Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

In yesterday’s DMC article (written by Dave Reed) we got really specific in terms of some ideas and methodologies that Lodges could use to grow and prosper. Today, in this article (written by Rick Boyles) we delve into a more philosophical realm.

How do you perceive Odd Fellowship and your Lodge? How do new members perceive these things? How does the outside world perceive us?

All important points to ponder. Rick Boyles is a Past Grand Master of California Odd Fellowship and one of the three founders of DMC. Take a moment to read his article, and then take some time to think about it.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master


Perception is All There Is

The great marketing guru Tom Peters coined the term “perception is all there is”, meaning how the world perceives us may be different, sometimes drastically different, than we view ourselves, and conversely, how we perceive the world may be drastically different than others perceive it as well. Here are some examples –

If we dress like the 1930s, while we may view it as stylish and grand, others may view it as tired and passé.

If a lodge does nothing whatsoever for its members, the lodge as a unit may view themselves as morally upright and not flagrant with its funds, while a prospective member may view it as cold and not giving.

An officer or longstanding member may feel like a great authoritative leader while a new member may feel as if they are being left out, or even bullied.

All of us have a way in which we perceive ourselves but it is only a partial picture. We only possess one vantage point to the world. Like it or not we tend to view the world with a jaundiced eye, an eye clouded with our own attitudes and perceptions, prejudices and affections, and yet to ourselves we can’t be wrong. But how can we modify this? How can we view the world openly, without prejudice? We need to step back and try to see what others see in us. But, of course, their perceptions of us can be mistaken as well. Don’t we feel that we comprise more than others see in us? Of course, but then, it would be fair to treat the onlooker in a similar fashion without prejudgment. This is more difficult than it appears.

Clearly there are other perceptions that may be muddied as well, and ways in which to alter that perception. But all of us are given a finite time on earth and a very minute time to interact with most individuals, therefore if we truly want to lead our lives without prejudice or hatred we need to try and be as empathic with others as we are with ourselves.

In a larger sense, perhaps the world at large sees the I.O.O.F. as a tired group of elderly souls, but we always have an opportunity to adjust this perception. We may be old but we can seem intelligent rather than aloof, caring rather than ignorant, open rather than unyielding, brave rather than afraid of the outer world. The young actually like the old if the old are open and understanding. Don’t we all want understanding?

Perhaps the villages around our lodges see us as foreboding, cold, bigoted in one way or another. This is a perception easily altered by opening the doors, and putting the welcome mat out. Perhaps those of us within the lodge walls find the outside world intimidating, too fast, too alien to our order, but this could easily be another mis-perception wrought by our own regressive behavior. Being old or set in one’s ways does not justify hatred, nor does being young. Attracting the young is not done by becoming young again, but rather by realizing that their perception is different from our own. Many of us have given up attracting the young to our order, but perhaps our perception is incorrect here as well. Just as in the great baseball movie “Field of Dreams” they chant “if you build it they will come”, first we need to construct an atmosphere conducive to all ages not just one age, or nationality, or political, or religious way of thought. My own perception of many lodges is that they have ceased to be welcoming, not just of the young but people of all ages. How the world perceives us is really our own window on modern society. So, while our history and traditions are important, so should our realization that history and traditions are ever evolving, ever growing, and should be in unison with the world of today. It’s important to realize that to be relevant to today, we need to balance other’s perceptions of us with our own perception of the world. It’s a question of balance. Isn’t all of life a question of balance?

In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles

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