The people that does not subjugate the propensity of the wealthy to avarice, ambition, and sensuality, expel luxury from them and their families, keep down pauperism, diffuse knowledge among the poor, and labor to raise the abject from the mire of vice and low indulgence, and to keep the industrious from starving in sight of luxurious festivals, will find that it has cherished, in that avarice, ambition, sensuality, selfishness, and luxury of the one class, and that degradation, misery, drunkenness, ignorance, and brutalization of the other, more stubborn and intractable despots at home than it ever encountered in the field; and even its very bowels will be continually teeming with the intolerable progeny of tyrants.
These are the first enemies to be subdued; this constitutes the campaign of Peace; these are triumphs, difficult indeed, but bloodless; and far more honorable than those trophies which are purchased only by slaughter and rapine; and if not victors in this service, it is in vain to have been victorious over the despotic enemy in the field.
For if any people thinks that it is a grander; a more beneficial, or a wiser policy, to invent subtle expedients by stamps and imposts, for increasing the revenue and draining the life-blood of an impoverished people; to multiply its naval and military force; to rival in craft the ambassadors of foreign states; to plot the swallowing up of foreign territory; to make crafty treaties and alliances; to rule prostrate states and abject provinces by fear and force; than to administer unpolluted justice to the people, to relieve the condition and raise the estate of the toiling masses, redress the injured and succor the distressed and conciliate the discontented, and speedily restore to every one his own; then that people is involved in a cloud of error, and will too late perceive, when the illusion of these mighty benefits has vanished, that in neglecting these, which it thought inferior considerations, it has only been precipitating its own ruin and despair.
While every ox and horse can find work, and is worth being fed, it is not always so with man. To be employed, to have a chance to work at anything like fair wages, becomes the great engrossing object of a man’s life. The capitalist can live without employing the laborer, and discharges him whenever that labor ceases to be profitable. At the moment when the weather is most inclement, provisions dearest, and rents highest, he turns him off to starve. if the day-laborer is taken sick, his wages stop. When old, he has no pension to retire upon. His children cannot be sent to school; for before their bones are hardened they must get to work lest they starve. The man, strong and able-bodied, works for a shilling or two a day, and the woman shivering over her little pan of coals, when the mercury drops far below zero, after her hungry children have wailed themselves to sleep, sews by the dim light of her lonely candle, for a bare pittance, selling her life to him who bargained only for the work of her needle.
Fathers and mothers slay their children, to have the burial-fees, that with the price of one child’s life they may continue life in those that survive. Little girls with bare feet sweep the street-crossings, when the winter wind pinches them, and beg piteously for pennies of those who wear warm furs. Children grow up in squalid misery and brutal ignorance; want compels virgin and wife to prostitute themselves; women starve and freeze, and lean up against the walls of workhouses, like bundles of foul rags, all night long, and night after night, when the cold rain falls, and there chances to be no room for them within; and hundreds of families are crowded into a single building, rife with horrors and teeming with foul air and pestilence; where men, women and children huddle together in their filth; all ages and all colors sleeping indiscriminately together; while, in a great, free, Republican State, in the full vigor of its youth and strength, one person in every seventeen is a pauper receiving charity.
How to deal with this apparently inevitable evil and mortal disease is by far the most important of all social problems. What is to be done with pauperism and over-supply of labor? How is the life of any country to last, when brutality and drunken semi-barbarism vote, and hold offices in their gift, and by fit representatives of themselves control a government? How, if not wisdom and authority, but turbulence and low vice are to exalt to senatorships miscreants reeking with the odors and pollution of the hell, the prize-ring, the brothel, and the stock-exchange, where gambling is legalized and rascality is laudable?
He follows it up saying:
Masonry will do all in its power, by direct exertion and co-operation, to improve and inform as well as to protect the people; to better their physical condition, relieve their miseries, supply their wants, and minister to their necessities. Let every Mason in this good work do all that may be in his power.
Take a moment and digest what it says to you.