V.W. Norman Amirault
The cordiality exhibited here tonight reminds me of the wise king, growing old, who wished to determine which of his two sons was the more worthy to ascend the throne. He called them to him and informed them he would given them a year in which to prove their popularity, that they would be provided with whatever funds they wished, and that at the end of the year the more popular should be selected to rule.
Straightaway the elder son started squandering money lavishly upon those who believed (like some today) that anything coming from the national treasury was free. The royal palace nightly was noisy with high revelry. The young men laughed heartily at the prince's wit, while others professed to be amazed that one so young could be so wise. The elder son appears daily in public places to receive the adulation of the multitude whose money he was squandering.
Publicly the younger son appeared not to enter the contest for popularity. Apparently he went his way just as he has before. His demands upon the treasury were modest. He avoided the blaze of the palace lights under which the many joined in nightly orgies. He went quietly about as before endeavouring to adjust unfair taxes. Often he appeared in court to plead the cause of some tattered wretch. He might mingle with the labourers upon some public projects and listen to their complaints. He mingled with the merchants in the bazaars and heard their troubles. He mingled with the subjects of the realm wherever they might be found, regardless of station. Unostentatiously he carried contributions to the unfortunate. Often he was at the bedside of the sick. He sought not the cheers of the multitude,but rather the gratitude of the poor, which is something we hear about in Freemasonry.
At the end of the year the wise old king had the two princes arrested on a trumped up charge of treason to the throne. He had them incarcerated in a room that communicates with the royal audience chamber, so that while restrained from entering, the princes might see and hear what happened there.
So soon as the arrests became known, hundreds came to plead for the younger prince, and to protest that one so kind and good could not be guilty of the charge laid against him, while none came except to condemn the elder prince who so lately had had the help of the many in spending their money.
The elder turned to the younger and asked: "How were you able with no apparent effort, to gain so many friends who now come to plead for you, while I am condemned even by those who so short a time ago were at my heels?" The younger answered: "I did not try to make friends, I tried to be a friend."
Didn't he have something there? Isn't there a Masonic lesson of deep design in that little yarn? Friendship cannot be worn by formula or some magical hocus pocus. It can't be purchased over the counter. It is one of the few things that can't be taken from one worthy of it. It is one thing that mellows and improves with age. It is one thing that every person, high or low, rich or poor, may possess in quantity. It is the one thing which every person regardless of worldly station, may lavishly endow on whomsoever he will. It is the one thing you may give and be richer for the giving. It is the one thing that follows us beyond the veil.
Being a friend is Freemasonry fully developed.
This paper was prepared by VW Norman Amirault, Annapolis Royal Lodge #53, and was donated to the Board of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, February 10, 1990.