Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

DMC Newsletters generally focus on methods and techniques to bring potential new members to our fraternal Order.   We’re all about putting the brakes on our decades-long decline, and finding ways to grow Odd Fellowship.   But almost as important as bringing in the new generation of Odd Fellows, is the need to keep current members engaged and in the fold.    In the spirit of this latter goal, here is a column written by one of DMC’s founders, Past Grand Master Rick Boyles.   Have you seen these situations arise in your Lodge?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg, PGM


 

There’s a game many of us have played either as children in grade school or somewhere along the way in growing up.: a line of people is created of at least ten individuals, and a sentence or thought begins at the beginning of the line and is spoken out loud at the end; it is invariably much different at the end of the line than it was at the beginning.  Such a game illustrates how rumors begin and end up altered or expanded. Our order is comprised of people who are often alienated from one another due to distance, personal beliefs, politics, or other factors. In our private lives or lodges, many of us have heard rumors almost too unreal to be believed.  Some will not divulge where they have listened to a rumor, only preceding it to say that they heard something from someone. Much like the game, it is doubtful that this rumor is entirely based on facts since it has often taken longer to spread than a game with only ten people in line. Imagine enlarging this group to a hundred or a thousand members. In that case, you can see how a once seemingly innocuous rumor can become dangerous or stretched beyond belief.  The Grand Master, or a person of authority, is first required to determine which is a rumor and which is not.

Then, we also see that members often have an agenda that is not entirely based on stability.  Some hold resentment or jealousy of others.  That rumor becomes a secret weapon. Because our order is ideally based upon a friendly ranking, some can have a less-than-congenial resentment and can employ this rumor as a message to damage either the listener or a shared target.

Lately, rumors have mainly been based on financial decisions, salaries, budgets, etc.  Keeping budgets and salaries intact is essential, but rumors don’t do justice to anyone. Rumors are easy to spread, while facts are often much more elusive.  And some, through bitterness or ignorance, are more fascinated by spreading rumors than discerning the facts.  Remedies for situations caused by rumors are generally more complex than falling prey to the rumor.  Codebooks, for example, do not always address every problem a lodge may encounter.  In our code, there is a passage that states that only full members of a lodge may vote on the sale of a building.  But may an associate member vote on the demolition of a building? It’s not clear. Also, can a lodge pass a meaningful vote, such as the sale or disposal of a building, based upon the vote of a fraction of the membership? Such a thing may be allowable within the code, but is it ethical?

One of the most significant facts of our order is that anyone can be put in charge of anything.  Many who become Grand Masters or other high officers in our order have never assumed any different positions of authority in their regular lives.  This is a beautiful thing, and often, members with no previous authoritative experience can surprise others with their expertise, while others may be disruptive or lost.  Of course, it is essential, as an officer, to familiarize yourself with all the pertinent codes, but there is a lot to digest, with over 1,000 pages to learn and disseminate.  Then, in addition, a person in charge has to decide if a rumor is valid or just another volley from a disgruntled individual.  Even in the Odd Fellows, being in charge is an honor no one should take for granted, and every member is an asset not to be squandered or belittled.

In F., L., & T.,
Rick Boyles
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

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