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Freemasonry and World Peace
Joseph E.A. Salem
SGC of Honor Ad-Vitam, Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for the State of Israel
Reprinted from The Israeli Freemason

שלום  Shalom (shahlohm):  peace; a conventional Hebrew greeting or farewell, equivalent to "hello" or "good-bye."

Definition of Peace

World Peace

When I decided to prepare this paper, having chosen the subject "Freemasonry and World Peace," I started searching through my notes and my own mind for whatever I read about the subject. Not long ago, I read an article that concluded with these words: "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of G-d. Peace-making is a noble vocation, but you can no more make peace on your own strength, than a carpenter can build a house without a hammer, or an artist paint a picture without brushes. You must have the right equipment. To make peace on earth, you must know the source of all peace."

Too many people believe that peace is a diplomatic maneuvering, a series of talks and shuttle trips between countries, or a pile of documents signed in Paris or on the lawn of the White House, in Washington. Real peace can only come from the hearts of men.

Reading through the Bible, I found some 120 individual verses including the word Peace. We find references to "peace of mind," peace on the land, peace on the nation, peace among ourselves, and lastly, the most famous vision of the Prophet Isaiah, which has been quoted so often, and boldly engraved on the main wall of the United Nations headquarters:

"And it shall come to pass in the end of days,
and He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide for many peoples,
and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up swords against nation
neither shall they learn war any more."

As I began to study the subject, a truth began to take shape in my mind, that no world peace can be found in laws, in the legislatures, or in governments. What, then, can we do about world peace?

Learning to Live Together

Racial antagonism, religious intolerance, political and economic philosophies, are at cross purposes, accusing each other of destroying civilization.

The problem before the world is the problem of living together. It is made acute by the fact that the huge world of ancient times, with its vast separating distances, has vanished, and in its place we have a little world, shriveled to the size of a neighborhood—noisy, gossipy, and often disagreeable.

Drawn together, jammed together, we must learn to live together. Otherwise there will be an explosion. We need a new spirit of brotherhood to match our needs. We must use the teachings of Freemasonry, as a guideline showing the way how to live together, respecting each other, united in the belief of the Fatherhood of G-d and the Brotherhood of Man.

Fraternity and Brotherly Love

The greatest ideal in the world today is fraternity, not as mere sentiment, but as science, a practical philosophy and a way of life. If ever there was a generation eager and willing to try out the philosophy of brotherhood with wisdom and patience, it must be this generation. We have been shown in letters of blood and fire, what hate, envy and greed can do.

I believe Freemasonry can do a lot towards building a better world, fit to live in, unstained by blood, undefiled by hatred. This is the challenge to our craft.

Freemasonry binds us together in amity and respect. Our assemblies are peaceful, orderly, and obedient. By divine command, Moses proclaimed to all peoples on earth, present and future, how they should live as individuals and as nations. He condensed G-d's proclamation into 10 Commandments, and there he added to them: "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself." This is the Commandment to which Freemasonry dedicated itself, to establish brotherhood among men so they can live in peace with each other in this world.

The struggle of Freemasonry is the struggle of the human race against tyranny and oppression. From the beginning, Freemasonry has realized that religion, tradition, and habits of life can divide the peoples of the world into hostile camps. Freemasonry takes no part in these quarrels, rather it provides a common meeting ground where all men can meet on the level.

The Mission of Freemasonry

The builders of King Solomon's Temple, the early masons, had only one aspiration, and one hope, namely, the establishment of universal amity among all men. When building this temple, King Solomon called it "the House of G-d" for all peoples, as it was stressed by him in his prayers and proclamations.

Every Masonic lodge is a temple of peace. In it, men of different religions and stations in life meet together, and on its altars, the Sacred Volumes of all faiths are placed. The spirit of harmony and cooperation prevails. The Masonic teachings of equality and fraternity are the only tie that can bind the human family together, and create a wold order based on brotherly love and peace.

All Brethren should perform their Masonic activities endeavoring to eliminate any barriers based on cast, creed, race, or nationality, promoting the construction of new bridges of reconciliation, one which every regular Freemason of every country can freely cross and find a warm, cordial welcome. We must bring together all Brethren seeking truth in Freemasonry and encourage them in their quest. We should bring about a better understanding, spread the Gospel of Peace and Good Will. This is our sacred duty.

It is not easy to change from a cycle of war to a cycle of peace. Look at the balance. For the past 80 years, we have had a world-wide killing, destruction, weeping, mourning, and hate. Now is the time to promote 80 years of peace, healing, building up, speaking out, and loving each other. What alternative is there for us? Now we totter on the brink of a third world war. The survival of civilization itself is a very debatable question in this nuclear age. We have lived too long during wars and in fear of wars.

Freemasons should be willing to head a Crusade to swing the balance from war to peace. Now is the time for peace, first within the Fraternity, and then, as an example for the world at large. In the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) it is said:

"There is a time to love, and time to hate;
a time of war, and a time for peace.
I conclude with a poem I read years ago:
The world is patiently waiting for peace,
Praying that all wars shall cease,
Putting a stop to this needless slaughter,
Of letting blood, like flowing water;
Peace, real peace, is the cry,
And we can have it, if we will but try.
Let us continue to pray for peace,
And someday all wars will cease,
The world will be a better place,
When wars and bloodshed have ceased."

SHALOM   -   Peace be with you   -   שלום