Brotherly Love – Relief – Truth

Nov 14, 2017 | Masonic philosophy | 0 comments

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In 1969 there was a song released by the Hollies. “HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY BROTHER”. Wikipedia gives an explanation for the title of the song as coming from a Vietnam War photo.

The image shows a wounded Vietcong soldier being carried on the back of an Amercian PI.

The journalist asked if he had been carrying the wounded man far, the soldier smiled at the camera and said, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. Try and picture the scene when you read the words:

If I’m laden at all – I’m laden with sadness
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there – Why not share
And the load – Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

The words of the song draws a picture of compassion and love among the mayhem of war. This compassion demonstrated by one man on a mission to kill and another man from the enemy side, cannot exist without a great deal of love and tolerance.

True Brotherly love is when a Freemason can show tolerance to another human in spite of the others conflicting opinions and failings. Hate the sin but love the sinner.

Tolerance is the unwritten law of Freemasonry. There can be no Brotherly Love without it.

Many will think of Masonic tolerance firstly in terms of religious tolerance or political tolerance. That is only one part of the picture. As we begin to fully appreciate the customs and traditions of Freemasonry, we realise how much deeper the meaning of tolerance goes.

Taking our instruction from the scriptures we are told to “Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who spitefully use us” (Luke 6:27-28)

The Old Testament tells us that we should conduct ourselves: …with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love”, (Ephesians 4:2)

The conclusion we can draw from the scriptures is that there is a direct link between tolerance and love.

A Freemason should be one who tolerates opinions and lifestyles differing from his own. He should also be prepared to defend another’s right to have a different opinion.

Tolerance can be said to be a Mason’s recognition of the right of private judgment including his own. The story behind the song “HE AIN’T HEAVY” illustrates the soldier’s tolerance without surrendering his own belief.

“He doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”.

We need to be tolerant of others, but we also need to be tolerant of ourselves too. Tolerance is not about surrendering our own beliefs or compromising our own values. It is about respecting another person’s right to hold different, even opposing views.

In reality, tolerance is about how best to work together in harmony. It is about accepting each other for who they are and what they are, and learning to be a better man before God and our fellow beings.

Freemasons are men drawn from all walks of life. We possess differing characteristics and opinions. We are brought together, in an unusual relationship of friendship, harmony and goodwill. It is normal that differences may occur within our own ranks, as they do within the best-regulated families. We may disagree but should never be disagreeable.

As Freemasons, we are reminded that when we were initiated we were charged to regulate our actions by the Divine precepts, to our neighbour; by acting to him uprightly; by rendering him every kind office that justice or mercy may require.

There is no issue that cannot be dealt with by a handshake and in most cases without need to alter one’s personal views. We cannot bring about peace and compassion without forgiveness and tolerance.

If we truly love another person and if we really practice Brotherly Love with our fellow beings – we will be tolerant of them. Again, I stress, tolerance does not mean endorsing the beliefs, or actions, of others.

However, it does mean a tolerant person will be willing to pardon the offense of another, be willing to forgive another, and not feel resentment. No man truly obeys the Masonic law who merely tolerates those whose opinions are opposed to his own.

We must be able to communicate and sit together in Brotherly Love putting aside our differences. Every man’s opinions are his own private property, and it is the right of all men to maintain their own opinion.

PEACE, LOVE and HARMONY are the foundation stones of our Order and life. We have committed ourselves to always act in such a way as to keep that foundation sound.

We are all traveling a long, long road from which there is no return. So, while we’re on the way to there … why not share …
And the load? Don’t let it weigh you down

If you have an adversary – don’t make him heavy, remember he’s your brother.


Article by Bro. Wito Schouten

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