Be Odd‚ Be CourteousFrederick L. Phelps, Past Sovereign Grand Master
While Oddfellowship does not and never has had any monopoly for the developing of those virtues, which tend to produce good, upright men and women, it does, however, provide the opportunity for them to become character, integrity and real brotherhood. But few united in a common effort to promote the building of people are able to achieve these distinctive moral qualities simply by their own efforts. Hence, to such, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the World extends the helping hand of true Fellowship so that all who may strive to find a common purpose in their lives may join together with others in serving, to the best of their ability, their GOD, their Country and their Fellowmen.
We cannot of course all be Wildey's or Ridgely's: They were truly the Founders of American Odd Fellowship, but we can and should endeavor to emulate, in our daily lives, their teachings, as well as of other of our beloved Leaders. In so doing, we shall surely become better Odd Fellows and better Citizens in the various communities wherein we make our homes and attend our Lodges.
We believe that all this is indeed true for there does not exist a human being who is not dependent upon his fellowman for his very life, or who is not obligated to contribute to the extent of his or her ability, to the welfare and the happiness of his neighbors.
We are prone to use "Words" as the vehicles with which to communicate our thoughts and ideas, but unless we translate them into "deeds and actions," these words themselves are empty and without any meaning. Thus it is the duty of every Odd Fellow to assist in elevating and improving the spiritual and moral qualities of those communities in which he or she lives; by always standing for truth and morality in all civic affairs; by demonstrating integrity and honesty in their business relations; by maintaining dignity and forth-rightness in their social activities; by displaying in their daily behavior those qualities of truth and justice, the characteristics of all true Odd Fellows. To the extent that we accept such responsibilities will our great Fraternity fulfill its true destiny; that of making this World a better, safer and happier one in which we and our children may live.
To the extent that we meet this challenge of our tremendous responsibility to the world at large, will our great Institution of Oddfellowship keep on giving freely of itself those Services that others may become Better Citizens for having been closely associated noble men and women Odd Fellows.
'Tis said that John Donne, the great 17th Century Poet wrote thusly: "No man is an island, entire of itself-any man's death involves me as I am a man; Never send word to know, for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." It is this uncertainty of Life that makes us sit up and listen to the Teaching of our Order for is it not because Odd Fellowship has Kept its Faith in the Fatherhood of its God, and has never forsaken its belief in the Brotherhood of Man, that its beautiful White Flag, emblazoned with the Scarlet Three Links, shines forth today as a great and wonderful Beacon, of Service to Humanity.
We have many beautiful Mottos ever before us, including these: "Service Above Self, Inspires Others"; "Be Odd, Be Courteous"; "We Seek To Improve and Elevate The Character of Man" Perhaps the strangest is this one: "Always Fill The Need When We See It. Never Inquiring To What Race, Color Or Creed The One In Need Belongs. Just Relieve Them Quickly." Is it any wonder that we are called-Odd Fellows: So, let us always live our lives, Serving Others.
Source: A concise history of American Odd Fellowship 1943-1963