Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Here is a DMC Newsletter submission from PGM Rick Boyles on the issue of “negativity” in the Lodge. We have all, unfortunately, seen the negativity of a few of our Brothers and Sisters. It’s a real shame, because the negativity tends to damage the fraternal experience we are all supposed to enjoy. Negativity can be like a virus – infecting those around the source. More significantly, it can cause discord in a Lodge, and cause new members to say “goodbye – I don’t need this.”
As you all know, the major focus of DMC is to increase our membership. The quest to increase membership will, however, fail if the Lodge is not a happy or welcoming place. The words “friendship-love-truth” have real meanings, and as Odd Fellows should guide our relationships with other Odd Fellows and, frankly, everyone.
Personally, I believe our Lodges would be better places (in fact, our communities and the world would be better places) if we all stood in the shoes of the other person. It’s the old concept of “Golden Rule” – just treat others the way you wish others would treat you.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California
Negativity is in the Eye of the Beholder (“The nattering nabobs of negativism,” Spiro T. Agnew)
A friend of mine said I occasionally seem negative. And yet, let me quote some of the actual statements that have passed my way from other members:
1) “No free dinners for members.” I’ve heard this from a long-standing member. He claims it will ruin our tax status. What? Are we really saying that the government is monitoring our dinners? But, more to the point: The statement is not only negative, it is actually contrary to IRS guidelines. A case could easily be made that a lodge that does nothing at all for their members, ceases to operate in a fraternal manner. In fact, who said “It must have a fraternal purpose. An organization has a fraternal purpose if membership is based on a common tie or the pursuit of a common object. The organization must also have a substantial program of fraternal activities. & it must provide for the payment of life, sick, accident or other benefits to the members of such society, order, or association or their dependents.” If you guessed that this is a verbatim statement from the IRS, you would be correct.
2) “No speaking allowed if you are a guest of this board.” A board president told me this upon my visiting this board a couple years ago, that I would not be allowed to speak until the end of the meeting. At the time, I was Deputy Grand Master. Does this seriously mean that Grand Lodge Elective Officers are not allowed even to speak at a board meeting? Is this negative or not? And, what does this say to the order in general regarding respect for our elective officers, duly elected by the collective membership?
3) “There will be no food for the children until after the adults eat” (apparently, children are told to wait their turn to eat until the adults eat at this recreational facility). Do we really expect younger members to join or stay members if we expect them to wait to eat until after their elders eat? What planet are we from? Do we treat our children like beggars? Is this negative, or not?
4) “That won’t work. We’ve tried it before.” Many of us have been around a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s our duty to diffuse other peoples ideas. If someone thinks it may work, let’s give it a chance. Too many members in too many lodges think anything new or different is impossible to comprehend.
5) Negative rules in general. Negative rules of dress, entertainment, meeting schedules or guidelines, protocol, or any of the myriad reasons people utilize to show domination. We are all on this earth only too briefly – why must we punish others for wishing to connect up with us?
6) An overwhelmingly negative view of the outside world. Consider how we have changed in the last 160 years: many leading townspeople in 1860 would be prominent members of their local lodge – now it is difficult to recruit leading townspeople. Why? Because leading townspeople no longer see joining their local lodge as a benefit. How many lodges today count the local sheriff or mayor in their lodge? Very few. It has come to the point where the townspeople view the lodge as antiquated and no longer relevant, so conversely the lodge views the outside citizen looking in with suspicion.
7) Failing to reach out to young people. How long do you think a Lodge composed only of members in their 70’s and 80’s will last? It’s a big world out there composed of men and women of all ages, all philosophies, and all races and national origins. We can re-charge a tired Lodge with new, young members. The strength of California is in our multi-cultural society – let’s bring that strength into our Lodge rooms.
There are modes of negativity on all sides of a political spectrum, but the Dedicated Members for Change are concerned primarily with the ongoing negativity that already exists within our ranks. If we want to grow, we need to project a positive front, and stop acting like everything that is new or different is forbidden.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles