Have you left the Order? Are you frustrated enough to think about leaving?
Every week we have people come into this Order who are looking for something in their lives. Something that will transform their thinking, beliefs, outlooks on life, personal paradigms, friendships, and family lives. Some join to learn the secrets of the Illuminati (can you believe it?).
Each year we have many who leave the Order for various reasons like: “Odd
Fellows doesn’t do anything,” “My lodge was boring,” or “they won’t let you do anything,” “they don’t do what they say they do,” or “…my lodge had no website, no presence on twitter, instagram, or facebook, and were sending applications by snail mail…” These are valid criticisms, for sure.
And GOD KNOWS I’ve pissed and moaned about the current status of Odd Fellowship as many of you folks have. One frequent measure used by people in power to shut down uncomfortable criticism that points out what needs fixing is “Well, here, YOU fix it then! Here’s all the paper work!,” which punishes the person pointing out problems and sends a message to others that criticism will not be tolerated. Well, I’ve got some news: everyone has a right to speak their mind (within the realms of human decency) without being passive aggressively attacked and punished for it.
Be sure that your criticisms are supported by as much evidence as you can bring to the table, so you won’t be labeled as someone who points out wrongs just for the heck of it.
I consider IOOF to be one of my hobbies. And sometimes we have to realize that listening to criticism is a way to help us grow. It’s OK to point out the problems in Odd Fellowship and here’s an article that explains why that’s important:
Let me say that I’d have left the Order just over a year ago, if Brother Ainslie and I had not started Heart In Hand Blog. I was at my wits end, and was about to walk away from Odd Fellows. However, since we started the blog, the Order opened up for me, even though it’s still not perfect and won’t be, ever.
I figured out that old fraternities like ours are not only composed of lodge rooms, chairs, podiums, or buildings. They are also composed of the thoughts and actions of all those who have come before us. The actions and thoughts of Odd Fellows from over the last 200 years can still be felt in our lodges through ritual, through the unwritten work, and through our degree work. The thoughts and actions of millions of members over the years have created the spirit of Odd Fellowship–and this energy is the driving force of the Order. It creates the character, feeling, and presence of Odd Fellowship.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned: you have to do more than join. You gotta work it.
If you find things aren’t personally working out for you in the Order and you have the same complaints as those above, you need to know something: joining the Order and choosing to do absolutely nothing but attend lodge 4 times a year and sit through meetings will not benefit you much at all. Sitting there expecting the Order to change you without you engaging IT is simply not realistic. You’re going to have to engage the energy of the Order.
You have to ask someone to dance before they’ll dance with you.
The old adage “you get out of it what you put into it,” applies to tapping into the Order’s energy so IT has the ability to help YOU. You must realize that you have to put your strength into working for, in, and with the Order for it to open up and help you with becoming the person you want to be. You have to attend lodge, you have to recruit, you have to go through the chairs, you have to create and serve on committees, you have to practice ritual. Going beyond that may gain even more benefits: meeting local business leaders to organize events may lead to a business or job connection you need; working with a school may help you identify the preferred teacher for your child next year; writing a book about Odd Fellows may lead you to writing that book you’ve always wanted to write; an artist could use their talents to produce IOOF art either to sell or to create an art show.
You have to find a way to get mentally and physically involved in the Order for it to actually open up for you. Make no mistake: this will take effort and depending on the shape your lodge is in, it may take a huge amount of effort. If your lodge is collapsing, tapping into the energy of Odd Fellowship will take more effort than if your lodge is doing fairly well. If your lodge is collapsing, you might consider working in a more
general way by doing work for your GL or doing work to benefit the Order nationally or internationally. Even though certain brothers or sisters may attempt to frustrate your efforts, keep digging. You’ll know the Order has opened up to you when you have your first success! Then, you must “continue to strike whilst the iron is hot!”
If worse comes to worse, here’s an article entitled “Frustrated With Your Lodge?…” that might be of help. Doing this will also open things up and perhaps lead you to a better relationship with the Order.
If you want to start your OWN lodge with your friends, here’s a link with instructions for that (scroll down to Form Your Own Lodge).
Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog.
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