By Peter Sellars, PGM
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been on a collision course to self-destruct for nearly a century, since reaching its impressive heights in membership.
It’s obvious the membership as a whole has failed to heed the warnings that its membership has been in a steep decline. The membership actually becomes defensive and even argumentative whenever someone writes or speaks about the decline or the inevitable collapse should things not change.
This is written as a matter of fact and not to be defended or argued about in any way. Plainly, if members – every single member in this Order – doesn’t become actively involved in inducing people to join the Order, then the Order disappears, as many other groups have left us. Those members who do actively work hard to just keep the lodge alive by seeking new applicants have every right to hold contempt and abhorrence for their fellow lazy useless members who idly sit back and do nothing to save the Order. How else would one describe those members who have not taken the warnings and articles seriously?
Social irregularity, this membership ignorance, is fighting those who carry the messages and implore necessity of growth. Envy of the member who achieves success by those who lack interpersonal relationship skills, is a major problem. The inability of members to empathize with others or allow someone to gain recognition by achievement is a problem as well in this Order. Too many members purposely hold back other members by sabotaging them or undermining them behind their backs. That is a pretty accurate description of one segment of members. Intelligent people who have not yet joined the Order pick up on this petty childish behavior; this is why they don’t join or don’t stay long. Many potential leaders leave the Odd Fellows after their first year. I wonder what an exit interview would reveal? I wonder what our current disgruntled members could share if everything was placed on the table?
The membership must be honest with itself before any level of growth may be achieved. Imagine the unrestricted and non-obstructive supporting membership. Imagine all members praising other members for bringing applicants into the lodge. Imagine no envious backstabbing by jealous members.
The fastest way to turnoff an applicant is having a loudmouth or bully-type member either speak beyond the applicant or make them feel they are unwelcome. Members must work and continue to work and work even more to help this Order grow. At the same time, they must work and continue to work and work more to rid this Order of the naysayers and barrier makers. The membership must stand up to those few bad apples and hold them accountable for their actions.
Every member must always be seeking to add members. If they feel this is too difficult, then at the very least be in a supportive role in bringing in new people. And, the membership should never tolerate those members who don’t have anything respectful or nice to say to those who are working to grow the lodge. We are at a critical point where the survival of this Order depends on each new applicant. It is that simple.
We read wonderful messages written by leaders or past officers in this Order in this Dedicated Members for Change, but also hear disrespectful comments in response to positive messages.
We hear members selfishly complain about these messages of “decline” or “we need members” or about ideas of growth. Frankly, these comments are made by those longtime members who have never brought in a new member or have never appreciated those who have tried new ideas or who have plainly told the truth to those who are responsible for the decline. The truth hurts.
It is time for every member to find their replacement and bring them into the Order.