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18th century London was a place replete with social stratification. Feudalism had long ago given way to democracy in name but perhaps not by much. Monarch and aristrocracy continued to experience privileged indifference to poverty described for us by Ezra Pound and Charles Dickens. Of course we would expect masonic notions of equality and universality would be suppresed to avoid repercussions.
Upper Canada was another story. Our history is a tale of subtle high minded influence of nation builders. Early Canadians had a chance to correct the social injustice of British life with conviction to fight for rights defended by the republicans of France and the United States but with a tinture of loyalty they did not have. The new Dominion was not about to squander a chance to correct social imbalance. Jessica Harland-Jacobs makes a strong argument that freemasonry aided the spread of the British Empire. I am also willing to suggest chartered masonic lodges effected the bigger picture in Canada. Masonry embraces ethics and principles that are the basic elements of social progress. Canadian women gained the right to vote in 1918 becoming legal entities in Canada through the parliament of Britain. Public schools flourished in Upper Canada and later, prairie farmers lead the charge for universal health care. These are aspects of common good- an ethical pillar of freemasonry-greater than the sum of parts. As we look into the mirror of Canadian history we see self interest, we see power and we see the triumph of humble men building a peaceful nation of tolerance. Does freemasonry have an obligation internal and external to continue the legacy?
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