Dear Dedicated Member for Change,
In my travels to visit Lodges, I have seen Lodges where the members enjoy each others’ company and
have good times together. I have also seen Lodges where the members spend a fair amount of time
bickering, arguing, quibbling, correcting and criticizing. The former Lodges seem to be happy Lodges where the
members have not forgotten how to have fun. The latter Lodges can’t be enjoyable experiences for
most members, and certainly can’t be conducive environments for potential new members. I have received
e-mails from newly initiated members asking, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Past Grand Master Rick Boyles has submitted a DMC Newsletter article which makes a very significant
point. As a fraternal order, let’s not forget to have fun.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
The Empirical Honesty, Calming Cadence and Psychological Importance of Having Fun
Having fun is no laughing matter. At least, that is the type of reaction from some who feel that fun is not appropriate within the Odd Fellows. As incongruous as it may sound, fun is my logic for the survival of our order. Many lodges are founded and based upon an apprehension of oppression and fear. Everything a member, particularly a new member, may suggest or attempt is immediately squashed by someone who may feel more important, although by now we should realize that all titles within our order are interchangeable and not indefinitely held. By any definition, a lodge in stress quickly crumbles. Just as Abraham Lincoln said “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, a lodge divided will not last.
It seems altogether amazing how many qualifications each member places upon the object of having fun. Most of us grew up in the sixties, yet many seem to forget the pleasant axioms that graced that period. The underground cartoon character, Mr. Natural, had sayings designed pretty much to make fun of the myths of the suburbanite 9-5 commuter. He wasn’t so much as making fun of workers but rather the serious stance they took throughout their lives. Marshall McLuhan, the progressive thinker so popular during this time, attributed the rise of the sixties with the very restrictive lifestyles many led. Mr. Natural would chide “life is mostly hard work” to make fun of the bedraggled businessman. Marshall McLuhan would pronounce that most elections were won by those more physically attractive to the voter, generally a verifiable fact, thereby negating any serious examination of the issues. Famous working man philosopher Eric Hoffer while extolling work itself derided the material goals of the worker. Many of those who grew up in the sixties chose to drop out at least for the time being.
What has happened since then? Most of us have worked much of our lives, protecting our assets, sheltering our families which have made us more confined, more afraid of change, more rigid, less willing to see the world beyond our own self-defined walls. The walls in effect become our barrier from daily life. We talk about dreams and desires in a distant sense, without reference to today, in other words, generally accepting that most of our dreams will not come true. Many of our lives are filled with disappointments, most of us not willing to accept the mediocrity that comes to almost all, but do we see what is before us?
Mediocrity is an illusion just as great as fame. The yardstick by which we measure another person’s value or position is as variable as the person themselves. My father for example in my eyes was a great man though not a man of great wealth or renown. Rather, it was the way in which he lived his life, courageous in his congenial way, friendly without finding fault.
To keep our lodges open, we need to forgive ourselves for failures in obtaining objects or goals we never really needed anyway. Just like Ed Norton in the show the Honeymooners bemoaned that he never learned French, success is a yardstick only we ourselves can measure, and no one else needs to equal it. In order to grow, we need to realize that the world is enormous and for the most part anonymous and yet ours to control in our own hopefully congenial corner. To grow our order, it is my personal feeling that first we have to learn the sometimes difficult but pleasing chore of having fun.
In F., L., & T., Rick Boyles