exists when good men do nothing
putting this paper together, I have attempted to approach the subject from three
Where we have come from?
Where we are now?
(third) I leave for you to
ponder and be the judge.
began Europe during the 18th Century and was brought about largely by
the industrial revolution. The invention of the steam engine created new
opportunities for the expansion of industry but brought hardship and social
problems for many.
improvement in medical science, coupled with improved Public health measures
reduced the death rate but added to the population base. In other words there
was a population explosion. The result was unemployment.
New markets had to be sourced, leading to a rush to explore and settle
the colonies of the new world.
many, as learning and knowledge increased, so they took on more responsibility
and expressed their views. With their new found skills they began to challenge
the church questioning it’s authority, by applying geometry and the new found
sciences. The commoner was no longer willing to sit back and accept all that was
being dished up. The period saw the uprising of Oliver Cromwell (who
incidentally was accused of being a Freemason), and his fight for a democratic
were other incidents such as the French revolution, with it’s struggle for
class equality. The emergence of the Huguenot groups and their challenge to the
Church. So you can see there was quite a social upheaval of
progressive and revolutionary thought.
the downside, crime and the consumption of alcohol had become a major problem.
Heavy drinking of cheap gin, popular amongst ordinary people in Britain led to
The British government imposing a tax, known as the Gin Tax, in order to control
it’s use, but also to finance the war in America. Such were some of the
problems of the new urban dweller.
was during this period and under these conditions that Freemasonry became
formalized. Thinking men, advocating rational and moral standards of conduct and
judgment, found the time right to set out principles for progress and happiness
and so it was that the English, Irish and Scottish constitutions became
constituted. The growth of Freemasonry was rapid with expansion into the new
world, spreading to America and the Colonies attracting leaders and men of
goodwill from all walks accepting each other on the level.
where is all that leading us -
the eighteenth century stage was decked out in very different costume to
this millennium but many of the circumstances are very similar to what we
have chosen to term this passage of time as the Age of
Technological enlightenment. - Good or bad i will leave it to you to
most of the world’s population is enjoying living standards way in advance of
our predecessors. We have the benefits of running water, proper sanitation,
electricity at the flick of a switch, smart cars, fast air travel, television,
and washing machines and so the list goes on
modern medicine has again extended life expectancy for many. In years past even
pregnancy could be viewed as risky, demanding several days stay in hospital.
Today young parents know the sex of the child before it is born and even
determine the birth date, birthing by cesarean sections and are out of the
Clinic or Hospital the next day. So we have come a long way and with new
technology we realize that there is more to come.
the world really a better place? With all of this we need to take a step
back and ask ourselves:
the world a better place?
have we lost the ideal to make the world a better place?
has happened to the “saying the truth well set you free”?
we have the gadgets but do we have the happiness.
new generation seems to be oblivious to some of the difficulties experienced by
their parents - they know nothing about the days before television, when
families stayed at home and listened to Springbok radio, or when you had to go
on a waiting list to get a post office telephone. Some of us were living at the
height of the 2nd world war or soon thereafter. Many had no cars and
(sometimes) waited in the rain for the next tram or trolley bus, and heaven
forbid if you missed the last bus at night. We all have stories to tell about
were no supermarkets or fast food outlets. Mother did the shopping and the
cooking, Dad went to work and earned the bread and we enjoyed the wholesome
bought our music on gramophone records and dared not play them unless we had a
sharp needle. Today they have Ipods (that fit into a shirt pocket) into which
they can download up to 2500 songs and they can even view movies in the palm of
their hand. If we were lucky enough to get pocket money we worked for it. Sadly
today, pocket money is often given in lieu of love, time and attention, so
parents do not ask too many questions about where it goes."
youngsters we never walked around with sheets looking for donations or sponsors.
Remember "BOB A JOB" we worked for it. Now, Children expect their
parents to give pocket money without giving anything in return. They want
designer clothes, (we had homemade clothes), motorbikes and motor cars and they
get them. (We were lucky if we owned a bicycle) Some no longer take school
lunches they are given money for a hot dog or pies from the tuck shop. Many
modern parents simply give in to the children to get them out of their hair -
there in lays the biggest problem.
blame bad behaviour on to much tartrazine in their diet or MSG flavouring in
foodstuff but where did the money come from and do they always know what it is
being spent on.
these parents certain that the money is being spent on that for which it was
selling of and experimentation with drugs amongst young people happens on the
school ground. It is not unusual for children as young as 10 or 11 to be
experimenting with hard drugs," says Captain Niekie Coetser of the
Narcotics Bureau of the South African Police Services.
is a tremendous amount of peer pressure among schoolchildren.
who have money to spend often use it to buy social acceptance, which in many
cases means drugs”.
years gone by, the class rebel smoked behind the bicycle shed and the class nerd
bought friends by handing out chocolates or some other favour.
any more let us take a look at the world we are living in.
to a recent survey published on the internet by a Drug Abuse Agency
1 in every 5 teenagers in South Africa experiment with drugs.
the past few months (here in South Africa). Three young people have died from
heroin overdoses. (Hard line drugs). These included a 14-year-old boy. As
youngsters, surely their main concerns should have been skateboards, pimples and
CDs? How does it happen that children barely out of primary school can overdose
on mainline drugs without the parents knowledge?
the time a child leaves high school, every single one would have come into
contact with drugs – whether they chose to use them or not. Between half and a
third of all males in Cape Town will have experimented with illegal substances
by the time they hit Grade 11." (A study by the drug rehabilitation centre
in Cape Town).
study on security in Durban schools found that “schools” are places where
drugs, thugs, and weapons move as freely through the gates as do the pupils.
to statistics provided by the Medical Research Council, there is a liquor outlet
of some kind for every 191 people in South Africa, So there certainly is no
shortage of alcohol in this country. It is estimated that 5,8% of the South
Africa’s young population above the ages of 15 years an are alcohol dependent
(put another way 3 out of 10 children binge drink at least once a month) and
this can usually be traced back to homes with an abundance of alcohol. In some
cases children as young as 12 years of age regularly consume alcohol.
to these statistics released by the University of Natal School of Medicine.
Suicide among children and adolescents in South Africa is on the increase, an
average, 9% of deaths of young
people are due to suicide. For every one fatal suicide, there are 20 suicide
attempts. One of the leading causes of suicide is psychological disorders, such
as depression. The signs of depression in teens include feeling sad, anxious or
empty; school performance that gets worse; loss of interest in social or sports
activities; too little or too much sleep; changes in weight or appetite. Surely
these are signs which should be recognized by a caring parent.
shortcomings, even those manifesting in later life can usually be traced back to
childhood, - a lack of love – neglect – bad example – some form of abuse,
and to list goes on. Children need close knit affection throughout their
developing years. They need to be talked to about the pitfalls of drugs,
HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy. How can a responsible parent or grandparent avoid
this and miss the signs?
all about having values.
from the Natal Daily News 2/12/2005
“Children to get contraceptives”
report goes “Children’s rights activists yesterday welcomed the fact that
MP’s had given the thumbs up for children as young as 12 to be allowed
contraceptives without their parents consent. A child rights activist is quoted
as saying “ It is important to delay the first sexual experience, but from all
our research, the best way to deal with it is to provide choice”.
this goes against the values we are attempting to implant in our children. And
is yet another example where rights activists are in conflict with those trying
to preserve family morals. Rights should be earned and not simply granted.
is the world a better place?
in spite of all this material comfort around us perhaps we have let things slip.
There is an increase in the incidence of “gangsterism” and hooliganism
amongst our younger generation
"When the pocket money runs out,
some children resort to crime to support their bad habits, often starting off
with stealing from their parents’.
That is where a life of crime starts.
read of shootings at schools, brutal attacks, drugs drinking and sexual
activities beyond their age amongst our young people. These activities are
happening right here in Durban, South Africa but are sadly repeated the world
is sad to say but today we are living in a society full to the brim with crime
and exploitation from the highest levels in commerce and government right down
to the grass roots and starting at a very young age.
our new culture teaches many “that it’s not illegal unless you get caught”
even then you probably still won’t get into trouble.
WHY? in this time of technological enlightenment are so many turning away from
what was known as "the straight and narrow"
Are VALUES, ETHICS, MORALS just buzzwords.
What do they mean?
Why are they important?
How do they affect our society?
emerging problems cannot and will not go away by policing or restricting or
banning the flow or supply or by locking up the child at home. The problem can
only be dealt with by instilling a set of values that will enable the child to
choose right from wrong, and those standards and values are set in the home.
Godliness must be brought to life. Let us take some encouragement from the fact
that if 1 in 5 are experimenting with drugs this means that 4 out of 5 possess
the values to say NO and we cannot afford to let this slip.
has changed in todays society AND WHERE DOES FREEMASONRY FIT IN?
I see it, a fundamental crisis has been caused by humanity turning away from
spiritual and moral values. In Masonic terms it can be said turning away From
the True God, the bigoted will disagree.
the other hand if I were to couch this in other terms and say it is a turning
away from religion and the moral values that underlie religious institutions,
(Such as non attendance at church) many more outsiders will agree.
as Freemasons find merit in both of the answers - we acknowledge that
Freemasonry alone cannot bring about the change needed to create a better world.
We do however go a long way to assist. The world would be worse off without the
principles, morals and ethics of some 5 million Freemasons.
young people need to be raised in that environment which sets moral and ethical
standards, beginning with the family. Young people learn by example, but how can
they learn if their peers behave the opposite.
live according to the Legend of Hiram Abiff
may be a mistake to accept this as history, but as a story and it’s meanings
should be the prize of all Master Masons. Hiram Abiff is the symbol of
the human soul. The work he was engaged upon we do when we supervise, organize
and direct our lives and that of our families from birth to death.
enemies he met are symbols of lust and passion, (ethics and morals) which make
war on our characters. The way in which he was raised from the dead level to the
perpendicular is the way by which any person can rise from low esteem, poor
values and self defeat to once again become moral. The temple in which Hiram was
involved is a symbol of mans character and therefore, breaks and falls when the
soul, it’s architect is helpless. Hiram was a moral man possessing a high
standard of ethics. He laid down his life rather than betray the given word,
which symbolizes not giving into immortality or participation in an anti social
act.. The story may seem harsh and its allegory is often used as a source to
attack us, but as masons we understand its deeper meaning and endeavour to
emulate it meaning.
morality and living ethically is not easy but is certainly rewarding.
are the days when ~. deal could be done at the shake of a hand or a promise
accepted by giving your word or a quotation done on the back of a cigarette box.
however we have amongst Freemasons - "Men of Honour” who still
believe in and subscribe to a moral code in their everyday lives.
(and for the time being) the numbers seem to be dwindling. We are not alone with
this problem, even our churches are empty and all service organizations are
struggling for membership but that does not deter us. We see the need for
Freemasonry as being greater now than it has ever been in the past.
are no longer encouraged to belong to Boy Scouts or Youth Brigades and yet these
organizations served as the seed beds of future community activity. For some
reason few in society today seem prepared to make any form of social commitment
or take on community responsibilities and this is the example they are setting.
and friends no longer visit.
it perhaps that in the past a family could survive on one bread winner working
40 hours a week whereas today it takes two breadwinners salary working 80 hours
it perhaps that the stressful working conditions fail to motivate working
parents from spending quality time with the family.
is it that parents seek for themselves some form of quick fix entertainment at
the expense of the children.
today’s world of instant this and instant that some parent even seek what can
be viewed as an instant divorce. Single parent families are at times the cause
of a dysfunctional environment for the children resulting in a social breakdown,
this is the case then to whom should the finger be pointed?
have role to play in grooming the next generation as they will also be looked up
to. As seniors we need to be an example and we can set this by the way we live
out our lives.
responsibility and moral upliftment are qualities that cannot be relaxed. Ethics
unlike most laws, are observed
only by ethical people, and honour is meaningless to individuals without a sense
of honour. So we (especially as freemasons) have to work at being honest and
ethical if we are to set that example.
provides us with moral lessons, and teaches us ethics which if applied to our
everyday lives will assist us to live ethically and morally and in so doing set
an example to those around us.
VSL is the source of our instruction and an inspiration for better living.
is NOT difficult to know right from wrong. Common sense and conscience is
inherent in all people and they have the knowledge to know the difference. We
have been given the right to choose and we will be judged according to our
Freemasons we need to be at the forefront of the fight to stop the degeneration
are to inculcate universal benevolence, and, by the propriety of your own
behaviour, to afford the best example for the conduct of others......... let no
motive therefore make you swerve from your voluntary obligations.
are charged to be GOOD CITIZENS and to set AN EXAMPLE - it is the obligation we
have vowed to uphold it.
hope I have not bored you to much with statistics and shocking realities but we
must become involved in programs of upliftment and social improvement,
just as our founders were. What is the use of living in a world of
technological enlightenment if we allow the next generation to become chemical
and social zombies because of our own neglect.
now the third perpective – Let me
leave these final thoughts for you to ponder on before you reach your verdict on
– The role of Freemasonry in this Age of enlightenment.
man progressed through the Stone Age, The Iron Age, The Bronze Age and passed
from the most primitive forms of the Feudal System, a Church ruled by fear,
burning those who would not conform, later to Monarchies free of the Churches
excessive demands onto as we have seen in Eastern Europe Monarchies and
democracies being overthrown by Dictators and Tyrants.. Even today new Tyrants,
new Dictators and Religious Fundamentalism are once again spreading - Yet we say
that we are living in an Age of Enlightenment. Slavery still exists in the form
of slaves to the habit of drugs and prostitution and vice. No law can eliminate
these. A change can only be brought about by healthy and noble values. Surely
this is the role Freemasonry has to play at this stage of the Age of
Enlightenment. Freemasonry was strong at the start of the Age of Enlightenment
– it must not be allowed to weaken now.