Many of us are guilty of one of more of these petty things. These problems are almost inescapable, but fraternal groups because of their tight, orderly nature can be rampant breeding grounds for distrust, dishonesty, and various disappointments. Here are a few of the problems, we are all often guilty of doing.
- Gossip. This is the most popular of these petty offenses. Some of us love to gossip, but most gossip is detrimental to someone. Why do we care? Because we at least have a passing acquaintance with many members throughout the order. But, do we know them, really? We need to realize that all of us are human beings, capable of mistakes. Why do we gossip? Because we see it as a sense of personal empowerment. Remember what we learned early on – “if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
- Public Intoxication. Most of us are adults. Being adults, though means that we are responsible for our own actions. We must learn to control our alcohol intake, and not lose control in public. Oftentimes, overuse of alcohol in a public setting may result in a poor outcome. Some members who drink too much can become abrasive or even combative. Many lodges ban or limit alcohol intake due to bad histories surrounding it, although the preferable response is for all of us to act like we’re responsible members and adults.
- Feeling Untrained.This can sometimes come with what I would call a willing illiteracy. Some people may become irate just being asked to read the ritual or understand coded references; while others may have a serious inability to read or to comprehend what they read. Dyslexia is a common problem, which is basically a reading disability, but can last forever unless one seeks care, or helps oneself. Some members may talk of the ritual or our codes, but have they ever really read them? This is rarely spoken of, but dyslexia is a common issue, affecting millions. While the codes and the ritual are not very much fun to read, in order to grow within the order, one must have a familiarity with them. I know of a few members who either can’t read because of a disability, or just refuse to do so. Some also just resist reading in public. Of course, there are other reasons for poor reading skills, such as intoxication, or basic vision issues. Would we want someone to be Noble Grand or Grand Master, who had not even read the code or tried to understand it?
- Political or Moral Superiority. In this era of heated political debate, it is best to keep these feelings to ourselves. The ritual even mandates that there will be no such debate in meetings themselves, but even at dinners or other functions, it is best to remember that each person has their own beliefs, and it is best to keep it to ourselves. No one is better or worse than anyone else, no matter their beliefs.
- Too Little Structure. Especially today there is a random nature due to the pandemic. We can easily lose touch with each other. If we want our lodge to return to normal, we need to return to a pre-pandemic reality. Some of us have become extremely comfortable with zoom meetings or continuing membership without a real meeting, but we must eventually return to our old ways.
- Too Much Structure. Conversely, some lodges are really too rigid for their own good. Some lodges fail due to demanding members all walk in lockstep. If your membership is declining or failing entirely, you might consider loosening up a bit. If a lodge has many members on its books, but very few show up for lodge, that should tell you something. If no dinner is served, or you charge for dinner, or limit it to cold pizza, you might consider something new. Ask yourself, why would someone attend your meeting?
- Get over Yourself. Some people find this hard to do. While many members of the order have reached a high office or offices, this does not make them better or worse. All members deserve equal respect, and all of these previous issues are solvable.
In F., L., & T.,
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California
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