by Michael Greenzeiger
Brothers and Sisters,
We are reminded every time we begin a formal meeting that we should regard our lodge as our family and hail each other as brothers and sisters. Perhaps we hear this statement so frequently that we simply take it for granted and don’t stop to think about what it means. In truth, however, it speaks to a notion which is fundamental to Odd Fellowship and which renders us distinct from a mere social club.
Unlike a club, a family is not entirely a voluntary association. We are all born into families which we did not choose for ourselves and which most of us make an effort to stick with, for better or for worse. While we do have a choice in whom we marry and how we form a new family, that brings with it an entirely new set of relatives we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for ourselves. Joining a lodge is similar. Perhaps we joined because we know and admire one or two of the members, but in joining we were undoubtedly also introduced to an entire cast of characters beyond those we explicitly chose to associate with.
One remarkable thing about families is that due to their importance to us, we are often willing to overlook the imperfections in our relatives and accept them as they are. We are invested in those relationships and we will not throw them away for a trifling reason or minor offense. Our family also typically knows us far more intimately than most of our friends, having had a long, shared history together and not always needing to be on best behavior in each other’s presence.
I believe that the metaphor of our lodge being our family is intentional and carefully chosen. In our Order, we are seeking a relationship that goes deeper than friendship because only by making that level of commitment to tolerate, support, and defend each other are we able to engage together in the mutual support and the elevation of human character to which Odd Fellowship aspires. The world is full of indifference or worse yet, hatred and strife. Our Order sincerely seeks a respite from that, a safe space in which we can be ourselves and share with others as well work towards improving ourselves and the world.
Like with our families of blood, there will be bumps in the road. We will not always get along, and we may go through tough times when it might seem easier not to be part of the same lodge as one another. These are the times when it is most important to view each as truly our brothers and sisters. Lest we tear each other down, let us remember that we have made a solemn and binding commitment to work together for the greater good and that we don’t always get to choose to whom we are bound. If we can keep this principle clearly in mind, there is no limit to what our Order can accomplish in this world.