"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