By Ainslie Heilich
Tuscola #316 and Heart in Hand co-founder
Preface: I am not making a statement on any political opinions or what I think is right or wrong. I am purely making a statement on how toxic political culture and trolling on social media has created a digital divide that can be cured by continuously meeting with people of different points of view in a ritualized format.
I have been doing a lot of contemplation lately about the deeper power that Odd Fellowship holds and how fraternalism as a whole is still very relevant today. I had seen a heartwarming video about the 1914 WWI Christmas Day Truce and it was a very ODD thing to happen. If a battlefield of enemies could lay down their arms just for one day and enjoy playing a game together then maybe we could lay down our keyboards and come together as Odd Fellows.
I started thinking about the physical and spiritual sacred space of the Lodge and how it acts to bring people together. During the Opening Ritual we physically seal the room by securing the doors and covering the windows from the outside world and its influences and we spiritually strip ourselves of who we are on the outside and take on the mantle of our respective office. The eternal reminder as the Lodge is proclaimed open is “during which time we admit no political, sectarian, or other improper debate.” This command guarantees our harmony.
Today, everyone has been given the platform of social media to use how they so choose. Some use it to spread positivity, but many use it to divide, degrade, and demean. I have written on this topic previously so I won’t rehash it here. As an online culture we now immediately label them and put them in a box depending on their posted content. How do we break down the divide and shed the black and white opinions? By meeting up in person on a common ground with a common goal for the common good. Being an Odd Fellow does this. This is a major cultural power our Order has had built in by our Odd ancestors. We know that our Commands, Obligation, and Valediction all serve as reminders of the job that we are gathering to do and it is something we all must agree upon, even if the method of accomplishing it is up for debate.
Lodge serves as the common ground of the Venn Diagram of society and by passing through the transmutation of the Opening Ritual and becoming something greater than the individuals in the chairs, we become the living embodiment of the “Covenant of Friendship”. With this in mind combined with the image of the WWI Christmas Truce, I started form the concept of my design.
I have depicted two figures on polarized political sides, emerging from the darkness, chaos, and noise; coming together in the middle and reaching out and shaking hands in the energy field of light that is created in a Lodge room during a ritual meeting. As their arms stretch out into the light they are purified of the opinions and negativity of daily life. The outside world cannot follow. After being purified in the white light of the Initiatory degree, they then take on the Rosy Pink of the Degree of Friendship as they reach each other. The hope is that as these members have obtained this wisdom and light, they will continue to carry it as they return to their daily lives and no longer fuel the divide that turns friends, family, and neighbors against each other.
The image below is what I used as my base for my digital “chalkboard drawing”.
Watch the time lapse video of how it all came together!
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