Freemasonry has built around the early tenets a great ideal of life and service. We find the division of the day into three periods (eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, eight hours for rest) a necessity of modern industrial life which members of the Masonic Fraternity were quick to understand and urge.
I think the struggle of the toiling masses for a freer, better life, for better citizenship and fuller understanding must find among Masons an immediate, intelligent sympathy.
After all, there is much in common between all groups which are organized around great ideals. The same passion for fair dealing, for justice, for the development of the individual, for greatness and freedom of opportunity is found in the trade union movement and in the Masonic Fraternity.
If men everywhere could bring themselves to do no unfair thing, we should find a measurable fulfillment of Masonic ideals, of trade union ideals, and of the ideals of the great religions of the world.
We have in the labor movement the abuses that are common to humanity. We are, as individuals, no better and no worse than others. But we have put our collective force behind certain high aims in which we believe, and which have proven their worth through the most severe tests.
The trade union movement did not come into being because someone wanted it. It came into being as an economic necessity. Coming as a necessity, it has sought to function to the best advantage and in a manner to bring the largest possible good to the largest possible number of men and women.
When individual handicraft gave way to factory production, the individual workman lost his power to stand on anything like an even footing with the employer. It became necessary for the wage earners to organize and to function as collective units. With organization came the practice of joint negotiation between powerful employers and great groups of wage earners.
This practice has resulted in maintaining a comparatively high standard of life and work in American industry. We have light where we would otherwise have had darkness. We have freedom where we would have had bondage. We have uprightness and courage where we would have had crouching and cringing. Nothing else has contributed more toward the making of manhood and womanhood fit for America than the labor movement of our country.
We are as proud as any of the industrial life of our country and of everything about it that makes for good leadership in a world which has in it so many dark places. We ask for understanding and helpfulness, and we also seek to possess them in our dealings with others.
Our practice must of necessity fit the needs of our time, but our goal is afar down the road, at a point which has not yet come within the range of our vision. We desire for humanity all of the good that is possible, and we are not presumptuous enough to pretend to know how much there may be in the future.