Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
January, as you know, is “installation of officers month” in Odd Fellowship. Most officers of most Lodges, Encampments and Cantons are installed during the first month of the calendar year, with an occasional spillover to February. A young member of the Order, just the other day, told me a story about attending an installation, which brought back memories from my early days in the Order. Apparently, some things never change.
This young member attended an installation of officers, and was, to put it mildly, taken aback by the entire proceedings. To protect confidentiality, I will not identify the young member nor the entity that was conducting the installation. The dramatis personae are not important. What is important is the conduct of the installation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the installation ceremonies that we have in our Order. Those ceremonies are just fine – albeit a bit out of date. (That can be repaired with a little tweaking, a little modernization.) The young member wasn’t concerned about the ceremony script. The young member was troubled by the behavior of the “more experienced” members during the installation. I use the term “more experienced” to denote long-time members of the Order. My young friend was a relatively new member of the Order and he was observing the more experienced members’ behavior during the installation.
This young member related to me how throughout the entire ceremony, a number of more experienced members of the Order were continually interrupting with “advice” and “direction” to the people who were conducting the installation. Stuff like, “stand over there” or “everyone needs to rise,” or “no, that’s not right”, etc. When one of the folks conducting the installation mistakenly mispronounced a word, a more experienced member would shout out the correct pronunciation. When a word in the script was overlooked, a more experienced member would, again, shout it out. It was disruptive, disrespectful, and ultimately, impressed the new member as disorganized. It was so irritating, in fact, that the young member almost walked out.
The whole episode was a triumph of form over substance. And, on reflection, it was just rude.
Yes, it is important to follow the script at an installation. And yes, the installation team should have practiced. But it is demeaning for members to interrupt and insert their comments and corrections during the installation. It is not in keeping with friendship, love and truth. Furthermore, it could very well be that the proposed corrections were, themselves, not correct. Who made the interrupters the judge and jury of correctness? In other words, the installing officers were charged with a duty to conduct an installation. Let them do their jobs. A more beneficial and polite way to deal with perceived problems at an installation is to offer advice and assistance, privately, after the installation is concluded.
Once again, let’s all remember “friendship, love, and truth.”
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master