DMC – Odd Fellows At A Crossroads

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

It is my pleasure to send along to you an article, below, written by Rick Boyles. Rick is a Past Grand Master of this Jurisdiction, he is one of the three founders of DMC, and he also serves, among other things, as Chair of the DMC Committee. Rick, for years, has written articles focused on re-generating this Order.

And re-generation is sorely needed. Our Order in California has steadily lost membership, year after year, for three generations. We close or consolidate Lodges every year. Half our Lodges have less than 20 members on their books. Many Lodges can barely must a quorum of 5 members to hold a meeting. With a few exceptions, our Lodges in California, annually, show a net loss in members. This is unsustainable and unacceptable.

Until and unless members of this Order – and this means every one of us – focus on the need to re-generate our Lodges through the process of bringing in new members, we will continue to diminish. Until and unless members of this Order – and this means every one of us – focus on the need to truly practice friendship, love and truth in our Lodges and in our lives, we are lost.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Our order is at a crossroads. One in which many members disagree on how to make progress. Some seek to adhere to old methods, clothing, rituals, and closed doors, while others want change in everything we see or do. This can be the cause of friction between the two modes of thought. But, it should not clear the path for bullies to control atmospheres they view as their own. There have always been disagreements between members, but there should no longer be any dispute about our one clear imperative: membership. If we do not focus upon gaining new members, anything else we say or do will soon enough become irrelevant. So, then, it has become a pivotal point of reference in all that we are. We as members must do everything possible to get new members; those who run for positions within the order should emphasize membership as their primary goal. If it is not their primary goal, then there should be some question as to their real agenda. Succinctly, if it is not about membership, it really is not of much value to our order.

Just like the outside world, there are those who seek to lead just for their own satisfaction, or a confused lust for whatever they conceive of as power, which is ludicrous since we are a failing group, just like being the captain of a sinking ship. Often, leadership in these cases becomes just a chore of putting out fires. We are a fraternal group, meant only for congenial existence; if we are less than congenial we are contrary to our implied mandate. We are not a political group, nor a religious, paramilitary, or tyrannical cult. We need to seek a widespread attitude re-adjustment within our order. We need to present to the world a happiness unfettered by dispute or distrust. A quick look at the I.R.S.’s description of a fraternal group will give an almost idyllic view of what we should aspire to, namely a caring group which exists mainly to watch over its own members. There are some great examples of this. In our state of California last year there were very damaging fires, the Valley and Butte Fires, which decimated many homes and displaced some of our own members. Our order admirably assisted several displaced members resume their lives. In my vision of our order, this is one of the primary reasons we exist. We have to somehow remove the entanglements within which we all dwell in within our lodges, and assist our own members to exist. Naturally, we can’t afford to pay for their entire subsistence, but we can ease their pain. This may seem obvious but too many of us appear to have forgotten our primary mandate. If we agree that our mandate begins and ends with friendship, love and truth, our goal should be to assist each and every member in their hour of need. Clearly, there is a financial ceiling to each gesture, but to do nothing is to ignore that which we claim to be.

A brief discussion about monetary concerns; some lodges are near dire straits, so of course, these lodges can do nothing or next to nothing for their members. However, there are other lodges that sit with hundreds of thousands sometimes millions in their coffers who do nothing for their members and seem bewildered by the dwindling of their own memberships. How foolish is that? We have a famous tourist attraction down in San Jose called the Winchester Mystery House, where the widow of William Wirt Winchester, of Winchester Gun Co., in the 1880’s, constructed corridors that lead nowhere, doors that open in mid air, and other fascinating dead ends. There are several theories for this, such as this lady, Sarah Winchester, was afraid of vengeful spirits, or the builders had just lost any idea of a master plan, but the reality was that here was a lady who had lots of money, and spent it on endless projects with very little meaning. It’s an excellent example of a waste of funds when surely there were people of need right outside her doors. What would have been the harm in helping a few souls rather than building endless corridors leading to nowhere? The point being that her biography notes her as being eccentric, lonely, bitter, afraid, and virtually dying as a shut-in in her crazily constructed version of Xanadu. Just like in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, we see people fighting over her estate, but little if anything is known about the lady herself. The point is that our lodges should not go this route, better to die a little less affluent than to deny the poor a crust of bread. Our future relies on our humanity. If our humanity ceases to exist than we are surely lost. Lastly, those among us who claim a religious belief betray themselves when they deny our brothers and sisters a crust of bread. Is it really any wonder why our order is facing its own demise? We have somehow forgotten that humanity is its own reward. Time to get off our high horses and see the world as it truly is. We win by once again melding our hearts with the world.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles

 
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