SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.IV June, 1926No.6
There are so many ramifications to our modern Masonic edifice that to be well informed in all would require most of our waking moments to be spent in study and research. Even to have a working knowledge of the contemporary history-in-the-making of this great institution requires more time than the average member of the craft can give to it.
One phase of modern Masonic building, however, should be close to the heart of every man who wears the Square and Compasses. The relief of the needy and distressed; the care of the sick who are not able to continue as bread winners, is the pride of the Fraternity, and at the top of the list of those to be helped are written large in the names of our Brethren who suffer from the Great White Plague.
The ravages of this dread disease are enormous, more so than most of us realize. It is to bring to the attention of the Craft the terrible inroads tuberculosis is making in our ranks and to show what organized steps can be taken for relief, that this Bulletin is presented.
Tuberculosis is the chief cause of poverty, suffering and distress to the Masons of our country. Competent statisticians estimate it costs the Masonic Fraternity of the united States over $60,000,000 annually.
Of the 4,000 Masons who die each year from this preventable disease a large number die from a lack of the financial aid to make the necessary hospitalization possible.
Some 30,000 members of our Fraternity are victims of tuberculosis, requiring proper hospitalization to restore them to health. The disease strikes down the supporting head of a family, often when he is most needed. Tuberculosis is preeminently THE disease that calls for united, concerted action by any body of men to restore the victims to health, a process which requires expensive curative methods.
The "Sore Spot" of this tuberculosis problem is in our Southwestern dry-climate states, to which large numbers of tuberculars migrate each year in search of health. Sixteen per cent of these ask for assistance within a week after arrival; one-third within one month; one-half within one year. Many Masons become objects of public charity, - the middle west leads in supplying these migratory tuberculars. In one southwestern town a survey identified over 200 Masons from 31 different Grand Lodge Jurisdictions, all victims of tuberculosis seeking health.
Little wonder, therefore, that our brethren in the Southwest have seen the need for relief for Masonic tuberculars. Aroused by this need, they have for some five years past pleaded for aid in developing a plan for such relief.
The problem of tuberculosis, its prevention, curative treatment, and the care and cure of its victims, effect every Masonic Grand Jurisdiction. Some of these are big enough, rich enough to meet local demands, but often those very Jurisdictions send more than their quota of Masonic tuberculars to the Southwest. But many Jurisdictions do not, and never can, maintain their own sanitoria. There is no Masonic Tubercular Sanitorium anywhere in our country, open to our Fraternity generally.
Here is a verified record of a Freemasons, afflicted with tuberculosis, filed in the records of the National Masonic Tubercular Sanitoria Association as "Case No.21."
"A member in good standing of one of our large and prosperous Masonic Grand Jurisdictions came to El Paso, Texas in search of relief from tuberculosis. His home Lodge paid his expenses out there; quite a common form of "charity." Shortly after arrival, physically unable to earn a living he became destitute and applied to the Associated Charities of that city for aid, which was given. He also received aid from an El Paso Masonic Lodge, his home Lodge and his own Grand Lodge. From this money contributed he helped to support his wife and children "Back Home." To economize he lived, cooked, ate and slept in a basement de-scribed by charity workers as "rat-hole."
Naturally he lost ground and was finally sent home to die by the El Paso Lodge."
This is not an extreme case. It is typical of scores that have been verified but investigations made.
This brother of ours lost his fight for the right to live, not because he failed to receive aid from his home lodge, but because of the lack of an existing agency to take him in charge for a period long enough to effect a cure, relieving him of the worry of making a livelihood while seeking health, give him proper treatment, and removing the danger of his infecting others.
Put yourself in his place. If you existed upon public charity would not your thoughts go back to the moment when you stood in the Northeast corner of your lodge and learned an important lesson in charity? Ask yourself, as a Mason, if Masonry does not owe it to these hundreds of afflicted brethren to extend the hand of fraternal aid, by applying to them those recognized methods of curative treatment that are so successful in Tuberculosis?
Other Fraternal organizations are taking care of their tuberculars; why should not Masonry? One fraternal tubercular sanitorium representing a total investment and expenditure of some 3-1/4 millions of dollars estimates that over $15,000,000 has been earned by the "graduates" of that institution, restored to health, and to normal earning capacity.
Because of the urgent need for relief measures for our Masonic tuberculars, verified after years of careful investigation, the Grand Lodge of New Mexico has recently Chartered, The National Masonic Tubercular Sanitoria Association to serve as an agency or trustee, on behalf of all our Grand Jurisdictions, for the relief of those of our Fraternity suffering from tuberculosis, and the members of their families; to erect and operate sanitoria; to secure hospitalization of the sick and to aid in the prevention of tuberculosis.
This Association is ready to serve the Masonic Fraternity of our country. In no sense a local organization, it appeals for active cooperation and participation by every Grand Lodge in the United States, with representation on its Board of Governors.
The Masonic Service Association, after four years of investigation, definitely recognized, at its last Annual Meeting, the magnitude and importance of this problem and undertook to aid in working out a solution. It authorized a call on all Masonic Grand Jurisdictions for funds to work out plans and provide immediate relief where needed.
First - Let Lodges and individual Masons who want to help make known the facts. Wake up Masons and Masonic organizations to the need for action. Remind them, if need be, of that Northeast Corner and its lesson, familiar to every true Mason. Help in the necessary publicity work to be done.
Second - Get in touch with National Masonic Tubercular Sanitoria Association, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Third - Do all you can to have your own Grand Lodge participate in this work.
Masonry stands - has always stood - for relief. The true Mason will respond more quickly to the appeal of a worthy, distressed brother than to any other cause. The need for tubercular relief has been definitely proved; it can only be met by united action. It is a task for us all, not for just a few. If we all work, the task is accomplished - which means, literally, thousands of lives saved every year - lives of men with whom we have sworn the Brotherhood of the Mystic Tie.