Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Past Grand Master Rick Boyles has written another short article that covers a lot of ground. It’s sure to get the brain synapses working. In many ways, Rick is our Order’s “philosopher-in-chief”. Take a moment to peruse Rick’s DMC submission.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California
(p.s. By the way, you won’t be receiving a DMC Newsletter for at least a week. I will be in Beautiful Downtown Stockton attending the Grand Encampment and the Military Council’s annual gatherings which last a week. I will certainly report my impressions in a future newsletter.)
Walk the Walk
Many of us do a lot of great things for the order. But this does not entitle us to special privileges such as dispensing anger or name calling. In all areas of life, there can be moments of stress. It should be apparent that one of the foundations of our order is the creation of a society within a society, the manufacturing of an artificial calm within the storm that was the genesis of the Odd Fellows in the 1850s. I thought it would be fun to list a group of my friends whom I feel “walk the walk”, those who often go above and beyond the call of duty, (which is actually quite minimal since we are all volunteers), to do things they feel may enrich our group, however, I have decided that this alone may cause turmoil. A proper list of hard-working Odd Fellows would encompass the entire spectrum, and not just one political arm. I wanted to emphasize friends whom may differ in opinion and style but clearly emulate the characteristics of good Odd Fellows. Even 150 years ago, people argued about the right path to go. The point is that we need to progress and not get mired in our own petty disputes. Also, whether we like it or not we must all progress together. This is not a dictatorship. Divided we fall, united we stand. It is counterproductive to dwell on our differences. It is admirable to realize that it is a sign of strength to move forward with a wide range of opinions and vantage points.
Often, I will encounter someone who I feel has clearly excelled in being an Odd Fellow, and I think we all fail by not pointing out their specific efforts. In my year as Grand Master, I awarded 7 plaques to various members, and the hard thing was not in finding them but in cutting the number to only 7. So, while our order is clearly diminishing, it is also not lacking in those who give substantial effort. I’m sure each of us can name someone that the rest of us may not be aware of whom has contributed a great deal. So I will not attempt to point out who is great about our state of California, but simply put we do have people and things that make our state stand out in the Odd Fellow universe. Clearly there are criticisms in each area, but it is our very diversity that gives our state strength while many other states are failing. Just to think a few moments, one can arrive easily at a list of things we have that other states do not, our Board of Directors, our Homes, our Rebekah Children’s Services Center, and many others.
Membership in our order is diminishing worldwide however it is a pleasant fact to know that our state is quietly reaching a leveling off. It’s not clear to me why the rest of the order is not taking note of this simple fact. Some of this, of course, is due to our own group, the Dedicated Members for Change, but also it is due to the simple fact that there is more to do in this state than in many others. A number of lodges attract members by having events that, plainly put, appear inviting. I have found that in lodges, and no doubt, failing states, dissolution is preceded by boredom. If you want to drive people away, bore them to death. This will do the trick every time. In order for the Odd Fellows to grow, it must hold the onlooker’s interest. Clearly, it’s a battle in today’s busy world, but it can be done by showing what our order has to offer, and walking the walk it takes to obtain new members will enable us to rejoin the world.
But in walking the walk it is not necessary to attempt to move the pyramids. If too much effort is taken on by one person, perhaps the endeavor is not worthwhile. If one event takes up all your time and attracts little or no one, then consider changing events. Nothing is sadder than an event perpetuated just because it has always been put on. Better to move on. You should take note of what each event does for membership. If it does nothing, it is best to look for something that may. Many lodges do the same things over and over with little or no results. What’s the harm in trying something new or different? I believe that a basic reason some lodges diminish and die is because their thought processes have already deserted the sinking ship. Look at successful lodges and the intelligent members who guide, regardless of their political bent, and you will see thoughtful events put on regularly, but not zombie-like.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles