Allow me to be a bit philosophical for a moment.
I am convinced that if every member of every Lodge truly followed the path of “Friendship, Love, and Truth” our fraternal Order would have no membership problem. Lodges would be robust, growing and active, and members would be invested, engaged and happy.
But, of course, that’s not the reality in most places. Unquestionably, there are Lodges that display all the qualities of FLT and there are members who happily attend meetings and events, contribute in many ways big and small, and thoroughly enjoy their Lodge experience. On the other hand, there are Lodges that are on the edge – drifting and barely hanging on.
In one sense, a “Lodge” is just a building. But in a real sense, a Lodge is the the composite of its members. Ultimately, a Lodge is only as strong or as weak as its membership.
At its most basic level, people who join organizations (including fraternal organizations) can be roughly divided into two categories: You have the “Givers” and you have the “Takers.” There are (not surprisingly) precious few 100% Givers, and (thankfully) very few 100% Takers. Most of us are a combination of the two, to a lesser or greater degree.
In a fraternal Lodge like a Lodge of Odd Fellows, you pretty much know who are the Givers and who are the Takers.
When the call to volunteer goes out, the Givers step up and volunteer to help. They may work in the kitchen, or help make repairs, or pitch in to clean up. They volunteer for assignments and readily assist their brothers and sisters. They contribute money when the call goes out to sponsor an event or give to a cause. They serve in Lodge office and don’t mind doing the hard work of keeping the minutes, or going to the bank to make a deposit, or chairing a committee. They will visit or call a sick member, and they will inquire how your kids are doing in school. You know that if they say they will get something done, it will be done, and done pretty well.
And in the Lodge, you generally can identify the Takers. When the members line up for a buffet, the Takers don’t hesitate to secure for themselves an early plate (and then may complain about the food). They come early to events and often stay late – rarely offering to help out in any way. They are often critical of others, including other members. Takers view the world with the philosophy of “what’s in it for me”? There are Lodge members who self-deal themselves Lodge money, or take benefits denied to other members, or even live in the Lodge Hall – these are all Takers.
If your Lodge is composed entirely or mostly of Takers, then the membership has forgotten FLT and it’s only a matter of time until your Lodge will fade away into the historic record. On the other hand, if all or most of the members in your Lodge are Givers, then your Lodge is a paragon of FLT and it will certainly live long and prosper.
F – L – T
Pasts Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
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