|In Scotland, the operative Mason knew
cowans to be ignorant builders who put stones together
without mortar. They piled rough fieldstones into a wall
without hewing them true, or squaring them. They masqueraded
as Masters, but they did not have the Word.
Now and again, today - fortunately not too
often - we find a modern equivalent of the operative
imposter. One such is the Mason who manages a place in an
officer's line with little or no effect of his own to
deserve it. With only that exertion that is necessary to
maintain his place, he continues to advance in line until he
receives the jewels and honours that he prizes so highly.
But he does not know the Constitution, and he does not
understand the traditions and dignity of the Craft. As a
presiding officer, his vocal ability is more noteworthy than
his executive ability; and when his term is ended, he is
seldom seen until another honour or prize appears to be
within his grasp.
He is a contemporary builder who works
without the benefit of the mortar of real enthusiasm or
accomplishments. His structure is liken unto the rough stone
wall, having little beauty of value. He is the cowans of
modern speculative Masonry.
He is to be pitied, for he is a
Masonic failure. His honours are shallow. Bringing no
interest to his position, he received little of the
satisfaction and respect that belong to the real Master.
Masonry has failed to reach him with a
clear understanding of those marks of true devotion which
she has to offer. He never knows the opportunities that the
Craft makes available to those who diligently seek them. He
misses the opportunities that the Craft makes available to
strive for a just and worthy cause. He misses the
opportunity for continuing fellowship and friendship. He
misses the opportunity for loyalty and devotion. He misses
the opportunity for development of his executive,
intellectual and oratorical abilities. And most of all, he
misses the opportunity for service - to God - to his
community - and to his fellow man.
These are the jewels that Masonry has
to offer, but in his quest for position and honours, the
modern cowan misses them. Like the operative cowan, he does
not have the Word.
-reprinted from the Masonic Shimbun in
the GLBC Bulletin, Nov. '79