One week ago, I sent out a Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) Newsletter that presented the following scenario, and posed the following question:
The Odd Fellows Lodge is supposed to be a safe place, wrapped in the warmth and safety of “friendship, love and truth.” What should Member A do when Member B doesn’t practice FLT? What if Member B is unkind to Member A, or is rude, or dismissive, or insulting in words or conduct?
So, here’s a little self-test. Assume you are Member A and you have just been offended by something Member B has said or done to you (or to another member) in or around the Lodge Hall? What’s the right answer to what you, as Member A, should do under these circumstances. Here are your choices:
- Simply say nothing, turn around and walk away from Member B.
- Confront Member B directly in the same manner as what Member B has said or done to you.
- Say nothing to Member B but report the incident to the Noble Grand of the Lodge.
- Tell Member B that you are offended by what was said or done, and report the offending words or conduct to the Noble Grand.
- Raise the issue at the next meeting of the Lodge and tell everyone at the meeting about the incident.
- File charges pursuant to the Code accusing Member B of conduct unbecoming an Odd Fellow.
- Ignore Member B from this point forward and have nothing to do with Member B going forward.
- Forget about Member B, but inform all your closest friends in the Lodge about what Member B said or did to you.
- Tell Member B on the spot that what was said or done to you is not appropriate and not in the spirit of FLT, but do nothing else.
What’s the appropriate thing to do?
I received back a large number of responses from the readers of the DMC Newsletter, including responses from readers around the country and in Europe. As you can imagine, the responses did not unanimously choose one scenario – however, I can say that a significant number of responders opted for #9 as the best approach. Here is a small sampling of the responses I received:
* Number 9 by a long shot. It’s not easy to take this path but it is the most honest and direct way to make your feelings known and not worry about “tattling” or (somehow) feeling “guilty.
* Number 4. Member A needs to deal personally with the problem with Member B. Bringing others into an individual problem is inappropriate at that time.
Then Member A needs to inform the Nobel Grand. NG needs to be aware of the issue, look for possible patterns and if needed, address Member B individually. Making a big fuss to the whole Lodge is not healthy for anyone, members will feel like they have to choose sides. There is enough division in life these days. Oh course, if the offense of Member B is totally outrageous, setting up an immediate meeting between Member A, Member B, Noble Grand and Vice Grand would be appropriate.
Extreme behavior needs to be dealt with immediately, on a personal and executive Lodge level.
* Interesting question, and I am sure your answers will be as varied as the personality types that exist in our order.
In reflection to when this has happened to me, unless the matter is of extreme urgency that must be resolved, which is rare, I prefer
to let the heat die down, reflect, seek counsel from my mentors within the lodge, usually the Past Grand
or my Right Hand Support. I find that after this “cooling” off period, I am able to communicate
in a non-aggressive measured manner to Person B and as they too have had time to reflect and cool off, we are able
to talk and sort things out.
* First I would talk to Brother B, my answer is number 9.
* I really think your question is challenging to answer because it doesn’t specify what action it was that took place to better determine the response. Was I offended because they made a nasty comment about my friend’s mac and cheese recipe? Was I offended because they called my friend’s family member a fraud? Did Member B do something offensive to someone whose ego is easily bruised or someone who laughs off everything? Or did Member B say something awful to a brand new member to the lodge who should be treated as a valuable newcomer like a new-hire receives welcomes from everyone? You also didn’t mention whether or not Member B is someone who rarely says anything negative, or what if they are the Noble Grand, or what if they themselves are a brand new member to the lodge? Was it a racist or sexist remark? All nine of your possible responses may apply depending on how you would clarify what actually happened.
* 10). Punch s/he/they in the face or shove the person on the ground. At least this is what the school children do at recess. 11) have all parties fill out a HURT FEELINGS REPORT. 12) lie in wait [disclaimer – my email responses to DMC newsletter are meant as humor and not to be taken as the literal meaning. They do not represent an opinion of any Lodge be it Subordinate, Grand, Sovereign or “branched”; nor are they meant as a policy for new, potential, current or lapsed members.]
– o –
So, what is the correct response to the scenario I posed? Here are my own thoughts: The scenario is (as some readers recognized) very simplistic and lacks specifics. It was intentionally done that way simply to elicit some thought on the subject of “How do we deal with the member who is rude or hurtful to other members?” It was meant to identify the problem and to get your mental juices flowing. The “correct” answer will depend on the specific circumstances of the bad behavior, and the specific individuals. But one thing is certain. The rude or hurtful behavior cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. It must be dealt with, or confronted, in some appropriate way. Failure to do so will allow a wound to fester to the detriment of the peace of the Lodge.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
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