“Ah! many travel the Jericho way,
And many are robbed and beaten each day;
And many there be on the way in need,
Whom Priest or Levite never heed;
And who to fate would yield, alas!
If some Samaritan did not pass.”
We are taught that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth,” and when we say mutual relief and assistance is a leading office in our affiliation, and that Odd-Fellowship is systematically endeavoring to improve and elevate the character of man, to imbue him with a proper conception of his capabilities for good, to enlighten his mind, to enlarge the sphere of his affections and to redeem him from the thralldom of ignorance and prejudice, and teach him to recognize the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men, we have epitomized the objects, purposes and basic principles of our order. Odd-Fellowship is broad and comprehensive. It is founded upon that eternal principle which teaches that all the world is one family and all mankind are brothers. Unheralded and unsung, it was born and went forth, a breath of love, a sweet song that has filled thousands of hearts with joy and gladness. To the rich and the poor, the old and the young, at all times, comes the rich, sweet melody of this song of humanity to comfort and to cheer. For eighty years the light of Odd-Fellowship has burned before the world, a beacon to the lost, a comfort to the wanderer and a protection to the thoughtless. Eighty years of work for humanity’s sake; eighty years devoted to teaching men to love mankind; eighty years of earnest labor, consecrated by friendship, cemented with love and beautified by truth. In ancient times men sought glory and renown in gladiatorial combat, though the victor’s laurel was wet with human blood. In modern times men seek the plaudits of the world by achievements for human good, and by striving to elevate and ennoble men. Looking back through nineteen centuries we behold a cross, and on it the crucified Christ, with nail-pierced hands, and wounded, bleeding side, but whose heart was so full of love and pity that even in His dying agonies He had compassion upon His persecutors, and cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
That event was the dividing line between the ancient and the modern era; between the rule of “brute force” and the “mild dominion of love and charity.” The mission of Odd-Fellowship, like that of the lowly Nazarene, is to replace the rule of might with the gentle influence of love, and to teach a universal fraternity in the family of man. To meet and satisfy and better keep alive the nobler elements of man’s nature. Many orders have been instituted, but none can challenge greater admiration from men, or deserve more blessings from heaven, than the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows.