House on Fire ??? – Additional Comments
Aug 22, 2008 10:50 PM
House on Fire ??? ? Additional Comments.
In continuation of my earlier message on the subject, here are some further
comments for your kind consideration.
RECENT INTERNATIONAL ELECTION
The recent International election, it appears to me, has brought out some
fundamental issues. This is due to the manner the election nomination
strategy unfolded and how subsequent electioneering developed.
Internet became an indispensable tool in election (in public forums and
behind the scene activities). But for Internet, lay and new members around
the world would have been kept in total darkness about the
activities/actions behind the scene carried out by some of the GC members.
>From a lay member's point of view, the key issues facing the TS seem to be:
... Decline of Membership outside India especially in the USA.
... Causes of Growth/Decline.
... Not using Internet for multi-directional communication with membership.
... Ageing Leadership
Membership has increased in India during the last several decades. However,
there is a sharp drop in most of the other countries. The fundamental reason
for the growth in India is due to membership activity at Lodge Level. I have
seen in India, the dynamism, high level of dedication and enthusiasm at the
Lodge level. Anyone doubting the dynamism, dedication and enthusiasm of
members at Lodge level in India, should visit the lodges and see for
Outside India, American Section has the largest membership and perhaps the
most affluent. Membership has dropped rather precipitously since1980's and
has not recovered during the last decades. Here is an excerpt of a letter
written by a member of American Section to the National President
(Secretary) in 1998 and posted on Internet maillist.
"From 8000 members in 1980 when I joined, to less than 4000 today, how could
you let this happen?"
The full letter is at:
It is to be noted, that two of the recent leaders of the American Section
are John Algeo and Betty Bland. The above letter was sent to John Algeo when
he was the National President (Secretary).
The decline seems to indicate a fundamental weakness at the lodge/center
level, since that is where the real action lies for growth of the
So it is high time that some of the visionary leaders who seem to believe
that modern communication technology is the panacea, should try it in their
backyards and prove them before advocating them for world-wide use. If it is
proven as the cure, then it can be implemented world-wide.
RESISTANCE TO INTERNET AS A TOOL OF COMMUNICATION WITH MEMBERSHIP
Internet is basically a tool to communicate and distribute information. On
the distribution capability, information is made available and anyone who
wants it can find it and transfer it to their computer. It is more like the
old-time print, video, audio or TV. Mostly it is not yet real-time
E-mail is the simplest and least expensive application and is also the most
widely used one. E-mail used in mail-list setting, lends itself to multi-way
interactive communication and that is what makes it very effective and
productive. At present this has not been used by the leadership (national
and international) in multi-way interacting with membership. Bits and pieces
of information that came out during the recent electioneering showed that it
is extensively used behind the scenes by the GC leaders around the world. In
e-mail application, there is a deep chasm between the leadership and lay
membership. The interaction divide between leadership and lay members can
easily be fixed with Internet and it cannot but help TS and Theosophy in
21st century. As for the future, TS may not have a choice. Internet
Juggernaut is on the move and nothing is going to stop it.
Aging leadership in TS around the world is obvious to every one. We lay
members, have not seen any indication of the open recognition of this fact
by the leadership at Section and International level. Also not seen is any
serious attempt to invite and nurture younger - non-elderly - leaders.
Looking at the history of dynamic movements in the past, all the growth took
place with young or middle aged leaders. Even the launch and growth of TS
took place under the leadership of men and women who gave their prime of
I hope some of the above thoughts might help TS to move into 21st century.
M K Ramadoss, San Antonio Lodge, USA
For issues after the election, go to:
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