The change that counts is not change of men, but change
in men, change in our hearts.
The history of man is written in violence. The Holy Scriptures tell us that Cain started the use of violence. He murdered his brother Abel after God found more favor in Abel’s offering. Since then, and until now, man has not overcome the urge to resort to violence in order to dominate. The result is tragic. Man has never been at peace with himself and is always at war with his fellowmen. The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) correctly described the condition of man when he declared “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
Scottish Rite Masonry stands for freedom. The bells of freedom ring in our creed as it proclaims “Human progress is our cause; liberty of thought our supreme wish; freedom of conscience our mission; and the guarantee of equal rights to people everywhere our ultimate goal.” There is hardly any institution that has contributed more to the cause of human freedom than Masonry. In my beloved country, the Philippines, the honor roll of heroes is nearly monopolized by Masons led by Bro. Jose P. Rizal, our national hero and now conceded as the pride of the Malayan race. Indeed, the first democracy in Asia was established in the Philippines, and its foundation stone was laid by freedom-loving Filipino Masons.
Brother Jose P. Rizal
In the fight for the freedom of man, Masons have to struggle against the violence of the inhuman. The struggle is inevitable, for part of the lower nature of man tends to be authoritarian, and it tries to dictate by means of violence. All over the world, the strong bludgeon the weak, the haves exploit the have-nots, the powerful push down the powerless. The use of violence diminishes if not destroys freedom; hence, Masonry is committed to the eradication of violence of all types and stripes.
This commitment has a high cost and has meant an offering of life and limb to a lot of Masons. It is a struggle where Masons often start as a minority, sometimes even as a minority of one. Even if they did so with blood and tears, in God’s own season, however, they achieved victory against those who would destroy freedom by means of violence.
In the third millennium, Masonry should be concerned with much more than the political freedom of man. Masons should occupy themselves with the freedom of man from his lower self. The Masonic scholar Walter L. Wilmshurst counsels us that to attain this objective, Masonry should teach man, first, to purify and subdue his sensual nature; then, to purify and develop his mental nature; and, finally, to surrender utterly his old life in order to save his new life. When Masonry succeeds in teaching man to subdue his sensual self, it can make a final claim to victory over violence. Then and only then can it guarantee the reign of peace among men. Consequently, the fight that every Mason should fight and win is the fight between the spiritual and the sensual nature of man. Scottish Rite philosopher Albert Pike well reminds us:
“This is that battle of life which is waged in the breast of every individual. Than this, no more important battle is ever fought. Alexander conquered the world and wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. His animal nature conquered Alexander and caused him to die in drunken revelry in the streets of Babylon. Caesar, fired by love of country, led the Roman legions through a thousand battles to a thousand victories. Love of material self induced him to commit the fatal act of placing on his own brow the crown of the Roman government and thus caused his sudden downfall. Napoleon unthroned kings and emperors of Europe and made them captives at his will. His selfish nature held Napoleon captive at its will, swept behind, and caused him to be banished to a lonely island.... Men everywhere overcome the obstacles to what they consider success, then yielding to the demands of their lower nature utterly fail to fulfill any useful mission in life and die unwept, unhonored, and unsung.”
The most important battle of Masons, then, is the battle to eliminate the evil in the hearts of men. The fight that matters is not to be fought in our streets, it is not to be fought in our jungles, it is not to be fought in outer space but in that little, inner space within us--in our hearts.
For the change that counts is not change of men but change
in men, change in heart. Only when men can achieve this inner change, only
when men are able to make their higher selves rule their lower selves or,
in Masonic language, only when men succeed in lifting the compass of life
above the square of life, will there be peace. Then and only then will
there be freedom without violence. This is the mission of Masonry in the
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