There has been a flurry of accusations and trials in the Odd Fellows’ Jurisdiction of California in the last few months. I wonder if the same thing is happening in other jurisdictions. The point is that under the revised Code for trials, it is very, very easy for any member to file “charges” against any other member. Here is an article submitted by Past Grand Master Rick Boyles on the subject of Odd Fellows trials.

At the end of the day, do these accusations and trials enhance or diminish “friendship, love and truth.”?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Accusations and Trials, Oh My!

Sometimes what we want and what we sense are determinedly different things. On the one hand, we are all members of a fraternal group that trumpets friendship, love, and truth. On the other hand, we tend to give and take offense at every juncture. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is primarily a group of elderly people, many of whom have retired, others may be working, but slowing down, and most have attained some level of importance in both our own lodges and within the state, some even nationally. Often times, resentment comes from a miss-spoken word or missed opportunity to honestly appreciate another person’s efforts. The reasons for resentment are myriad, and the opportunities, of late, to give an honest apology or share a kind word are few, particularly in these pandemic times, and in this era of zoom, we miss the chance to see that all of us are human, all too human.

This has also become the era of IOOF charges and offenses, trials unending, and grievances taken, but rarely shared. In my time as Grand Master, I don’t believe that there was one trial in the state of California. Now, it seems like there are a number of them constantly. Not that we were better. At that time, I think most of us saw the futility of charges, particularly when there was an opportunity to talk to each other, and see the other person was not without some quality that today is hard to see via zoom, or however remote we have all become.

Also, now launching charges has become easier, as well. There is even a link on the California Grand Lodge website specifically marked “Codes and Trials” where one can download the materials necessary to launch a barrage of charges against anyone one may have felt gave offense. I anticipate being charged with spitting on the sidewalk someday soon and will have to engage a high powered IOOF defense team to defend the fact, that yes, in 2004, I did indeed spit on the sidewalk, and I will be happy to accept my punishment, which would no doubt, be a public hanging. The point being that at one time, filing IOOF charges was difficult, if not impossible, and cases such as these, hard to win, since in reality, what does one expect to happen by filing charges when the punishment is often nothing, but an admonishment normally given in lodge.

Now, in the past ten years, I have been involved in a number of trials, well meaning members on both sides, and nothing of substance comes of it normally. In fact, most trials end with neither side being satisfied, because both sides will be allowed to survive, and spend time again in their lodges, the good thing being that even resentment fades, and time moves on. The circumstances of today’s world in the Odd Fellows is filled with a zoom-like landscape, where most of us are now, or for a long time, have been, alone in a room, looking at a lonely computer screen, getting resentful of the guy in 2004, who actually was permitted to spit on an actual sidewalk, and realize that once we get together again, that maybe the rest of us may spit on the sidewalk, without a mask, once again, without charges or the spectacle of a public execution.

In F., L., & T.,

Rick Boyles
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California

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