THE PROMISE KEEPERS For hundreds of years, by precept and example, Freemasons have faithfully kept the covenant
By Melville H. Nahin, Grand Master
Sometime ago, I watched an organization on television called the Promise Keepers. A friend of mine had gone to one of their sessions at the Los Angeles Coliseum and was extremely impressed as was his wife. In recent years, the Promise Keepers seem to have come out of nowhere into a place of prominence in the promotion of family relationships and in a belief in a Supreme Being.
In recent month, the media has inundated our air waves and newspapers with programs and articles about them and their attendance at outdoor meetings for men. At our nations capitol, literally hundreds of thousands of men met and promised to he better family men, better citizens, and more attentive to religious needs.
I, like many of you, listened to the oratory and viewed their actions on television, read about them in the newspapers, and heard about them in, our television newscasts. While digesting all these programs, the thought occurred to me that Freemasons are the original promise keepers. We may not receive media recognition, but we surely have been in the forefront of promise keeping for Centuries.
Over 200 years ago, after our War for Independence, the Masons of the Colonies promised to build a nation of free people with equality for all. They promised Freedom to Assemble, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and countless other Freedoms. These all came to fruition when many of our brothers sat with nonMasons and conceived, wrote, and signed the Constitution of the United States and later the Bill of Rights. We Freemasons have kept our promises.
And even today, we in the Family of Freemasonry have promised charity, aid and assistance to all those needy and all those deserving and we have performed. Within the jurisdiction of our California Grand Lodge, we have provided our Masonic Homes for our senior citizens at Union City, and our home at Covina for Our young people. We have provided scholarships for those high school seniors going on to college and to greater achievement in their personal lives through our California Masonic Foundation. We call together teachers and administrators to our Home at Covina under our Masonic Students Assistance Training Program, and teach them to recognize the "at risk child" within, their schools by teamwork and by instructing others within their schools have literally saved the lives of thousands of children. Our Masonic Foundation has been instrumental now, with the assistance and cooperation of the Masonic Homes Board of Trustees, in having increased the number of sessions which we make available for these programs from eight to twelve each year, together with booster sessions. Our Kids Identification Program now seeks to protect small children from those who would harm or oppress them, by making identification easier through biographical and fingerprint and picture identification. We started with one unit, quickly secured a second unit, have now obtained a third unit and I understand through the good offices of Riviera Lodge a fourth unit will be on the way. We keep our promises.
Our Shrine Masons with their 22 pediatric orthopedic hospitals and burn centers treat thousands upon thousands of young people. The York Rite Eye Foundation and the Language Disorders Programs of the Scottish Rite and the scholarships given by those organizations as well as by our Order of Eastern Star arid our Amaranth, all of these we do for the benefit of others we contribute over $2 Million per day given by Masons arid Masonic Families to the Masonic charities and assistance organizations which we do sponsor and maintain. And all of these at no cost whatsoever to any of the recipients.
I am told that although almost three quarters of a billion dollars is contributed each year to all causes, less than 30% of that money goes to organizations which are in any way for the benefit for our own members or families. Yes, indeed, our Masonic Family has kept its promises.
Unfortunately, the world about us doesn't know who and what we are and we are making a most serious effort to enlighten them, to take our "fight from under the bushel," with our professional Public Relations Program of the Family of Freemasons, twelve Masonic organizations united to promote goodwill and understanding of Free masonry. This is not a membership campaign, but we know for sure that no one is going to join an organization they don't know exists; they=re not going to join an organization they know little about and what they may know is negative. We will get the word out. We make that promise to you and we will keep it.
We are embarking on a series of fourteen Town Hall programs from San Diego to Eureka, to find out what Entered Apprentices through the Past Masters feel is appropriate in Our Fraternity, what needs correcting, and how to go about it. Open and free discussions with the Grand Lodge officers and the members and Past Masters of our Masonic Lodges. We will learn from them and we will make the changes necessary so that our outreach program to those non Masons will be enriched by lodges that will not only welcome new brethren but have something to welcome them with.
My brothers, think back In Your Masonic lives and remember the promises that you have made. In your Masonic work yo u have promised not to write, indite, print, cut, carve, hack, hew, etch, letter or engrave anything about this fraternity except to some worthy brother. You promised to aid and assist all distressed worthy brothers, their widows and orphans. You promised not to cheat or defraud any brother or any lodge. You promised to support the Constitution and ByLaws of your lodge and of the Grand Lodge. You were urged to be steadfast in the faith of your acceptance and you faithfully directed your steps through life by the light that you shall find, as you will choose to find it. And most, if not all of you have kept those promises, or at least tried to.
You promised also to obey moral laws, to be good men and true, to practice charity, tolerance, prudence and brotherhood. You promised to be a good citizen and a better family man.
Those and other promises were made by us at the altars of Freemasonry and in our daily professions from one to another. The promises that we made for the most part are being adhered to. We know we must do so. The future of Freemasonry as the premier organization in the world will depend upon what we do today and tomorrow and all the days and the years to come.
Somehow the organization that I knew when I joined back in 1955 is not the same today as it was then. But then the world about LIS is not the same now as it was then. In fact, in many ways it has passed me by. With all the Computer involvement of most people and the time spent with the web sites and the Internet, I must confess to you that I am Computer ignorant by choice.
But in this upsidedown world where being good, decent, moral and ethical are not the norm, perhaps I challenge you to live according to the great teachings that we have learned our Masonic teachings and to be upstanding in your daily lives. I challenge you to be pillars of your communities and to be men with whom other men can relate and look up to for advice for leadership or friendship.
You know, the more I think about it and as I write this article and read what I have written, I find that we Masons indeed are the "original promise keepers."
So I ask You at this time of our lives, this day, the important day of our lives for each and every day of our lives is important to reflect on the promises we have made and to fulfill those promises, to honor them.
Let us continue our lives today and tomorrow and in the future, with a renewed spirit that will show the world that the Masonic fraternity is good. Masonic beliefs and philosophy are great.
We're going to do it and we're going to do it today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but today, because in this as in all thing, "The Best of Times is Now." We're going to make this world better because even now we live in a wonderful world and we of Freemasonry keep our promises because we are members of the Family of Freemasonry and are indeed darn proud of it.
MELVILLE H. NAHIN was elected and installed Grand Masters of Masons in California at the 149th Annual Communication in October. Past Master of Ionic Lodge No. 520, he has served as Grand Orator and on a number of committees of Grand Lodge, three years as a trustee of the Masonic Homes of California, and chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee. Brother Nahin received his juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in 1933 and has been a practicing attorney for 45 years, and for 26years an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He is a former vice president and trustee chairman of Hollywood Temple Beth Al while community activities include, among many, membership in National Board of Directors of the City of Hope.
He and his wife Alice have two children, Bruce, an attorney, and Richard, a research scientist.
Few men elected to the office of Grand Master have brought along higher qualification than has Melville H. Nahin. His untiring efforts and long devotion to the Masonic Fraternity prepare him well for the responsibilities and duties of California Freemasonrys Chief Executive Officer.