America quickly became known as in industrious nation during WWI and WWII, a move that not only played an integral part in winning the wars but defined the prosperity of the country. As technology has developed and tasks have become automated, we find ourselves with more time on our hands. Are we still an industrious people?
Worshipful Brother Benjamin Franklin’s virtue of Industry is one that our modern society either takes to the extreme or completely ignores. Being a father of teenagers I’ve seen more of the latter lately, but working in the Internet field I’ve certainly experienced the former as well. Within this article that I intend to address an approach towards industry from a Freemason’s standpoint: which is to say, suggest a means of improving oneself in the subject of Industry.
Brother Benjamin summarizes the topic as “Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.” Sounds pretty utilitarian to me, but its principles aren’t as “clean room” as could be initially interpreted.
Think about your routine. What takes up your time? How are the hours divided? As Speculative Masons, we know about the 24-inch gauge and time management in regards to where we should dedicate ourselves. But how good are we at such things, and what does that entail? How can we be industrious and “be always employed in something useful?” Sounds tiring if I do say so myself. Does it have to be? I want to introduce you to Brother John Doe.
Brother John is an office drone—he’s a technical support agent working for a large Internet provider. He works the swing shift: 3 pm to 11 pm and is living the Dream. He’s married with 2.5 kids and a black lab to help keep the kids entertained. He has a house on a .15 acre lot, two cars (though both are at least ten years old), and is active in his church. And let’s not forget that Brother John is an upright man and Mason.
Brother John’s life has drifted a little into the slow lane. When home from work, he wants to relax, destress, and forget. He’s been dealing with emotionally charged and frustration people and needs to unwind. Oh. And he doesn’t get to focus solely on work either. It is summertime, and the kids are home from school. His wife, Jane, no longer has her peaceful alone-time where she was able to attend to the house and work on her hobbies. Instead, she’s frustrated and texting John about the kids’ unruly behavior (boredom does this to children in the summer). So, when he arrives at home, Brother John hits the refrigerator for a drink and a bite to eat. Then, he plops down in front of the television with his sandwich, chips, and liquid refreshment to catch up on the latest reality television show. Jane drops down next to him like a sack of potatoes that sighs a lot and picks at the food on his plate because she had dinner with the kids, and isn’t really hungry. Before they know it the clock indicates that it is one in the A.M. and they reluctantly turn off the T.V. to hit the sack.
The late night means that there’s a late morning. Brother John wakes at ten, rolls out of bed, and then takes his time showering and getting ready for the day. Jane has been up with the kids since eight when John shuffles into the kitchen for breakfast. While eating his Lucky Charms, John listens to the honey-do list Jane has for him and decides to tackle the lawn. Of course, there’s no urgency there, so John first sits down at the computer to check e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and read the RSS news feeds. 1:00 pm sneaks up on him. It’s a startling encounter even though it shouldn’t be. John is now feeling rushed, especially since a frazzled Jane is hot on his heels like a one-woman posse, and John robbed the payroll train.
The lawn takes about an hour to mow and trim. It’s now 2:00 pm and John has to shower again and get ready for work. He’s got a half hour commute, so by the time he’s done primping and fixing his hair; he’s got to hit the road. A brief wave at the door and a “Love ya” to his wife and kids, and Brother John’s reverted to drone mode once again, ready to assist the technically challenged.
Sound familiar? What could Brother John do to be industrious? In this case, the first thing I’d suggest is to get a handle on his schedule. He is certainly not following Masonic instruction. Second, would be to eliminate television and computer time, or severely reduce it. I know…this is a difficult thing to do (I love the mindlessness of television), but necessary to become industrious. So, what does he do with all of this new-found time?
Family time is critical and very industrious. “Be always employed in something useful…” applies here. There’s very little on this green earth that should take a higher priority than family, and a man who doesn’t invest in theirs is sorely lacking. Then there’s devotion and duty to God. Serving God is done in a multitude of ways and can include: self-care through exercise, food preparation, study and education; service to others; theological study; and church duties. How about home maintenance and improvement? As a Do-it-Yourselfer, I can attest to saving a good deal of money by taking care of routine maintenance around the house; even repairs. Working on a budget is productive and industrious. Improving oneself in professional knowledge is hugely productive, but remember the 24-inch gauge when doing so.
Society pushes entertainment. Stresses in your life make entertainment all that much more appealing. While entertainment isn’t something that should be ignored, it isn’t industrious. As Freemasons, we should be focusing on self-improvement, service, and charity. My challenge to you is to think about your lifestyle—think about where you spend that precious commodity called Time—and look towards industrious expenditures. Only industrious investments return dividends.