The Mooses.  The Shriners.  The Independent Order of Oddfellows.  Fraternal organizations dedicated to doing good in their communities.

Peter Buck has said that R. E. M.’s song “Oddfellows Local 15” is actually about “these winos who used to live down the street from us.  They used to live in cars.  We called them the Motor Club.  These old guys would sleep in the cars and drink all the time.”  

Peter says, “Michael knew them because he lived right next door to them.  Every once in a while you’d give them five bucks or drop off a bottle.”

Peter Buck went on to mention an article he’d read in The New Yorker or The Atlantic.  “One of those things that my mom subscribes to,” he said.  “I read this essay [that said] the sign of a society falling apart is when it’s okay for certain segments of [that] society not to be comfortable.”

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”
—Samuel Johnson

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
—Mahatma Ghandi

“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones”
― Nelson Mandela

It seems that the world agrees.

. . . .

Adapted from R.E.M.: Inside Out: The Stories Behind Every Song by Craig Rosen