THE ARS QUATUOR CORONATI CIRCLE OF CORRESPONDENCE WORKS
How DeMolay Works
" IF YOU believe that the youth of today is sound, mentally and morally, and that the future of our country is to be safe in the hands of this youth, then we will agree perfectly and each concede the good judgment of the other. Should you, however, be one of those pessimistic persons who knows beyond peradventure that our present-day youth is bound for the bow-wows on greased skids, and that your city, county, state, country and the world itself is its hand-in-hand companion, you will have a real argument on your hands from every Advisor.|
This little article is not to be considered as an argument or in any way controversial. It is a statement of the beliefs, founded upon personal contact and experience, of one who has been called " Dad " by over a thousand of the cream of the youth of his city, and to whom the sound of that name, coming from a DeMolay, means more than the ceremonial salutations of his subjects could possibly mean to an eastern potentate. To be called "Dad" means, for one thing, that one has made the acquaintance of young men who are at the non-foolable age and that, if one is the type of man one should be, one has a friend, who will be loyal and sincere and, above all, ingenuous.
We hear so much these days of the problem of youth, so much declamatory decrying of the tendency toward enjoyment rather than serious thought, and so much carping criticism of thoughtlessness of our children, that one might easily be led to believe that there is some fundamental function which is lacking. Ask any " Dad " you meet and get from him the reaction of one who is in constant and intimate touch with the flower of our modern youth. Ask " Dad " if his boys are really sound underneath, if they have the same passions and feelings, honor and integrity, deference for home, parents and Deity that he himself had when he was or you were that age. The answer will be invariably the same.
DeMolay has been in existence for but a few years, six to be exact, and from its small beginning in Kansas City, where a mere handful of young men formed the " Mother Chapter ", the idea has grown and spread until when this is written there are nearly 200,000 active members scattered all over our country and through seven other countries in this and the Eastern Hemisphere.
TO HAVE attained this size there must have been sound reasons. It is not because it is a new sensation; the older chapters are not only growing but holding the interest of their membership. The appeal to the imagination is strong, to be sure, but that would not hold the interest of any boy for long. There is a strength beyond any superficial appeal to keep alive the interest and command the inflexible fidelity of the boy, something that makes its demand on character and has its answer therefrom. DeMolay puts into words and actions the latent characteristics that are overshadowed by seeming callousness and animal selfishness and brings to the surface those finer qualities that are decried as absent by the critics of the modern youth.
That DeMolay draws to its fold the finest material of the community in which it has its being cannot, I believe, be successfully disproved. At least, the city of the Chapter which calls me " Dad " has given of its best. Three years ago we were invited by the Chapter in a neighboring city to pay it a fraternal visit. We accepted and went a hundred strong for a three-days stay. The boys were paired ; each of the members of the entertaining Chapter had two of our fellows as his house guests. This year we were invited to visit them again, and, in his letter of invitation to me, their " Dad " said that our visit would, very probably, be provocative of trouble. The mothers of the boys who had previously entertained our members had been talking and their reports of the former visit had been of such a nature that there was considerable argument as to which ones should have the house guests on this trip. They all wanted some and there were not enough visitors to go around ! Eloquent tribute !
The particular appeal that DeMolay makes to increase the thought and interest of the boy in his school, cannot be too strongly emphasized. On several occasions when some of our chaps became a little lax in attention to studies, the principal of the school had only to hint of the facts to others of the members of our Chapter. Their method of argument or persuasion is mysteriously all their own, but the result on the fellow who was running behind schedule was relayed, immediately and forcefully, to his scholastic standing, in a manner not at all uncertain.
One particular case that came under my observation deserves record. In one of the High Schools each student, who is excused from classes, is required to present a written pass from the principal in order to leave the building during school hours. One of our boys wanted to leave, but having neither excuse nor pass, appropriated to his own use a pass belonging to another student. He checked up as missing in one of his classes and upon his return to the school was called upon the " carpet " very promptly. Boy-like, he denied everything, and after a lecture from the principal was told that he could no longer attend that school. He could have been transferred to another one of the schools, but the reasons for the change would have had to be given to those in charge of the new school.
Ashamed of the conduct and not wanting his shortcomings broadcast, he left and came to talk to me. Let me interpolate at this point that this and similar occasions are among my most precious and well-treasured memories. To be the friend to whom a boy in trouble comes is a most sincere and delicate compliment.
The boy told me the whole story, held back nothing, baring all the discreditable details. He confessed that he had stolen the pass and lied to the instructor and principal when questioned. He did not want to have to go to another school, so asked that I " square " him with the authorities. Naturally I could do nothing of the sort, and it only took a short time to impress him with that fact.
We talked over the situation and found that the only person who could right the wrong was himself. He acted on the suggestions made him, and proved his manhood in the process, by laying the truth before the instructor and principal to whom he had lied, apologizing for the theft and the lies, and asking to be given a chance to prove his sincerity.
Right here the school authorities gave evidence that they themselves were not ignorant of the psychological processes of the forming mind. Had they refused to accede to the boy's plea, they might have planted the seed which would have grown into really dangerous enmity of recognized authority. But they failed not, and neither did our boy. Today he stands high in his classes and in the estimation of his teachers. What is vastly more important, he believes in himself and adds still another, and a very strong link, in the chain of evidence that goes to prove that the hearts and minds of our younger generation are sound.
I have asserted that DeMolay brings out the better and finer qualities of the boy's mind and causes him to think logically along constructive lines. I do not know a better way to prove the assertion than to cite one of the many happenings that has been interpolated into the history of our Chapter, and rest the case.
We will call the subject of this little anecdote, " Bill ". Bill was of the type which might be placed in the category of what is termed in modern nomenclature, " Wise-cracker ". He did just as he pleased with his time and, despite a father, mother and elder brother who endeavoured in every possible way to make his home attractive, contributed in no way at all to either their happiness or their peace of mind. Do not misunderstand; Bill was no footpad nor did he ever stoop to any form of crookedness. But he began at a very early age to smoke and chew tobacco, to travel with a " Gang " that prided itself on its proficiency in profanity and idleness, and to grace the confines of his home only at meal times.
Bill was one of the charter members of our Chapter, much against the wishes of some of the members of the Advisory Council and even of many of the boys themselves. He was watched very closely by a few of us while he received his degrees and the way his eyes took in the movements of the degree team and the very evident, careful attention he paid to the words of the ritual, were in themselves a lesson in concentration.
He had not been a member for any great length of time before he began to learn the ritualistic work and became so proficient that he was given a place on the degree team. He took part in all of the Chapter activities, as leader in some and a follower in others, always cheerfully doing his share to improve the morale and team work of the Chapter as a whole. All of us who were interested in this great experiment in constructive education in citizenship and service were delighted. But the happiest and proudest man was Bill's father, who stopped me on the street one day to say : " Dad, I walked into the house yesterday to find Bill down on his hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor for his mother."
Bill is now a Master Mason, having been admitted after a most careful and searching investigation. Interested, earnest, active, sincere and loyal, he is doing his level best to deserve the honor of his new title. Bill was just as sound ten years ago as he is today, but it took the influence of DeMolay, to change the trend of his thoughts and activities.
Numerous instances have appeared from time to time to prove the power of DeMolay to shape thoughts and direct them into constructive channels. Here is one which proves the natural honor and clean-cut honesty of our future citizenry.
The father of one of our members called on me one day to report that his son was using DeMolay as an excuse to secure more leisure hours in the evenings, to the detriment of his studies and, at the same time, adding to the worry of both his parents. Regretable, to be sure, but only the natural outgrowth of his capacity for enjoyment and fondness for pleasure, that would be perfectly innocent were they not indulged in proscribed hours.
Of course, we could not allow this misuse of DeMolay and so, at the next meeting, I told the membership all of the circumstances and explained wherein the boy was doing himself and the Chapter a grave injustice. No name was mentioned, but the Chapter was told that after a month's time had elapsed, and provided the situation remained unchanged, I would give the name of the culprit and leave the remedial measures to their best judgment. The business of the evening was finished, and following my usual custom I went into the ante-room to mingle with and talk to the boys.
Between the closing of the Chapter and the time of my leaving the building, five boys promised me, in my private ear, that they were through deceiving their parents about coming to DeMolay on " off " nights. Funny ? Yes, in a sense. But sublime evidence that honor and integrity are in the ascendency and are only waiting the right influence to manifest themselves in word and deed.
I believe in DeMolay as a real constructive force for good and, most of all, I believe in and trust our boys. "
The Master Mason - September 1925