudices, but in the above phrase she acknowledges the fact that every man has a particular affection for his native land. Herein she is both wiser and more human than those idealists who think that man in his present stage of evolution can cast aside affection for his Motherland and replace it by a kind of world citizenship. Indeed, many of these idealists go further and suggest that a man cannot be both a patriot and a good citizen of the world. No view could be more mistaken. If we cannot love our own fellow citizens, whose language we speak and whose ideals we can understand, how can we possibly hope to comprehend the aspirations of men of a different race or religion? To abuse our country and to decry it in the supposed interests of internationalism, merely shows ignorance of the fundamentals of human life.

There are, of course, different types of patriotism, and this virtue must not be made an excuse for narrow-minded bigotry or for an arrogant claim to over-ride the just rights of other races. Such an attitude, even it if resulted in temporary gain to our country, would be bought at a heavy price indeed, since nations, like individuals, have moral obligations and cannot ignore them without prejudice to their spiritual well-being. The true patriot will, in fact, be the better enabled to understand the attitude of a man of another nation if he realises that he, too, has an indissoluble attachment to that country whence he derived his birth and infant nurture.

Our Masonic organisation aptly illustrates the ideal at which we should aim. Every man feels a peculiar attachment to his Mother Lodge. He probably thinks it is the best lodge in the world, but this in no way prevents him from working for the general good of all branches of the Grand Lodge to which he belongs, and in like manner the true patriot, while being loyal to his Motherland, will strive to work for peace and harmony between the various nations which constitute the whole world.

We are, no doubt, far distant from the day when all the nations of the earth will be joined in one vast federation, but we can each and all of us do our best to assuage asperities of feeling between different nations. When we travel abroad and bear fraternal greetings to a lodge and another jurisdiction, even the humblest of us is an ambassador of peace and goodwill, and we may be assured that the members of that foreign lodge will think no worse of us because we show we are proud of being Englishmen, while we on our part by a tactful speech, and, above all, by the obvious sincerity of our fraternal feelings, will do much to remove misunderstandings and help to create a focal point of good fellowship for our own native land in the country we are visiting.

This, indeed, is patriotism of the highest order, as well as good masonry.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014