The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was designed many years ago with the premise that everyone likes a title. Look around the Odd Fellows and you will see that there are very few members who do not have a title of some kind. However, having a title is no guarantee of ability nor is it a license to pass judgment. Our Grand Masters in every state, along with the Sovereign Grand Master, are compelled to make fraternal decisions, but even our highest-ranking officers are fallible. Our order was also thoughtfully designed with an ending date to each position. These positions are basically positions of honor and reward, thus each person who attains these positions should feel compelled to accept these honors and then cheerfully relinquish them when their time has passed. This is one of the wonders of our order, just as in our great country, a peaceful exchange of leaders, no matter how divergent their ideas, no matter how different their backgrounds, acceptance of responsibility and acknowledgement of a peaceful change.

The Odd Fellows must do its best to eliminate the tendency to dictate to one another. No matter what one’s expertise may be, this is not a license to bully, but it happens far too often – in lodges, in Grand Lodge events, and even at the Sovereign Grand Lodge level. No one has the right to dictate to another his or her views at the expense of anyone else. There are many code passages that bear this out both in the California Roberts Code, and the Code of General Laws. However, it is one of the foibles of the human species that each of us tends to think we know the better way more than anyone else. We only know the way for ourselves. Recently, there have been repeated instances where someone made a wide-reaching decision that harmed someone else’s right to exist on the same level. In Odd Fellow parlance, this is conduct unbecoming of an Odd Fellow. The only reason we as a group allow this to continue to occur is because it happens all too often. We must discontinue hatred. We must discontinue prejudice. We must discontinue sexism. There is no time to waste. We either do it now or risk losing our order altogether This is not the avenue for bullies, and one person’s perception of the order is that person’s perception solely.

There have been various complaints about many things that affect our order, but no one in the Odd Fellows is infallible. Mistakes happen. Members may sometimes get offended. But we need to realize that even within our own family’s accidents and hurt feelings occur My own lodge may seem eccentric while your lodge may seem to run like a well-oiled machine but both exist, and we as an order must be most concerned in ensuring that they continue to exist. To be perfectly frank, other states have been almost completely decimated by turmoil. Let us rise above that. Let’s show Sovereign Grand Lodge that our state can behave in a congenial manner and perhaps we will end up having fun doing it.

In closing, remember that all of us are brothers and sisters, and try and show the same respect to each other that you would to your own families. We should try to not publicly deride anyone because it demeans our order in general. My worst memories of the order are where I heard one member demean another publicly. This should not be tolerated from anyone. We are all Odd Fellows, and joined with the premise that friendship, love and truth are our call signs. We need to act like we feel love and admiration for each other, and realize that the old are not like the young nor vice versa. All souls are welcome within our order, all are loved if you reciprocate love, and lastly, the most difficult and challenging fact, that all of us are human and fallible.

In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles

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