Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Rodney King, perhaps, said it best: “Can’t we all just get along?”

The surest way to turn off and drive away new members is to be in an Odd Fellows Lodge where one or two members act in a dominant or controlling way, or bicker, quarrel or criticize each other. The negative behavior can take many forms: The negative member may take the form of a bully – loud, aggressive, controlling, rude. The negative member may take the form of a contrarian – proposals are shot down because the Lodge never did that before, new ideas ideas are stupid, or motions violate the “Code”. The negative member has been in control of everything and anything that happens in the Lodge – and won’t let loose the reins of control to any other member.

This sort of negative attitude and behavior is toxic to a fraternity. Members who engage in this conduct can cause a Lodge to fracture and even disintegrate. Not only will it turn off and drive away new members, it will also affect existing members, make them uncomfortable and reduce attendance. Negative members indirectly affect efforts to retain and increase membership in the Order.

As members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, we are supposed to go to Lodge meetings to escape the turmoil of everyday life, to elevate our character, not to witness members sniping at each other, or criticizing ideas that are proposed, or being loud and belligerent.

I have had the misfortune to visit some Odd Fellows Lodges where it appeared that members had never heard the words “friendship, love and truth.” They certainly weren’t friendly to one another. There was little, if any, love shown. And truth had been replaced by slander and rumor. Frankly, it was the exact opposite of what Odd Fellowship is all about. The tension in the room was palpable.

Not only is this kind of negative culture anathema to our fraternity, it also discourages members from speaking at meetings or for that matter from even attending. Social times and meetings should be enjoyable, sometimes even uplifting. There is nothing in the ritual or Codes that prohibit members from having fun.

If you see this sort of conduct occurring in your Lodge, you have a moral duty to take action. The best solution is to talk directly to the member who is acting or speaking inappropriately, face-to-face and in private. In a brotherly way, let that member know how you feel about it. If that task is too difficult, uncomfortable or distasteful for you, then you should have a conversation with the Noble Grand or a respected senior member of the Lodge about it – hopefully the Noble Grand or senior member will take the appropriate action. If this doesn’t remedy the situation, then by all means bring the problem to the attention of the District Deputy Grand Master, and if necessary, the Grand Master. The future of your Odd Fellows Lodge may very well be at stake.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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