Brethren, this is a problem in respect to which I do not know the answer, but I can only hope, that as a result of the thoughts which I express, the authorities might be able to give some practical guidance.
Our difficulties commence right from the time of the proposal of a candidate and when I say “our difficulties”, I generalize because they are not applicable to one Lodge alone, they apply to all of us.
A candidate is proposed, his name is circularized to the members of the Lodge – his referees are circularized - the answers are usually stereotypical and do not give us much information - he is interviewed for a very short time, and his home is visited. From that scant information a Committee of Inquiry is then asked to judge whether he will make a good mason – whether in particular he will be a good aspirant to the chain of the Lodge.
In my view this leads us to take many chances, the result of which is often disappointment.
There are many applicants who we think can comprehend – their tongues are fluent or they have the appearance of affluence. Does this mean to say this man will make a better mason than the man who might appear a little slower – not so affluent, with a less easy tongue? Do we from our short acquaintance know what beats in his heart? No brethren! It is almost impossible! It may be much better if before we interview a candidate his proposer comes before a committee of inquiry to discuss with us fully everything he knows of the candidate, during all the years he has known him, because the information given on the forms which are filled in is indeed very scant in the information provided.
What if we feel that a man will not aspire to the Chair, or might not become a good ritualist? Is he to be debarred from coming into our Order? I say no! despite the fact that there are many who, through snobbishness and other reasons, say yes!
Give me the man in whose breast there beats a tolerant and understanding heart, one who can understand the difficulties and misfortunes in life and even if he sits on our columns as a wall-flower he will make a far better Mason than many who are already with us – because he will be the better enabled to understand our tenets and practice Freemasonry in the mundane world. And in my view that is what we sorely need and our columns would be more full than they are.
“We should firstly become Judges of ourselves”
In the Book of Judges – in the volume of the Sacred Law – we are told to take unto ourselves Judges and overseers and one commentator on this says before we can do this we should firstly become Judges of ourselves, in other words observe the lesson of the First Degree “Know thyself”, because until we do this we are not competent to judge or assess those who come to join us.
In the same book of Judges we are told “Follow Righteousness” “Chase after it”. I venture to say that until we understand what Righteousness is, we cannot know ourselves and therefore cannot judge others. Brethren, when King Solomon who was 12 years old on succeeding to the Throne was asked by the Almighty what gift do you want from me – we are taught that he asked for a Wise, Understanding and Tolerant heart. I think in the absence of any other guidance this is the answer to the questions which I posed on my opening remark.
I pray to the Great Architect of the Universe that I and each and everyone of us should be endowed with a Wise, Understanding and Tolerant heart so that we shall be enabled to follow His Commandments in Justice and Truth, and face the tasks which daily confront us.