Not On My Watch
There are presently 9 lodges in California with ten or less regular members! There are 21 other lodges that have 15 or less regular members. Does that shock you? We should be shocked. I wonder how many of these lodges consider this an urgent and dire situation. I wonder if the lodges are doing anything about it.

What can a lodge with ten members do? What do they think about their situation? Do they think about their situation at all? Do they want to survive? Is Odd Fellowship worthy of survival in their town? For those lodges, what is good about Odd Fellowship?

To me it is unfathomable that an Odd Fellow would not take action to save their lodge from dying. I would not want to be one of the lodge members who let their lodge fold on my watch. To me, it sends a message that Odd Fellowship is not worth it. It sends a message that Odd Fellowship may be good for me but not worth the effort it keep it going. I refuse to believe that!

I wonder what Odd Fellowship means to the members of those lodges. Does it mean more than meeting with a small group of old friends? What about sharing the Odd Fellows experience with new friends? Do they matter? Does the “Friendship” in our motto not include and expect new friends?

I wonder how these lodges feel about helping their community. I wonder what they are willing to do to help their community. I wonder if their community knows they are around.

I think the Odd Fellows are comparable to a large company that started out with hundreds of stores. The stores all offered a similar, quality product. People came to the stores. They wanted to be part of the stores. They became members. Some stores provided certain goods and services that other stores did not but they all had common values. But the company’s stores provided a useful product for their members and their communities.

Then, something happened. Some stores stopped providing as much of a useful product for their members and their community. As the stores offered less, people started to look elsewhere. They supported other companies.

Some of the stores updated their services and product. People still liked those stores. The community still liked those stores. Other stores of the company continued to do less. Their business continued to decline. Some stores closed. Then more stores closed. The quality product of the past was no longer desirable in the same way. It was no longer a quality product.
Some stores decided to try different things. Sometimes, the new things worked. Sometimes, the new things did not work. Those stores kept trying different things.
The stores that once sold radios successfully now sold televisions and computers. The stores that once sold train tickets now sold or rented modern cars. The stores that once sold dial up telephones now sold smart phones. Members and the community liked those stores. They were innovative and successful but with the same values as before.

Our stores can survive. But, it is the members who must find their way. If they need help, they must be willing to seek it out. They need to ask. They need to listen. They need to act. But, ultimately, it comes back to the members. What do they want their store (lodge) to be? Do they need to improve their product? How can they improve their product? What do they need to do to improve their product? Are they willing to do what it takes? Is it worth it to them to do what it takes? Maybe not. But it can be done. Look around!

If it is not worth it to do what it takes, the store will close on their watch. On their watch! That will be a sad day for Odd Fellowship.

In Friendship, Love and Truth,
Dave Reed