Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
One of the founders of DMC, Past Grand Master Rick Boyles, has written an article called “Perspectives” which is featured in this DMC Newsletter. Rick offers us a “perspective” of Odd Fellowship that I know you will enjoy.
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master
All of us have unique vantage points by which we view our world. No one vantage point is superior to the next. Many if not all of us seem to forget this in life. The Odd Fellows may be especially susceptible to this since many of us are elderly, and the elderly notoriously become more rigid in their thinking. I believe this becomes readily apparent in much that we do. Our younger members tend to seem disruptive mainly because they are not in lockstep with their elderly leaders (us). But this does not make the younger members wrong no more than it does the older members. What we need to do is to remain cognizant of this simple fact. Our vantage point is not sacrosanct. Our specific vantage point will come to an end precisely when we do. This is why all lodges are different, since they all have unique personalities, beliefs, and goals for the future. If our order has failed in one way, it has failed to embrace and enlarge upon this uniqueness.
If we are to grow as a group, we need to not trumpet our sameness, but rather our uniqueness. Many of us think that some type of regulation, or code, or by-laws, prevents us from being our unique selves. It does not. Codes and laws are not to be used as bludgeons, just friendly guides by which to light our way. Some lodges have embraced the oddity of our name and by doing so it makes sense that our name will then seem less peculiar to those looking in. Like just about everyone else, I have listened to the ongoing debate about the history of our name, and I actually think that the name could be an asset to us if we act as if it fits us. Many intelligent souls shirk at the thought of adhering to some prescribed flat view of the world. Think of those brave souls who preceded us in history, in their own time appearing strange or revolutionary, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, to name a few – aren’t they all to be admired? In fact, where would we be without such revolutionaries?
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows perfectly describes us: a group threaded together with friendship, love and truth. We can choose to emulate our name or we can fail by virtue of practicing sameness, or flatness, or ritual work done to death. I find it abhorrent when some elderly member derides a newer member with an elderly member’s expertise in reading out loud a paragraph written two hundred years ago. We all can read and just because one member can read an antiquated passage clearly does not make him or her better than the next member. 200 years ago, many if not most members could not read, therefore the ability then to memorize a passage may have been impressive but today the fact that you can clearly read a passage is not, and the fact that you may do it perfectly while the next guy does not makes you no better or worse than the next member. In fact, I often watch some members secretly smiling at some others who drone on mindlessly. The ability to read clearly a passage written in antiquity may be a nicety but we no longer flog those who don’t do so. How many of you can reel off the “unwritten work” without sneaking a peek? Very few, I would guess. Yet does that make you worse than the member who can? Absolutely not, in fact, I asked a long time member a while back if he could recite me the “unwritten work” and he surprised me by responding that he was not a “mindless drone”. Again, many of our traditions are based in a far different time where many worked with their hands and rarely if ever encountered the printed word. Now we all know it. Knowing the unwritten work is great but living it is even better.
Some lodges now capitalize on our name by including it in our events; we have seen “Oddtoberfests”, “Oddballs”, “Odd Poetry” and other events that employ our name. What better way to get our name out there? Sometimes, I am accused of taking things too lightly, but I believe that in many ways we have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously. Clearly, there are many sobering occurrences in our world, too many bad things that threaten to deaden our moods and destroy any bit of happiness we seek. Even in our ritual it speaks about our lodge halls being a refuge from the cold outside world. We need to realize that we can grow if we recognize that happiness and laughter draws and unhappiness and hatred repels. Let’s realize that our inner joy may be our best defense from our own demise. How we view our lodges and our fellow members can have a great and lasting impact upon our future.
In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles