by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Mark Havener
When I was a teenager, I met a carpenter, an old man who told me that he placed a penny in a wall of each house he worked on, so the occupants would never be poor.
As a young man, I realized that there is a difference between being “broke” and “poor.” “Broke” is a temporary situation where your income does not equal or exceed your expenses. “Poor” is a mindset where you defeat yourself before you even begin. I have been broke many times in my life, I have never been poor, or so I thought.
I became a Mason at 49, and joined the officer line that year. When I became Junior Warden the Worshipful Master started a tradition in our lodge where we use a Presidential Dollar coin during the EA degree. Being in Tennessee, we use the coins of Andrew Jackson, James Polk and Andrew Johnson, our three Presidents who were also Masons. We stamp the Square and Compasses on the coin and present it to the newly made brother after the ritual is completed as a memento for him to keep.
When I handed the coin to the first EA during my year as Master, I blurted out, “You will never be poor again.”
It’s taken me a while to fully contemplate what those words mean. We all come to Masonry seeking knowledge and enlightenment. We know there is something just beyond our reach that we need. We don’t know exactly what “it” is, however we know it’s there and it will help us get to where we want to be.
One of the definitions of “poor” is, “deficient in desirable ingredients, qualities, or the like.” I think this is where those words, “You will never be poor again” came from. Because once we are initiated into the mysteries of Freemasonry, we now have the foundation to seek out and acquire those desirable qualities.
We have that standard of requiring petitioners to ask to become Masons rather than inviting them for the sole quality of being “inquisitively aggressive.” We require men who are seeking to learn and improve themselves, not to be spoon-fed.
In our FC Charge, we tell the brother, “With a mind enriched with useful knowledge, man is never alone; he has within himself means of enjoyment far preferable to all the pleasures which the haunts of dissipation can afford.”
Brother Benjamin Franklin is also credited with having said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Knowledge, useful knowledge is worth far beyond what we can pay for it in money.
When you possess useful knowledge, you will never be poor again.
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