Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Underlying Odd Fellowship are the tenets of Friendship, Love and Truth. Of the three, which is most important? Have you ever pondered that question? It can make for some interesting discussion. And it is an interesting question. Obviously, all three are significant and are part and parcel of being an Odd Fellow. But if YOU had to pick one as the most significant, which would it be?
Friendship is pretty basic to Odd Fellowship. Frankly, it is basic to every fraternal order. Ultimately, you have to enjoy the company of the other members of the Lodge, or why be an Odd Fellow. It would certainly be difficult to be a member of a Lodge with another member who is not friendly, or worse, an enemy. In my travels, I have visited Lodges where I have found members who actually don’t get along and don’t like each other. This is anathema to fraternity – these sorts of disputes and petty grievances are toxic to the Lodge. So, is friendship the most important tenet? Perhaps. Yet, friendship without brotherly love is shallow. And friendship which is not based on truthfulness is not an honest friendship. True fraternal friendship means we are obligated to accept and be a friend to any and all Odd Fellows.
So, how about Love? It is, after all, what makes the world go round. Love is very important. If everyone had love in their hearts for everyone else, there would be little if any strife and discord in the world. But love is a multifaceted concept. It’s also very complex. There is the love of one’s spouse or significant other. There is love of country. Love of a pet. Love for a sister or brother, or aunt or uncle, or mom or dad. There is love of one’s work. There is love of golf. The list goes on and on. In a fraternal Order like IOOF, love ultimately means that we truly appreciate each member of the Lodge for who they are. All bring something to the table. True fraternal love means that we cannot discriminate against any other person based on his or her gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, or economic status. One for all and all for one. Again, in my travels, I have visited Odd Fellows Lodges that have no female members, and I have visited Odd Fellows Lodges that are all white. True love of our fellow man means an acceptance of all.
And Truth? Perhaps this is the most significant of the three. Truth envisions candor and honesty. Friendship or love without truth may be hollow. But can we really be truthful in all things? For example, if we see a member of our Lodge with a new hairstyle that is truly bad, do we still say, “that looks great on you” even though it looks hideous? Truth must be tempered with friendship and love, or it can be hurtful and damaging. Yet, ultimately, truth is the glue that holds the Lodge together. We have to trust each other to keep our commitments and do our jobs. We have to trust that the Noble Grand will conduct meetings with fairness. We have to expect that our desk officers will be honest and will give attention to the details of their jobs. We have to depend on each other and expect that each member of the Lodge will be forthright and honest in his or her dealings with the Lodge and with other members.
On balance, I believe you can’t have one of the three without the others. Friendship is so much stronger coupled with love and truth. Love is balanced when it accompanies truth and friendship. And truth is a powerful bond when joined with friendship and love.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master