Grand Master Installation Message — May 20, 2017
Sometimes dealing with lodges and hearing their conflicts reminds of traffic court. Years ago, I presided over Traffic Court. You hear the wildest stories in Traffic Court. Let me tell you one.
A female business executive was pulled over for speeding. 65 in a 40 mph zone. The officer approaches her and asks for her license. She tells him that her license was revoked two years ago for drunk driving. The officer asks her for her registration. She says “I stole the car and killed the driver. He’s in the trunk”.
The officer backed off and told her not to move and called for backup. Several other officers arrive and a lieutenant approaches her. He says “Ma’am, can I see your license?” She says “Of course. It’s in my purse” and she pulls it out.
The officer says “Can I see your registration?” She says “It’s in the glove compartment.” The officer looks and pulls the registration out of the glove compartment.
The lieutenant says “Stand back” and goes back to the trunk and bangs it open and flinches. It’s empty. The officer stands back and looks at the officer who pulled her over and says “I don’t understand?”
The woman points at the first cop and says: “That liar probably told you I was speeding too!”
I want to tell you a little about my vision and my goals. First, I recognize that some of our lodges have problems that cannot be solved in one year. I believe that any solution to their problems must come from within their lodges. I can help. Grand Lodge can help. We can make suggestions. We can offer assistance. But struggling lodges must be willing seek out help. They must be willing to accept help. That probably means they must be willing to change.
Second, I hope to inspire and challenge lodges to continue to do more and to do better.
Third, I hope that by the end of the year that I still have some hair and that I still have more hair than Dave Rosenberg.
I have chosen a motto and watchwords and symbols that reflect my vision. When I see things or read things, I think about how they may apply to the Odd Fellows either directly or symbolically.
I believe Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are fundamentally good people. But I think sometimes we get distracted from what we should be.
The motto I have chosen is “All Rise!” Every morning when I enter my courtroom, my bailiff says “All Rise”. Those words demand that everyone in the courtroom come to attention. Those words create order amidst chaos.
There are specialty court programs for drug addicts and homeless people and mental health patients and veterans. For these people, “All Rise” has even greater meaning. These court programs provide hope and support for those who may have been considered hopeless. When these people rise about their challenges, we, society, ALL RISE. When a cycle of dysfunctional behavior is broken, we ALL RISE. In that context, ALL RISE is a challenge to summon our collective strength. A challenge to help lighten the load on the shoulders of those who cannot carry it alone. That sounds like Odd Fellow territory to me.
For my term as Grand Master, I challenge us to ALL RISE. When one of us does something good for another member or for our community, we ALL RISE. Our lodges rise and the Order rises.
When our lodges do something good for our members or our community, we ALL RISE. When we give our brothers and sisters support and encouragement to try new and different things to help our members or our community, we ALL RISE.
The more we rise, the stronger we get. The more we offer our members, the stronger we get. The more we give to our communities, the stronger we get. We ALL RISE. Think of our bundle of sticks symbol. We are stronger as a group than as individuals.
There used to be a comic strip called Pogo. How many of you remember Pogo? One line from Pogo has become timeless. That line is “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Think about it. “We have met the enemy and he is us”. In the lodges that have few members, we have let ourselves become the enemy. In the lodges trying to grow with conflicts between old members and new members, we have let ourselves be the enemy. Those lodges can and must ALL RISE to survive.
One of my emblems are the Eyes of Wisdom. I chose the Eyes of Wisdom to symbolize three things. First, we should be looking out for our brothers and sisters. Help them when in need. Treat each other with respect and kindness.
Second, we should look out for our community. We should use our group resources and energy to help our communities.
And finally, we should look at ourselves. Who are we? Who do we want to be? What are we willing to do to help our brothers and sisters or our lodge or our community? How can we do better?
That leads me to one of my watch phrases: Actions speak louder than words. Quite frankly, there’s too much talking and not enough doing in our Order. The Odd Fellows did not become leaders in their community by talking about good things or by talking about how good they are because they believe in Friendship, Love and Truth. We became leaders by doing. Pursuing those goals is our journey. It is our journey that gives meaning. It is the journey that helps our brothers and sisters and lodges. It is the journey that builds that bundle of sticks. It is the journey that enables us to ALL RISE. If our words are not coupled with action, there is no progress on our journey.
My other watch phrase is “Do it”. “Do It” is intended to have an exclamation point. This watch phrase adds emphasis to “Actions speak louder than words”. “Do It!” is a challenge to all of us. We do something (other than talk). We do something together. We work together. We make goals together. We are willing to do things that may be new and different if our brothers or sisters want to try it. We let our brothers and sisters lead our lodges doing new and different things. We never, never say “we’ve never done that before, so we can’t do that”. If you don’t want to participate in an activity, that is fine. But don’t obstruct it because you don’t want to do it. Let them run with it.
There is no “me” in Odd Fellowship. Odd Fellowship is not about “me”. Odd Fellowship is about “us”. A friend once told me that “You can accomplish a lot if everyone isn’t to trying get the credit”. Think about it. We ALL RISE! It is good when you rise or when I rise, but Odd Fellowship is not about you and me. It is about us. Us rising together.
My other emblem is the Lightning Bolt. The lightning bolt symbolizes action. Doing things that will engage your lodge. Doing things that your members want to try. Doing things will benefit your community. Doing things that will make your lodge an organization others will want to join. Doing things. Period. Do it!
A great man once said: “The future depends on what we do in the present”. What we do in the present. Think Actions. Think Do It! I challenge each lodge to do more!
My colors are orange and blue. Orange symbolizes sunrise and the promise of a new day. The opportunity to accomplish something, anything. Awakening with energy and inspiration with goals and plans. Blue symbolizes the clear blue sky and the endless possibilities of what we can accomplish together. Orange also symbolizes sunset. A time to reflect on what we have accomplished during the day. A time to think about what more we can do. What we can do better.
I also chose orange and blue because of Oskee-wow wow. Does anyone know what that is? It’s my secret.
One of my goals is find ways for our lodges and Grand Lodge to connect better. That need was clearly visible this week. One step towards that goal is the new Odd Event Library. This is a new page on the Grand Lodge website. To find it, click on the Odd Fellows Resources tab. The Odd Event Library is a source of information about activities and events that lodges have tried. My hope is that lodges that have tried different events will post details to share with other lodges. My hope is that lodges looking for ideas to try will looking at the Odd Event Library for ideas to try. The entries have brief details of events and a contact person if more information is needed. I hope that the Odd Event Library will be one small way for members and lodges to connect with Grand Lodge and with other lodges.
I chose With a Little Help From My Friends and Margaritaville as my songs. With a Little Help From My Friends has the chorus: I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends. For me, the beauty of Odd Fellowship is the friends I have gained and the things we have done together. The high you feel when you have accomplished something together.
Although I like margaritas and am practiced at making them, that’s not why I chose Margaritaville.
In Margaritaville, the chorus says: “Wasted away in Margaritaville/Searching for my lost shaker of salt/Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame/But I know it’s nobody’s fault.” The second chorus is the same but ends with: “It could be my fault.” The third chorus ends with: “It’s my own damn fault.” And it won’t be because there’s a woman to blame!
My point is this. Our Order has been struggling for a long time to stop the decline in membership. To stop the bleeding. We may have finally started to turn the corner. Our membership grew slightly last year. But we can do better. We can survive. And if we don’t, it is our own damn fault.
I have a pin that I am selling for $5. All proceeds from the sale will be shared with the Cave Degree Fund to help them replace the stairs and deck of the cave and with the Rebekahs Children’s Services Culinary Institute.
The Cave Degree is a wonderful annual event in Yreka where all four degrees are given to new and rising members. If you have never been to it, you should go sometime. During the second degree, you can look out the cave and see the full moon rising over Mt. Shasta. They are always looking for members to help with the degree teams. This year the Cave Degree will be held the first weekend in August.
Respect. Always. We must show more respect for each other. It OK to disagree with each other. But we must continue to remind ourselves and each other that we deserve to be treated with respect. And, we must strive to always treat our brothers and sisters with respect. Even if they do not show you respect. We should strive to rise above pettiness. If you are treated with disrespect, ask them: “Why must you treat me disrespectfully?”
I pledge to treat everyone with respect. You may not always agree with what I say or do. I do not claim to know everything. But I pledge to look for the answers to things I do not know. And treat you with respect.
Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day. There will be times when we individually or we as a lodge or we as an Order must let go of things. Albert Einstein supposedly defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Does this sound familiar? We should move away from insanity, seek knowledge and show wisdom.
It has been said that “Everyone has the power for greatness, not fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” We all have power for greatness.
There is a saying that “The best leaders of all, the people know not they exist. They turn to each other and say, “We did it ourselves.”” That would be the ultimate compliment for me to be here with you next year and hear about the good things that have happened and to hear it said “we did it ourselves”. Let’s ALL RISE together.
Thank you for allowing me to be your Grand Master.
GRAND LODGE OF CALIFORNIA