When a Man is at work he is making use of himself, including his body, as the means to make or produce something which is necessary to him if he and his family are not to perish. While he works he works with materials, machines, implements, tools, heat, steam, electricity, force, chemicals, weights, water - there is never any telling what; and almost any one of these may under some circumstances be dangerous to him, may crush him to death, or shear off a foot, or mash a hand, or blind him, or deafen him, or damage him internally, or may poison him, or infect him with disease. Each and every occupation has its occupational diseases and its occupational hazards, and though it may safeguard itself with every safety device ever invented a certain number of the men who work in it will become occupational casualties.
When any enterprise is set up and organized in any of the fields of work to make use of any of the forms of work it must expect these casualties and in its plans and organizations it ought to provide for them, their care and remedy; and the cost of that care and remedy ought to be included in the total amount of money which that particular enterprise will cost the nation - and it does not matter what may be the nature of that enterprise as long as men and women must work in it; it may be housekeeping, or farming, or practicing medicine, or writing books, or coal mining, or preaching, or railroading, and so on. There will be casualties in it; they will, most of them, be unavoidable, and their care and remedy will cost money; the amount of that money, along with provisions for the cure and remedy ought to be a part of the organization of the enterprise, and the cost of them, to repeat, ought to be included in the total (and social) cost of that enterprise. These inevitable and unavoidable casualties with their remedy and care, this is what is meant by relief. This relief is therefore an Ancient Landmark in any of the forms or fields of work, and in any possible enterprise which may be organized, therefore it belongs to what work is; and any definition of work must include relief because unless relief is provided for, work cannot go on. It will thus be seen at a glance that relief belongs to a category of things unlike other categories with which we, in our carelessness of thought and speech, have so often confused it.
If a man refuses to work he falls into poverty and he and his dependents will starve to death unless they are fed by the community's organized charities, or he is sent to a workhouse where he is fed at the expense of tax-payers; there is nothing in common between his "case" and that of a locomotive engineer, who when at work and in the prime of life, is suddenly made a helpless cripple for the rest of his years by a wreck for which he was not responsible; to call the care given to him and the care given to the pauper by the same name of charity is a ghastly perversion of language. If a man has in his character a normal amount of what we call goodness and if in consequence he is always willing to give out of himself something another is in want of, he is said to be benevolent, and his acts are acts of benevolence. If a man of means pays for, or endows, a hospital, library, church, park, museum, and does it out of love for his neighborhood or his community he is a philanthropist - a word which defines itself since it is composed of two Greek words meaning "a friend" and "man"; he is a friend of man. Only a barbarian or a savage could ever question charity, benevolence, or philanthropy; they are not being questioned here, either individually or by implication but it must be obvious that no one of them is even remotely similar in its occasion, purpose, means, or spirit to relief. Relief belongs to the world of work necessarily and forever, in the sense that tools do, or materials used, or wages paid; no enterprise could be set up in the expectation of employing workmen, workmen could never organize themselves in a body to work together, unless they included relief in their plans or their organization.
If the need for relief is inherent in the nature of work it follows that the cost of the care and remedy is to be assessed against the total cost of the work done; it is this fact which many men find it difficult to grasp or to understand, though it appears to be sufficiently obvious. If when coal miners are at work the roof caves in on them and one of them must be sent to the hospital for six months, it surely is plain that such a man is not in the same case as another man who lies in the same hospital from having driven an automobile while drunk. If you work in mines through your adult years you have only one chance in twenty of not being hurt at least once; the danger of being hurt is inherent in the work of mining, and since it is, the cost and responsibility for that danger belongs not to the miners but to mining; housekeeping and farming are almost as dangerous as mining; lumbering is equally dangerous; being a soldier or a sailor in war is far more dangerous; men in many of the arts and professions have non-hazardous work yet run the risk of contagious diseases because they work with crowds or with the sick and the diseased; even the most sedentary occupations, such as scholarship, research, writing are hazardous because they are so wearing on the eyes, brains, and nerves - when the Ancient Greeks linked poetry and madness together they did not miss the mark even in a medical sense, because the rate of insanity and suicide among poets has always been exceptionally high. Nobody has ever yet discovered a form of work without hazards of its own, and those hazards always go along with it and belong to it as water always goes along with the work of a sailor. Freemasonry has known this fact for at least eight centuries; in the first Lodge formed by the first Freemasons relief was one of the rules organized in it.
"The Three Principal Tenets" is a phrase which carries in it no charge of excitement; it is a flat, inert, almost lifeless phrase, and has about it the somewhat pompous atmosphere of the English language as it was used by Samuel Johnson and his contemporaries - it is not even wholly impossible that Samuel Johnson helped to author it because it was William Preston who gave it its Masonic currency, and Preston and Johnson were friends, and Johnson was very probably (though not certainly) a Mason; Masonic historians ignore the phrase, Masonic essayists have discovered it with reluctance. Masonic poets have not sung about it, even the great mass of literature on the Ritual has little to say about it; the words in it belong to that type of vocabulary which Johnson himself described as "soporific" because they put a reader or a listener to sleep. (There is too much of this soporific vocabulary in the Standard Monitor.) But none of this is as it should be; "the Three Principal Tenets" are not archaic or thin, or soporific, and any Mason can find this to be true for himself if he will dig into them. "Principal" means that which comes first, which is most urgent, or most necessary, or which must be done before other things can be done. The "Three" implies that while among the tenets three are thus at the front and are most urgent there are other tenets-there are possibly as many as forty tenets clearly distinguishable in the Ritual. It is significant to see that Relief is numbered among the three!
"Tenet" is a curious word, and to an etymologist is an exciting word partly because its history winds in and out and back and forth and is hard to trace - it is doubtful if even a Sherlock Holmes could trace it through all its ramifications; and partly because in the word itself there is something exciting and dramatic. Ten was an Anglo-Saxon name for the number which is found by adding one to nine; but it is possible that this Anglo Saxon ten goes back to a very old Sanskrit word meaning the ten fingers on the two hands. It is even more probable that the Latins made up their word teneo from an original meaning the ten fingers because teneo meant to grasp tightly with both hands, to hold on for dear life, to refuse to let go; and it still carries that meaning, or a ghost of it, in our tenacious, tenant (who has a "hold" or possession of property; freehold is an Anglo-Saxon form), tenement (the property on which a tenant has a "hold"), tenon (from the French form of teneo), tenor (a man who can hold his voice at a pitch), tenure as the direction to hold to, etc., etc. Of these many forms of teneo our tenet is by far the most interesting because it carries in it a graphic idea: a tenet is a teaching, doctrine, or principle which a man takes hold of with (as it were) both hands, to which he holds on through thick and thin, which he clings to with tenacity ("glued to it"), which he will not let go until the last gasp, and at any cost to himself. Instead of the thin and lifeless word which we in our casualness or indifference have so often taken it to be, it is in reality a very masculine, exciting word. It is therefore, to repeat, significant to find that Relief is a Principal Tenet; if any reader should demur to this, if according to his taste, an exaggeration has been committed, let him read the history of Freemasonry; Relief was a Tenet in the first Lodge, a principal tenet, and though during the centuries since that first Lodge the Fraternity has weathered many changes, and been through the wars, and been battered without and within, it still keeps a fast hold on Relief - not once has it ever let it go. If it is not a Tenet in the historical and full sense of that word, nothing is. Operative Masons kept a grasp on it with both hands; Speculative Masons keep the same grasp; Freemasons always will, because if ever the Fraternity were to let go of it, Freemasonry would cease.
Since the tenets of our Craft, Operative and otherwise, were incorporated in it by the Operative Freemasons, there is no need for any Masonic student to look far to discover why Relief was one of them. Operative Freemasonry was as hazardous as mining and lumbering are now, perhaps more so; the craftsmen worked with stones, weighing from fifty pounds to three or four tons; they had none of our modern heavy machines for hauling, or lifting, or placing them; their elevators, ladders, and scaffolds were wood; their tools were of a shape to bruise or cut, and they were made of heavy metal; and there were always the hazards which ensue from working on heights, with men above and below and about, where if a tool, or a stone, or a piece of timber slipped from a hand or broke off or fell every workman in range was under risk of being struck by it. Along with these immediate and manual risks went the hazards which go along with working in the open where a sudden rain could blind a man's eyes, or the snow could make a plank slippery, or cold could numb the fingers, etc. Of the 1500 cathedrals erected scarcely one but paid its tax in blood, and more than one Craftsman was buried under the pavement of a church he had helped to erect. Since almost the only safety device they had to use consisted of the caution, knowledge, and skill of the men themselves we can understand why they swore in an Apprentice to obey, and keep the rules, and not be careless with an oath of an almost fierce earnestness.
But this was not the end of their hazards - not in the Middle Ages when the average span of life was only twenty-two or twenty-three years. The Freemasons lived, most of them, in small villages or else were crowded together in narrow quarters inside a walled town. There was almost no surgery, and very little medicine; babies were delivered by midwives; against contagion they had no protection, and when a plague or an epidemic arrived they, like everybody else, were helpless; fires, the chronic calamity of the Middle Ages with its towns full of wooden buildings, were almost as much dreaded as epidemics, and more numerous. Under such circumstances, what would you? What the Freemasons did was to organize themselves, with their families included, into a single, solid Community, and this Community made itself responsible for the unavoidable misfortunes of its own members - as for the avoidable misfortunes, the drunkard, the idler, the criminal, and other such ilk as live by preying on their fellows they dealt with them by an act of surgery; they expelled them, and drove them forth. Relief, one of their Principal Tenets, and as principal then as now, was exactly as described in the beginning of this chapter, the care and remedy for the casualties in the world of work. Any one of them, as a man or as a woman, could be as charitable, as benevolent, as philanthropic as he desired, but it was Relief which was the law of the Craft, and every Mason had willy nilly to contribute his own share to it in exactly the same way, and for a like reason, that he had to contribute his own share of the work.
When the ancient Operative Craft was put
to the new Speculative uses the old law of Relief was not altered
an iota, except that it was made to apply to members in any other
craft, or in any other form of work. The members of our own Speculative
Lodges may choose, individually, or collectively, when and as
they desire, to give their money or time to charity, or benevolence,
or philanthropy - being the men they are the majority of them
probably so choose oftener than the majority of other men; but
on the question of Relief they have no choice; it is a Landmark,
a Tenet; it does not brook of any "if" or "and";
it is the law; the money spent by a Lodge for Relief is like the
money spent for the sake of any of the other Masonic Purposes,
it is part of the cost of operating the Lodge, and it therefore
is included in the dues which are each member's equal share in
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