Sunday, June 1, 2014

To Help, Aid, and Assist

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” 
~ Brother Theodore Roosevelt

As Master Masons, we obligate ourselves to a number of fraternal duties of a “high and ennobling character.” One of the simplest, it may seem, revolves around offering aid and assistance to our “poor and penniless” Brethren approaching us in their time of need. This seems fairly uncomplicated. We all understand that financial hardship can befall any of us without warning and that our Brethren will support us to the extent that they are able. But what about the “poor” in this phrase? You might think it an intentional redundancy or a way to emphasize “penniless.” Clever alliteration, perhaps - or is it something more?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word ‘poor’ initially as you might expect - lacking sufficient money or currency to maintain a certain standard of living. However, I find the alternate definition to be more enlightening: “worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality; deficient or lacking in.” This suggests that our fraternal obligation encompasses more than just monetary assistance. It means we are all charged with helping one another when our souls are in need.

A kind word or compliment may change someone’s outlook on the entire day. Sometimes a Brother with a problem is simply looking for an attentive ear, a good listener. The new member trying to learn his work seeks the positive reinforcement of a mentor, or the guidance of a teacher. The widow or child of a Brother may relish a fond recollection of their loved one. The visitor, willing to attend, but feeling out of place, may be comforted by a friendly smile and handshake. The time spent at dinner with the Brother you haven’t seen in a while may bring him back to Lodge more often. In fact, such things cost us little more than our own efforts.

The heart of providing help, aid, and assistance in accordance with our obligations isn’t so much in the financial aspects of relief, but more so in the act of doing. When you notice someone in need, help them. Offer your time; your attention; your knowledge; your strength; your compassion; and as we are all charged, “do this in a cheerful spirit, for our Great Master has said that he loveth a cheerful giver.”

Think of these things when, during the course of the Masonic year, you pause to honor those Brethren who have given their time and energy to serve Freemasonry and your Lodge. Think of our Pennsylvania brother, Samuel Davis of Keystone Lodge No. 271, who, in the early 1900’s, established an endowment that exists to this day for the purpose of providing relief to the minor children of deceased Freemasons. Think of the help, aid, and assistance these Brothers have provided over the years and continue to inspire in us even today. Think of these things and then do something yourself to make even the smallest difference in someone else’s life. It may cost you very little, but the rewards are bound to be priceless.

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