As a youth studying history, I was introduced to an unusual character known as Diogenes. The stories about the eccentric life of the Greek philosopher known as "The Cynic" fascinated me.
Born in Sinope about 412 B.C., Diogenes died 89 years later in 323 B.C. in Corinth. As a young man, he went to Athens where he was drawn to the ascetic teachings of Antisthenes. Diogenes became a student of Antisthenes and soon excelled his teacher both in reputation and in the austerity of his life. It is said that to accustom himself to the vicissitudes of weather, Diogenes lived in a tub that belonged to the temple of Cybele, the goddess of nature.
However, the one story about "The Cynic" that is most familiar to many people states that he constantly carried a lantern during his walks through the city to aid him in his search for an honest man.
Clearly, honesty, integrity, and goodness are not always evident in every individual one meets, and there is much in twentieth-century society that demonstrates this disturbing truth. Yet honest and good men do exist in human society, and their integrity of character is a stabilizing factor in it.
To use two time-honored phrases, they are the kind of people who are commonly called "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world." Without them and the influence they have, the social structure of human society becomes a victim of moral decay and, ultimately, it breaks apart.
The influence of such men is felt most keenly in the home. Honest and good men have a genuine sense of family responsibility. Looking well to the ways of their households, they do not eat the bread of idleness. Through honest toil, they seek to provide their families with those things that meet their needs. This sense of providing includes an awareness that members of their families need more than an abundance of things.
They also need companionship, togetherness, encouragement, love, a feeling of security, wholesome shared experiences, and moral principles to guide them in their daily living. Such families are the strength of any society.
At a time when cities are victimized by crime, streets are unsafe, a drug culture is destroying human life and homes are breaking apart, Masons have a unique opportunity to become a stabilizing force in society. They who have been taught the importance of integrity of character, the need for honesty in human relationships, and the necessity of moral principles to undergird human conduct. Masons can become the strength that saves our sagging society.