Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

DMC is a think tank of ideas – some new and some old, some startling and some bold – about Odd Fellows. We often present articles on the decline of our membership, and we just as often present articles on ways, methods, and methodologies to stem the losses, actually reverse them, and start growing again as an Order. Some of these ideas require a modicum of introspection, and ask the age-old question: “Who am I?” (or in the context of Odd Fellowship: “Who are we?”).

In this vein, I think you will enjoy the article, below, submitted by Ken Zowal, Mission Peak #114.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master

Hello, Dave,

I’ve become friends with the parents of the scholastic chess players over the past 5-6 years who have frequented my chess club — all immigrants of Indian descent. All are stellar American citizens, and are doing an unusually good job of being parents in our land today. I’d like to recruit several of them, but I need to explain the raison d’etre of the Odd Fellows.

I need some help with that.

We can easily point to ‘Friendship, Love and Truth’ but to outsiders those words may easily be construed as empty platitudes, not easily grasped without supporting details and actions that they can strongly relate to — and thereby making them likely to want to join our lodges.

Believe me, they would make excellent new members if we are able to relate our values to theirs, which I think we can.

In his recent book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell goes on at some length about how some parents keep their kids busy during summer months in order to keep their minds growing during this period. The result is their kids don’t fall behind during the summer, but rather use the time to participate, for example, in chess camps or other organized sports and intellectually stimulating activities (and stay out of trouble).

Other parents don’t do this during the summer. When their kids start the new school year, they will be behind the Indian kids, learn less, and drift into mediocrity. One can almost apply this lens to America in general, and see where we are failing.

The Indian parents also display a markedly higher level of humility than average Americans, and my fellow Odd Fellows might actually benefit from emulating this character trait, simple though it seems.

Another endearing trait I frequently see is that these people have a code, and they live by it.

As a grammar school kid I was a boy scout, and to begin each meeting we recited the boy scout oath:

-On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty
to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
-To help other people at all times;
-To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Those ideas are still foremost in my thinking and behaving for over 50 years now, corny as it may seem. They ring true.

Words like honor and duty still mean a lot to me. They mean a lot to my Indian friends and their children. Maybe we Odd Fellows should start saying them, and showing everyone that we really mean it.

These are all ways we can connect with Americans of Indian extraction, through their children, for the greater good of all.

Another way we can recruit young people is to provide a venue and opportunity for networking. We can help kids by showing interest in their academic and career futures, that they might not otherwise enjoy outside their immediate family and community ties. This also provides an opportunity to learn leadership, if provided suitable models within the Odd Fellows.

Managers get what has to get done, done. Leaders get people to want to get what’s needed done. Big difference.

I hope this helps. It’s part of what I mean by “how, how, how”.

Ken Zowal
Mission Peak Lodge 114

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