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“Woe unto them that…take away the right

from the poor of my people, that

widows may be their prey…”

Is. 10:1-2

No greater calamity can befall a man than to live his life in poverty, persecution or in a state of continuous victimization inflicted upon him by men of wealth, position and power.  Not only does such a man live in misery, he lives in misery with the full knowledge that his fellow man cares little or nothing about his fate.  Such a man has few, if any, champions to which he may turn.  He is not likely a voter or campaign contributor and, thus, politicians give him low priority.  He usually looks haggard and behaves bizarrely in public frightening many by both his appearance and his manner.  He can even make some feel guilty that they have not done anything to help him, which evokes anger and resentment, rather than compassion.

There is a well-known Masonic saying: “Is there no help for the widow’s son?” , if he happens upon a Freemason, for we are all “Sons of the Widow.”  As it is said, relief is a duty incumbent upon all men, but particularly upon Masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection.  Masons care about the fate of their fellow man – or, at least they should care.  But, social injustice includes more than living in poverty – it includes living under the yoke of oppression.

Every nation tolerates some level of oppression and social injustice.  Some, such as America, tolerate less and thus are viewed by the world as doing a better job at eliminating such conditions.  Yet, everywhere one looks he may find those who work in unsafe surroundings, some who labor for an inadequate wage, children who receive less than a good education, seniors who live among rats, families who receive little or no health care and worshippers of the Great Architect who are criticized because they do not worship in the same manner as do others.  While those conditions are more prominent in other nations, they still exist in our own backyard and are the focus of consistent political debate.  Should the people of this nation provide for the welfare of others or not?  That is the question.

While governments and politicians argue about welfare systems and how best to deliver health care, and who should and should not benefit, Masons act, believing that every man, woman and child should benefit.  Throughout the nation, homes are available for those in need – funded entirely by caring Masons and their families.  In every country and in every clime, hospitals flourish to serve the needy children crippled in their bones and muscles.  Eye care centers and speech clinics serve others and everywhere man cares to look Masons have reached out and given to those who are most in need.  Freemasonry is not alone in this endeavor, as other fraternal organizations, churches and charitable institutions also do their part to alleviate the social injustice.

Yet, in spite of all of the good works that are being done each and every day by the Craft and others, social injustice thrives – here, there and everywhere.  Horrifically, it thrives as a matter of choice – not the choice of its victims, as some would suggest, but a choice made by those who are in a position do actually do something that would.  As mankind becomes more aware of himself as a unique being in the universe, he oddly becomes more inclined to care more about himself than he does about others.  He feeds himself and his family and when they are finished, they often throw the remainder in the trash.  Yet, it is often that same man who often attends religious services and openly professes a belief and adherence to the Golden Rule. If you ask him, he will tell you that he sincerely embraces the principle of doing unto others as he would that they should do unto him.  Yet, all too frequently by his own actions he privately chooses not to end social injustice, because, as he sees reality, there is only enough for him and his family.

Masons are, in a real sense, taught to act unnaturally; to set aside their great concern for themselves and to provide for the welfare of others.  It sounds so simple, yet when one tries to place it into practice, the sacrifice required seems almost overwhelming.  In the Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus is asked by a young man how he can be of the utmost service.  When he is told to sell all that he owns and walk with Jesus in service to others he sadly declines, for, as we are informed, his riches are so expansive that he cannot bring himself to give them up.  The Gospels imply that the young man was not a bad person – he was simply a human being, whose natural inclination was to serve himself first.

The ties of society teach each and every one of us to love one another.  Our social state also teaches us modesty and gentleness, as well as the difference between justice and injustice.  At this point we may return to the symbolism of the Mosaic pavement and remind ourselves that it is emblematic of human life, which is checkered with good and evil.

Where there are men who turn their backs on the poor and the hungry, there are also men who create, operate and serve in center-city missions intended to feed and house the poor and the homeless.  In a nation where some rise to ultimate power professing disgust for the poor and their drain on society, there are also men and women who step forward to reach out and ease human suffering.  Freemasons proudly include themselves with those who help, rather than with those who criticize, complain and resultingly persist in keeping brothers and sisters in a state of misery and injustice.  But, that said, what exactly are the duties of a Mason, as those duties pertain to social injustice?

Masonry does not require anything of its members that is not practical and prudent.  It does not demand that anyone should undertake to climb to those lofty and sublime peaks of virtue that would injure himself, or his family.  It only asks that he do that which for him is easy to be done.  No one’s strength should be taxed and no one should believe that his duty demands that he act beyond his means and capacities.  If his time permits only the effort necessary to support himself and his family, that Mason is not expected to abandon those responsibilities.  For, in the doing of that which he is capable, he is acting to battle social injustice by feeding his family, providing for their health and safety and securing for them the social justice to which they are entitled.

Yet, even the Mason who has no time for anything other than his work has some time for his lodge.  There is an opportunity to speak out and motivate Masons to act in concert and through their organization to actively work toward ridding society of all social injustices.  There is also an opportunity for the Mason with limited additional time to participate together with his lodge brethren, to a small degree at least, in performing that important social work.

Masons begin their work of combating social injustice by first working to eliminate its evils within the Craft.  When a Master Mason is first received upon the five points of fellowship he is taught the go to the aid of another brother, pray for him, keep his secrets, actively work to assist him and to whisper good counsel in his ear when he errs.  Those five points of fellowship were not intended to be applied only to fellow Masons.  They are intended to constitute the foundation for the manner in which a Mason treats everyone in the world with whom he comes into intimate contact.

The elimination or easing of social injustice begins with the attitude and conduct of one man relating to one other man.  Massive government projects implemented to assist the poor and to remedy society’s ills have little chance for success unless one man makes a decision to treat his neighbor as he would have his neighbor treat him and acts upon that decision.  Projects, works and plans are meaningless unless the people who are in a position to put them to work find the endeavors worthwhile enough to contribute their own time and energy.

Such labors can become tedious and evidence of progress slow to develop.  But from the smallest seed does a mighty oak tree grow.  You are here on this earth to encounter the souls with whom you have been placed – challenged to deal with them openly, honestly and with an endearing sense of love.  The tools of Masonry are the instruments from which you may learn the lessons that instruct you how best to meet those challenges.  God has a plan for you and that plan requires that you give what you can give toward its fulfillment.  You alone must discover that plan, but suffice to state whatever it is it likely includes you doing your part to alleviate social injustice.