David Kruger, 33
S.G.I.G. in Virginia
Grand Secretary General of The Supreme Council, 33
Alexandria, Virginia

No nation can long survive the loss of its values which are, ultimately, based on its families.

The earliest set of laws ever discovered, the famous code of Hammurabi, specifically provides protection for the family. This famous king of Babylon understood, as thoughtful political leaders have always understood, that stable and secure families are the first essential for stable and secure governments.

More than 1,100 years after the death of Hammurabi, Cyrus the Great of Persia ordered that the Jews be allowed to leave their captivity in Babylon and return to Jerusalem. Families were to be reunited. Known as an exceptionally wise and good king, Cyrus understood that the family is the soul of any nation or people.

Cyrus had lived half his life when, in China, the great sage Confucius was born. A gifted reformer of government and profound philosopher, Confucius taught over and over again the central importance of the family. Unless the family is strong, he taught, China will be weak.

It is surely not coincidental that, from ancient times, people have believed the foundation of any social unit-tribe, village, city-state, or nation-is the family. In many ways, the virtues we praise in a nation-courage, unity, patriotism, compassion, industry, faith, belief in the future, awareness of heritage-are simply the virtues of the family, written large.

Where else are people to learn?

We admire courage in a people, whether it is courage shown in time of war or in time of natural disaster. But that courage is learned not on a battlefield nor as a volunteer helping to evacuate the victims of a flood, but around the family dinner table or in a hospital at the bedside of a loved one as children watch the adults face stress and calamity, and not yield.

We admire the unity of a nation, which can weld a people into a community of common intent, whether to mobilize for defense or to pursue some great national objective. But that unity is learned in the home, where a foundation of love and trust and common purpose teaches the child to lay aside self-interest.

We value patriotism, and its source is the family when, celebrating the 4th of July and other national holidays, the child asks the reason for the fireworks and parades, and the parents explain by telling the stories of our nation’s founding.

We admire compassion in a nation, as when a people give of their resources to help others they will never see in a land of which they have only heard, or when a nation accepts and helps refugees, or victims of oppression. But that compassion is not learned from books or from television. It is learned from the example of caring, loving parents.

Industry, faith, hope are all learned in the home where values are transmitted, examples set, errors corrected, and self-discipline taught. The child who learns to take responsibility for tasks around the house automatically learns the value of industry. The young person who sees that faith plays a central role in the lives of his parents will almost certainly develop a strong faith. Hope for the future is learned from the way family members face each new day.

Historically, in America, the family has been strong. Historically, in America, that strength has provided the national values we cherish.

Babylon was one of the first great cities. Its rich and enduring culture lasted more than a thousand years. But Babylon has also come to stand for the decadence which leads to destruction. In that culture’s last days, the people of Babylon came to care more for luxury and ease than for virtue and industry. Babylon lost its identity-its core of values. And Babylon the mighty, fell.

There is a lesson here for us, if we hope to avoid the path from Babylon the mighty to Babylon the fallen. Lizards today inhabit the streets where once the feet of a happy and prosperous multitude trod.

No nation, no matter how glorious and powerful its past, can long survive the loss of its values. If the family is lost, if the family no longer transmits its values, then the nation is doomed. Its fall may not be sudden, but it is certain. That is the reason so many leaders, over so many centuries, have stressed the importance of family. Their concerns have not been philanthropic or based on a vague desire to recreate some “golden time, those days of old, when children did as they were told.” They were, instead, dealing with the survival of their nations.

So are we.

As the strength of the family has declined in America, problems have increased. Rioting, vandalism, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and a general loss of purpose, idealism, and integrity have been noted by many. And the increase of these problems is real and can be demonstrated. If we wish to avoid the fate of Babylon, we must act to strengthen the family.

There are practical things we can do.

-Encourage our legislators to look carefully at tax policies which work against the family.

-Support, with our purchases, companies making strong commitments to the families of their employees, providing family leave time, on-site child care, and other benefits which help the family to grow.

-Work against programs which, however well intentioned, take authority from parents and transfer it to the state.

-Insist on quality in our local schools and do everything possible to strengthen the involvement of parents with the schools.

-Give volunteer time to programs which strengthen the family. For example, serve as foster grandparents, mentors in schools, work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs.

There are many other ways in which every Scottish Rite Mason can help to strengthen the families in his community. It may be the most important personal commitment you will ever make. Each individual, every man and woman will decide, by their actions and commitment, whether we shall go from strength to strength-or from Babylon to Babylon.