Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
DMC has often been likened to a “think tank” – a place where ideas percolate. Where philosophy meets reality. Past Grand Master Rick Boyles is a well-read man, and in my opinion, is a philosopher at heart. Here is a very interesting article written by Rick which may stir some of your intellectual juices. The title alone should impel you to want to read it.
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master
From Gods to Men, the Tipping Point & Hospitality for Dummies
We are surrounded by perfect words; some written by those who lived in antiquity or those who now reside in posterity. “The Lord’s Prayer”, “The Declaration of Independence”, “The Gettysburg Address”, “I Have a Dream”, and even in our own limited space “The Odd Fellows Oath”, are all things that are repeated over and over and yet still retain relevance. What makes these words retain relevance even though they were written decades, hundreds sometimes thousands, of years ago? Two things: clarity and relevance. The words “all men are created equal” are impossible to dispute or to improve upon. Our country is the best country in the world precisely because it has always attempted to be equal to those words. While our country has made mistakes down through its history it is clearly not due to those simple words. In fact, most of our country’s errors and internal problems have derived from the times when it has deviated from those words. History is liberally sprinkled with episodes where people are enslaved or killed when all they wanted to do was to live their specific lives. Who are we, or anyone, to pass judgment on another human being? We fail as a people, or a culture, or a world when we subjugate anyone in any way. This can easily be pointed out by looking at other countries or peoples and see that the primary ways in which they fail is when they subjugate a culture, a religion, a generation, a belief. All of the aforementioned words are perfect and inviolate, and there are others we don’t even know that bear relevance to those who know them. There is but one caveat which is they are but words, and words are only as powerful as our ability to understand and utilize them. For example, when we say “All men are created equal” but enslave a portion of them we clearly are acting contrary to the words. Just as our founding patriots found dignity and honor in those words, we must maintain their relevance to keep our country strong. So, then, the basis for democracy is the freedom by which we are self-empowered, and although most of us view the political process with some suspicion it is emblematic of our world that it represents us and when it is working correctly, it represents the best in us.
How does this pertain to the Odd Fellows? The Odd Fellows have their own sets of words, their own call of duty, and I find that many of us seem to forget this. Malcolm Gladwell is an immensely popular economist/philosopher who has written several best sellers, whose most popular book is entitled “The Tipping Point”. I suggest it to those who seek encouragement and enrichment in their own lives. The subtitle is telling – “How Little Things can make a Big Difference”. Much of our difficulty in getting new members derives from our inability to project a positive exterior, seemingly a small thing but to the onlooker looking in, of paramount importance. Mr. Gladwell has many quotes in this book that are appropriate such as “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” This should be our initial goal in each lodge – the tipping point – in other words, the point at which we can maintain a healthy lodge with a sufficient membership count. Many of our weak lodges have five or six members who show up for lodge meetings and then quietly go home and we seem to imply that this is sufficient. While the code calls that a quorum it is clearly not sufficient. I believe that the “tipping point” for most lodges is 10 active members. This does not mean that a lodge with less than 10 active members should shut down, but that rather it should be an internal alert to all members that closure may be imminent unless more members are obtained fairly quickly. The other part of the issue is another quote from Mr. Gladwell – “emotion is contagious” – in other words, members are not simply digits to be counted. Some people simply do not fit into a beneficial setting. To be frank, there are people who can’t cope on a fraternal level. If we seek members just to increase our numbers, we may be sorely disappointed. This is where we fail quite often. Many lodges get new members who either fail to attend or who drop off immediately. The point of perfect words such as the Declaration of Independence and other similar documents is not just to describe our raison d’être : it is also plainly an announcement to those who may not share our attitudes – saying hey, we believe in freedom, hey we cherish the ideals of friendship, love and truth. It is not just the words we are in search of to define us it should be our goal to reach the tipping point to justify our future.
Lastly, just lately I attended a supposed public event at a lodge with a few fellow members and was told that we would have to eat our dinner elsewhere due to the lodge members not having enough food on hand to feed us. So, when they sat down to eat, we were forced to go elsewhere for dinner. And yet, this was purportedly a public event! So, what would have happened if any of the public really did attend? The point is that many of our groupings have become so accustomed to only a few attending that anything out of the ordinary causes consternation on behalf of the regular lodge members. If we truly want new members, we have to be ready to be accommodating. If your lodge does not have enough funds available to feed a few guests, what makes the lodge viable? Our history plainly emphasizes that members joined for some pretty basic reasons, security, fellowship, charity, and clearly sustenance. Most did not join to recite rituals or march in lockstep. If you doubt this plain fact, you should go back and study our history. If we are not going to be open to guests or visitors, how exactly do we plan to grow? To grow we need to treat our guests just as if they visited our homes. If the cupboard is bare, and the doors and windows locked up tight, what message does that send to the outside world?
In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles.