MEN WHO BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS

Written By: Admin - Jun• 07•15

MEN WHO BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS

By: R.W. Rev. Richard D. Campbell.
Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New York,
at the Sigma Lodge of Perfection in Schenectady, N.Y.

INTRODUCTION

You have all seen pictures of the famous “leaning Tower of Pisa.” You know
it leans precariously many degrees from the perpendicular. An American
tourist, seeing the Tower for the first time, was not impressed. He
grumbled, “that looks like the work of the same contractor who built my
garage!”

Masons are builders! In fact, a famous Mason named Joseph Fort Newton wrote
a book about our Craft called The Builders. All Freemasons know that we
trace our traditional origins to the ancient craftsmen who participated in
the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Most also realize that the
forerunners of modern Masonic Lodges were the medieval lodges of devout
craftsmen. Few, however, may be aware that the cornerstone of the U.S.
Capitol was laid by Masons in 1795. Not brick masons. Free Masons! The Grand
Lodge of Maryland reportedly sponsored the ceremony. And, a painting by
Stanley Massey Arthurs shows the Father of our Country, George Washington,
at the ceremony dressed in Masonic regalia.

Today we like to say we are no longer “operative masons.” We are
“speculative Masons” -which means we do not build physical buildings or
other structures. our building task is symbolic. We build character. We
build good men. We build just and honorable relationships. We build
brotherhood .

DISCUSSION

1. Let us put it this way good Masons do not build walls or fences. Our work
is not to separate or divide people. Our fraternity ought never to isolate
or alienate human beings from each other.

An interesting fact is that the original Americans never built fences or
walls. Private ownership of land and property boundary lines were strange
notions to Native Americans. The Europeans brought that concept to these
shores! The Indians never walled out other Indian nations or European
settlers from their land. They were welcoming and open. They believed in
sharing.

Masons do not wall out men because of creed or physical characteristics. We
have never excluded people on the basis of strict doctrinal standards. Ours
is an inclusive brotherhood which welcomes Jews, Christians, Moslems, and
persons of other religions. We only ask for a basic belief in God and a
dedication to moral living. We welcome all men who intend to build their
lives and their relationships according to the compass of virtue, the plumb
line of morality, and the square of ethics.

We disagree strenuously with any church leader who says a Christian cannot
be a Mason without compromising his beliefs or his allegiance to Christ and,
therefore, that Masonry should have a Christological test for membership.
That was the misconception of the minister who resigned from Masonry and
wrote denunciatory letters to the editor about our fraternity. That was the
mistake of another minister who wrote a sermon 35 years ago attacking
Masonry. Titled “Freemasonry and Christianity” and now being circulated,
this sermon said in part:

If Masonry asks its initiates to acknowledge and confess Jesus Christ as
Lord and the true God, then Masonry’s God is the true God. But if Masonry
does not require its members to confess and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord
and the true God, then the God of Masonry is not the true God! That reminds
us of the smug, self-righteous fellow who spoke condescendingly to someone
who belonged to a different denomination. He sniffed: “that’s alright. We’re
both just trying to serve the Lord you in your way and I in His! ”

That spirit has no place in Masonry! Nor does the attempt to impose some
kind of doctrinal “litmus-test” on members and potential members. That is
building walls between people. Masons do not build walls and fences. We
agree with Robert Frost when he writes, “Something there is that doesn’t
love a wall.” The poet takes exception to the man who says “good fences make
good neighbors.” So do we! Like Frost, we ask:

“Why do they make good neighbors! Isn’t it where there are cows? But here
there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling
in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence.” II. Masons do
not build walls. We build bridges. Bridges connect. Walls divide. Bridges
enhance communication. Walls obstruct communication. Bridges promote
friendship. Walls cause isolation. Webster defines a bridge as: “any
structure -raised to afford convenient passage over river, railroad, ravine
or any other obstacle. ”

Masons build bridges of understanding. We connect people by brotherhood. We
construct passageways of friendship between persons who may differ in Church
or language or race. We build tolerance as a conveyance that brings human
beings together. Building bridges of friendship is at the heart of Masonry.
For example, an item appeared March 24, 1985 in the New York Times. Here is
what it said:

“Religious pluralism has long been a hallmark of the Masons, as is seen by
the annual family dedication breakfast this morning of the Grand Lodge of
Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. About 2,000 members of
the fraternal order and their families will gather at 8 a.m. at three sites
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic) at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street;
St. Bartholomew’s Church (Episcopal), at Park Avenue and 50th Street, and
the east 55th Street Conservative Synagogue (Jewish), between First and
Second Avenues. After the services, the Masons will assemble and parade
together to the Sheraton Centre for breakfast.”

That is what we mean by Masonry building bridges! Someone named E. Larsen
has summed it up in a little piece which is appropriately titled “Building
Bridges.”

BUILDING BRIDGES

People, like islands, need bridges a way to cross over, speak, reach, see,
over all that silent water. It is the only way. Because people aren’t
people, not real people, without that bridge; and the only action, the only
REAL action, takes place on the bridge between people. So if I wait, you
wait, everyone waits; when I don’t start, you don’t start. Nobody arrives.
No builders, no bridges. The meaning of the world doesn’t change; it always
stays the same hopes, same challenges, same tragedies, same fears and
victories. What does change is my involvement with it my awareness, my
understanding, my growth. And growth is only a deepening of what passes
between you and me what passes on the bridge.

CONCLUSION

What could be better than to be a builder of bridges between persons and
groups? What could be a better way to be remembered when we are gone? Would
we not like people to say of us “He was a builder of bridges”?! Can you
think of a more noble cause? Can you imagine anything truer to the purposes
of Freemasonry? In his book, “The Builders,” Joseph Fort Newton suggests a
challenge with which I would like to leave you. He tells us the mission of
Masonry is “to form mankind into a great redemptive brotherhood” (pg. 267).
He capsulizes the spirit of Masonry by daring us “to be friends with all
men, however they may differ from us in creed, or conditions; to fill every
human relationship with the spirit of friendship.” And, finally, with the
words of an old hymn by John Oxenham:

“Join hands, then,

Brothers of the faith,

What e’er your race may be;

Who serves my Father as a son

Is surely kin to me.”

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