All great moral forces in men's lives permeate, and to some extent effect,
their business careers. A Sincere Christian will endeavor to live by the
golden rule. A Consistent church member will not be honest because it is
the best policy, but because he believes in honor. A real philosopher will
apply the principles of his study to his daily relations with trade and
commerce. A real Mason will act Masonically in business as well as in the
It is idle to say that Masonry is only for Masons. It is not. Masonry, if
it is to fill its promise, must be, in its esoteric aspects, as much for
the profane as for the Mason. Still more must Masonic principles be
applied when dealing with Masons.
But there are many abuses committed in the name of Masonic business,
against which the newly made Mason may well guard himself. Chief of these
is the demand, in the name of Masonry, for business favors which would
never be asked or granted without a Masonic background.
There is no real excuse for the stranger who comes to you pleading for your
indorsement on his note because of your common Masonry, and you are not
acting un-Masonically if you refuse it. It is far less Masonic to get than
to give, to ask than to offer, to demand than to propose. The Mason who
uses his Masonry as a means of getting, when without the Masonry he would
have no excuse, is not acting in a truly Masonic manner. Therefore, it is
not at all necessary that he who is asked should respond as he would to a
legitimate Masonic request. To a man who says to you:
You should do this because we have a common brotherhood;" you can well
reply: "You should not ask it because we have a common brotherhood."
Your real brother will not ask you to do that in the name of brotherhood
which he would not ask you to do in the name of friendship.
Yes, there are exceptions; many of them. The tales which might be written
of the instances in which the Masonic brotherhood feeling has saved men
from disaster are legion. A man in deep trouble may turn to his brethren
for help, when the man who only wants an accommodation in business is
outlawed before he starts. There was a Mason whom we will call Jim Jones,
because that was not his name. Jim was about to fail in business, through
no real fault of his own. Jim laid the matter before the Master of his
lodge. The Master called a couple of bankers into consultation, and the
loan needed was made, not as bankers to client, but as Masons to a Mason.
Five Masons signed the notes; and every note was paid. Here was a case
where a man had exhausted his commercial credit, and had to call on his
Masonic credit; it was a wise thing to do, and the Masonic aid was
beautifully given. But when Jim's neighbor, Smith, was ready to fail and
asked the same remedy for himself, he met with no success. He professed
himself as unable to understand why, if Masonry could help Jones, it could
help Smith. But the reason was patent to all who knew of the cases; Jones
was in danger through no fault of his own and Jones had a reputation, both
in business and Masonry, which made him a good risk. Smith was in trouble
because he lacked judgment and ability, and his reputation was good in
neither business nor Masonry.
We quote these little instances because it is difficult to phrase a rule as
to when Masonry may be used in business and when not. In general, it
should never be used when any other means is available. Masonry does not
contemplate that its followers lean on each other, but expects them to
stand upon their own feet. Masonry does not contemplate that the strong
shall carry the weak, the able supply ability for the feeble. Masonry is
not a panacea for social or business ills. A blood brother will help one
while he will help himself, will love one while he is lovable, and defend
one while he is weak, as long as he knows his brother will give him of his
own strength when he recovers it. But blood brothers will not, because of
mutual parentage, support one is he is a wastrel; lend to one if he is
dishonest; or prop one up if he stumbles, if one is not man enough to learn
to walk alone.
The Masonic brotherhood is modeled upon the tender relation of blood-
brother. Its most optimistic altruists do not believe it should go
If a rule be necessary, let it be this: Give, when you can, help sought;
ask help only when all other means fail. Offer the helping hand as often
as you have the strength to spare; use Masonry for a crutch only when its
absence will mean disaster.
Never forget, in a sentimental willingness to lose rather than to deny an
appeal, that when you aid a brother who has not the right to ask your aid,
you, as well as he, are injuring Masonry. If the superintendent of a
charitable organization receives a call for aid which he knows comes from
an undeserving source, he should not give the aid requested. But if he is
soft-hearted and yields, rather than say "No!", the result is that he
wastes aid which should go to the deserving, cheapens his organization in
the eyes of the recipient, and makes true charity ridiculous in the eyes of
Lest some say that this seems to draw back from giving aid, rather than
pressing forward to give it, let us reply that we truly believe it is
better to give Masonic help where is should not be given, than to deny it
where it should be given. But, we have a great regard for Masonry, and are
jealous of its reputa-tion; we hold it too high and too holy to look
equanimity upon its exploitation. We believe there is no more heart-
stirring appeal than that made in the name of Masonry, when it is proper to
be made; as a consequence, we must believe there is no more despicable act
than abusing Masonry for personal ends when the appeal is made and granted
Help your brother all you may; but never let your brother abuse your help,
your heart, or your Masonry. For Masonry is far, far greater than the
individual, and its purity and its preservation far more important than,
that we give ourselves the pleasure of saying "Yes," when the only Masonic
answer we can give is "No!"
The young Mason is faced with a question, almost as soon as he becomes a
Master Mason: "Must I trade only with Masons; is it un-Masonic to trade
with the profane?" He will submit this to older Masons and receive almost
as many different answers as the questions he asks.
We give here an answer which seems to us to be correct. But it should be
noted that others have rights to their opinions. In all questions which
have two sides there is room for argument and differing viewpoints. Since
this question is not of law, but of ethics, there is probably more than one
Masonry is not a mutual benefit society, in the sense that the Rochedal
Corporative Society is one. That and similar organizations are formed for
the purpose of promoting trade among members; they offer financial
inducements to trade with their members.
There is nothing like that in Masonry!
There is no Masonic obligation taken at the Altar which even hints that a
Mason must deal only with Masons. There is no Grand Lodge law, nor any
lodge by-law, which compels such trading.
It is, therefore, not a violation of any Masonic law or obligation not to
trade with a brother Mason. Any one who believes the contrary is
misinformed. Nor is there any unwritten law on the subject.
But there is an obligation of brotherhood. How far that is here to be
applied, every individual brother must decide for himself. If one has a
blood brother for whom one possesses a sincere affection, and that brother
sells, let us say, coal. That is, one would do so as long as the brother
sold good coal on its merit, and for as fair a price and with as good of
service as one could get from some non-relative. But if one's brother took
advantage of the relationship to charge a dollar more a ton, or to keep one
waiting and cold while he filled non-relatives' orders, one would speedily
change one's coal merchant!
It would seem that the same principle should apply in regard to one's
Masonic brethren. As between two merchants, one a profane, the other a
Mason, both giving the same goods at the same price and rendering the same
service, the Mason should receive the Mason's trade. But as between a
Mason selling at a high price and a profane selling at a lower one, as
between a Mason giving poor service and a profane giving good service, the
choice should be the other way.
This is not only good business, and good common sense, but good Masonry.
For Masonry should encourage progress and weed out the drones; it should
make its membership love Masonry for what it is, not for what it brings.
It should fight hard against any attempt to commercialize the Order, and
resent bitterly the use of its teachings for the making of money.
The Mason who says: "Trade with me because I am a Mason" is seldom a good
merchant. Certainly he has no pride of calling or willingness to stand on
his own feet. The Mason who says: "Trade with me because I give good goods
at an honest price" is upholding the dignity of his calling, and scorning
to take advantage of his Masonic brotherhood for the sake of making more
The man who must depend on Masonry to enable him to keep his store open is
not a good Mason.
It is a Masonic obligation to do one's best by one's family, to work hard
and honestly; and to get, as well as to give, value received for one's
labor. Paying more to a Mason than is necessary to pay to a profane is
injurious to one's family since it deprives them of something in order to
benefit a Mason who has no right to it.
As a general rule Masons are not the type and kind of men who wish to take
advantage of their Masonic brotherhood. The greater part of them scorn to
use Masonry to further business ends. The vast majority of Masons revere
their Masonry; they hold it high and sacred, and far apart from the money
changers and the marts of trade.
But there are exceptions who ask and expect to receive special
consideration because they are Masons. This is very sad and very bad! No
Mason has a right to ask or expect a discount from another Mason because of
mutual brotherhood. To use Masonry - the Fatherhood of God, the
Brotherhood of Man, the Religion of the Heart, the Philosophy of Life - to
get a ten percent discount on a purchase of garden hose, is to abuse
Give your trade to your Masonic friends because you like them, because you
know them to be good men and true, because they sell goods at honest
prices; hunt out the lodge member among the Masons to deal with because you
like him and want to help him. But deal with him because you want to help
him, not because you expect him to help you. If you sell instead of buy,
give the Mason the best you can in service, because you like him and wish
to help him, not because you feel you have any moral or Masonic right to
trade to which your name, your business methods and your standard of ethics
would not entitle you.
Hold Masonry high; keep its dignity, its reputation, unsullied. Do not mix
it up with money and with barter. For it was written: "Render therefore
unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's and unto God the things which be
Money and trade belong to Caesar.
Masonry in men's hearts belongs to God!