Regular followers will remember that last month’s column reflected on the truth, “We get the Christmas we deserve.” As I paged through the manual for inspiration for this month’s, it was perhaps fate that directed me to the Fourth Degree where the secretary addresses the candidates. After reminding them of the importance of punctuality, the secretary points out “there is work for all,” and adds “those reap the most abundant harvest of Grange benefits [are those] who contribute most liberally of their own time and talent.”
We might well wonder if our secretary is suggesting “We get the Grange we deserve.” The challenge is reminiscent of the analogy of sowing and reaping. If we sow our time and talent liberally in our Grange, we shall harvest abundantly. That could be a sobering thought for anyone who is questioning or unhappy with what the or she is “getting out” of membership. That unhappy member may be getting the Grange he or she deserves.
However, in fairness, we should also consider the accuracy of the statement, “There is work for all.” Is there? There’s got to be more going on than just meetings in order for there to be work for all.
Assuming there is work to do, it’s commonly accepted that one good membership retention technique is to get and keep new members involved. I’d like to go one further.
There’s an old joke about the pig and the hen walking down the road together. The topic of breakfast (bacon and eggs) comes up. The pig points out that all that’s required of the hen is involvement. For the pig, commitment is required.
The founders of the Grange recognized the importance of purpose and demonstrated insight into how to build an effective organization. It’s hard to get people involved in purposelessness. It’s impossible to gain commitment without purpose. With clear purpose, it should become equally clear that there is work for everyone. If there is no purpose, then there is no work. It would be like asking people to show up to weed a garden where nothing has been planted!
Another insight of our founders was building a “grassroots” organization. While the umbrella is important, each Subordinate/Community Grange gets to create their own image–an opportunity that does encourage commitment. Personally, I believe the diversity in our Order is one of our biggest strengths. We can say with confidence, “There is work for all,” because our organization is built to accommodate different passions. We’re not just for farmers. Just look at a committee list and consider the opportunities ranging from community service, healthy living, women’s activities… to children/juniors… legislative matters… and we’re not really limited to those. There are several Granges in Maine that have theatre companies. There can be engaging and rewarding work for all in any Grange.
The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.
Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.