Master's Message - Edition 62 of Devotion News
Six years ago I had the pleasure of working in Indonesia with the Indonesian Air Force for 18 months. When I first arrived there I understood that Freemasonry was illegal, so I was very quiet about my membership. After researching this I discovered that I was wrong.
President Sukarno was the founding president of Indonesia from 1949 to 1965. During the last few years of his presidency the he & his government became increasingly paranoid about ‘Subversives’, with Sukarno issuing a Presidential Decree in 1962 that declared illegal many organisations that could potentially be used by these Subversives. This included: The Dutch Grand Lodge, Rotary, Lions Club and a range of other similar organisations. In 2002, President ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid, decided that banning organisations of this kind was a breech of basic human rights and against the principles of democracy. Consequently he rescinded the Presidential Decree of 1962. As far as I have found, Freemasonry has not yet restarted in that country.
The great irony of this is that throughout this period and until this day, the Indonesian people live their lives by the basic principles of Freemasonry. Let me explain.
Relief: Charity is a core part of their lives. Not only is charity given in cash each year, I witnessed a number of other special events. A number of times each year, those people who can afford to are required to pay for a goat to be sacrificed at the local Mosque. The Mosque then distributes the meat to all of the local indigent families, who would otherwise not have meat at all. On many special days such as Independence Day, the leaders and managers donate money into a pool which is then presented to the poorer workers in blank envelops. Basically, there is no government welfare system, the community works as a whole on the principle that the more you ‘Have’ the more you are required to support the ‘Have Nots’ around you. As an employer of my household staff, I was expected to pay for family health care, funeral costs and other unforeseen circumstances for my staff and their families.
Brotherly Love: “Gotong Royong” is a principle of shared community work and support. When community jobs need doing, the whole community pitches-in, in whatever way they can. Whether it be money, skills, labour or even entertainment, until the job is done. This could be a spring clean of the village, a social event like a wedding, or repairs after natural disasters.
I saw many other examples of core moral principles woven intricately into the day-to-day lives of the people; they were not just an add-on.
Maybe the Indonesian People have a lesson for us.
Worshipful Master Lodge Devotion 723