Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Past Grand Master Rick Boyles is one of the founders of Dedicated Members for Change, and often writes for these DMC Newsletters. Rick is also an antiquarian – a person who studies or collects rare books, antiques or antiquities. Rick, as an antiquarian and as a PGM, is well-situated to evaluate whether Odd Fellowship is – itself – becoming an antique. Here is Rick’s latest submission to the DMC Newsletter.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California
History Does Not Really Repeat Itself; 7 Ways to Walk into the Future
Our order in the United States is quickly approaching its 200 year anniversary. This is very impressive. A lot has changed, though, in 200 years. A simple perusal of our old rituals would show that our order originally was pretty much exclusive to only a sliver of American culture. In fact, I could show you passages in some rituals which, even today, refer to “other races”. American culture has changed, and unfortunately, American culture has changed much faster than our order. In the 1800’s, our order was pretty much comprised solely of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. This would be ludicrous in today’s world. In fact, if this were the case, our order would only be drawing members from only a relatively small portion of the nation’s populace. Yet, I have spoken to a few members who seem to think that this is our rite of passage; in other words, that new members must resemble old members; that the order should still be exclusive to white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. We must lose this feeling. The more exclusive any group becomes the more likely it will succumb to its own predestined failure.
If we really want the I.O.O.F. to grow and survive (which I am becoming more and more convinced many really do not), we might lose this naïve prejudice many of us hold. We would stop trying to act as if only a select few would be welcome within our ranks. My suggestion would be this – those people who hold friendship, love, and truth within their hearts and minds are welcome no matter what, and those who do not practice F., L., &T., should not even try to join. Some of the issues we encounter within our order are when we forget F., L., & T.; whatever we do in our order, we have to remember that all of us belong together, no matter the physical or psychological differences, not separated by some arbitrary choice from one another. In this time of great outer strife, of tumultuous events, and sad hatreds, we must stand above all that and become the exemplary citizens I believe we can all become. In fact, while some of our ritual is sad and outdated, some is even more relevant than ever before. In our installation ceremonies it talks about our lodge halls as being a refuge from outside turmoil, and this can make for quite a welcoming thought. Just as we are now revamping the code in California, the Roberts Code, the ritual work and installation ceremonies should be modernized and less mired in past beliefs, old prejudices. Any old rituals that remain that include prejudicial statements should be gathered up and tossed.
Many other things have changed as well. Everyone by now probably knows my feelings on tuxedos, but here’s an interesting thought. KCBS radio, the news channel in the SF Bay Area, recently took a poll of those workers who still wear neckties and they found that only 6% of all workers still wear neckties, and generally, these are no longer high executives but rather low-end employees working in the service sector. So, we should alter our appearance accordingly. The idea that we get dressed up regularly for events whereas the public is ordinarily dressing down is obviously sending a negative and outdated message. Many younger people don’t even have a necktie in their possession. When we solicit new members, we are in actuality, asking that they vary their own dress habits to, in effect, travel back in time to match our own backward thinking. Young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, sports hoodies. Steve Jobs, of Apple fame, dressed in turtle necks and t-shirts. Bill Gates, wore V-neck shirts and sweaters. Virtually the only people still wearing neckties are service people, salesmen, and very few others who are forced to exist in the button down world. I have nothing personally against tuxedos (I own 2), or suits (I have several), but if we want to attract the outside world, we should try and resemble the outside world. Recently, at a hotel I attended where Odd Fellows were convening, I overheard the hotel desk clerk talking about us derisively to his co-worker, and not just based upon our age, but our “costumes” as he called them, and the fact that all of us were pretty much disabled and ignorant of our own surroundings. I had to smile because while he was mocking us, he was in fact, brutally accurate. Somehow, we have to match the outside world, or we send the message that the outside world is not allowed in.
Of course, many of us now use cell phones, but the television news show, 60 minutes, just televised a show talking about other countries which are far more advanced in technology than the U.S. The funny thing is that since America built networks earlier, our networks and technologies are actually antiquated while other countries are ahead of us with newer technologies. Cellular payment procedures in the U.S. are still in their development stages, while Kenya, an African country, has utilized and pretty much perfected cellular payment services for almost 5 years. So, the perspective that America is ahead by leaps and bounds is pretty much our own illusion. And, to be frank, the Odd Fellows trail far behind America. The SGL website, for instance, often seems dysfunctional, and carries old information. If we want to be in sync with the world, our publicity, websites and social media should be in sync as well.
If we want to survive as an order, we have to make the following determinations:
a) We have to be certain that we actually want to survive.
b) We have to act in accordance with modern dress, habits, moralities and technologies.
c) To draw the world, we must accept the world, not the opposite.
d) If we are in sync, we must act as if we are in sync, not exclusive.
e) Friendship, Love and Truth are traits that are not endemic only to our order: but they must be a prerequisite to those we allow become members. Our order can’t handle much more stress or cruel intentions.
f) Just as most religions teach us that we are less than the whole; not one of us is imperative to the whole, rather the whole is imperative to us. In other words, what we are is an amalgam of all we are. That is why it is so important to dress in modern dress, drop old prejudices, live in today’s world. No one wants to join a group that is clearly dying out.
g) Smile. Laugh. Sing. Have dinner together. None of these should be a problem. If they are, then that is where our work begins. In order to push into the future, we must allow the future to equate with our order.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles