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Importance of Vibrancy at Lodge Level

Jun 30, 2009 09:13 PM
by MKR

Importance of Vibrancy at Lodge Level
The year, 2008 was the most tumultuous one, in the last five decades for TS
at International level starting with the nomination of the candidates.
Information about the activities at the international level do not trickle
down to the membership level due to the extremely poor communication which
is basically driven by lack of transparency and the great secrecy with which
the General Council and its members operate and continues to operate.
In 2008, Internet came to the aid; not with the help of the organization;
but due to the theosophical mailing list theos-talk setup by Eldon Tucker.
Also due to it being outside the control of TS organization - all
organizations naturally try to control, especially the channels of
communication - there was unfettered discussion of the various issues
relating to the election and its aftermath.
In the election, the key issue was the allegation of poor health of Radha
Burnier. Soon after the election, the key issues of how to spread theosophy
and how to deal with membership issue, took a back back seat and rules and
regulations and hair splitting analysis of the rules was focused, even
though they do not help either spreading theosophy or help membership
recruitment and retention.
When membership was analyzed, it was very clear that India has a steady
growth and is the largest section. On the other hand, membership outside
India is in a very sad state. Membership is either stagnant or declining and
in two countries, no new lodge was chartered for over 50 years. This fact
spoke loud and clear about the critical membership issue.
Membership is such a hot potato, that no leader even uttered the word. When
looking at the membership, one needs to look at the organizational setup.
There is total autonomy at lodge and section level so long as the main rules
of the TS are not violated. Thus there is a wide latitude of action. So the
key to the growth of TS is highly motivated members at the lodge level and
there is no substitute to it. I do not think there is any other organization
in the world that is organized with such autonomy at all levels.
Many hoped that when the General Council met in December 2008, they would
focus on this key issue. But all we heard was about votes in the
appointments. Recently, I was glad to find at least one theosophist who
touched on the topic. John Vorstermans, former General Secretary of NZ,
commented recently:
*The trick is in these old organisation we want to be lead, inspired or told
what to do (yes I know this is not completely true) but in reality the best
and most dynamic movements are ones that are lead from the bottom up.    If
we can get our act together at a branch level then the National level will
automatically follow... it cannot do anything else as the branches always
hold the upper hand but in our cases they do not use it... it only works if
all the members in the branch are active rather than just the president(s)
pushing their own view.*
It is my hope that more members and leaders start thinking about the
membership issue and find ways and means of motivating at the lodge level,
which would then lead to vibrant functioning at national and international
Until such time that the leaders around the world recognize the right
priorities, all of us have to be very vigilant in the light of recent
experiences regarding what the leaders were trying to address.
We have remind ourselves of the very sad spectacle soon after the election
to see some of the leaders misguided in their priority in their ultra secret
end-run attempt to seize the presidency by disenfranchising all of us and
take over the monopoly of appointing the president, thus make the president
a puppet in the hands of a few general council members. The secret attempt
was discovered in time and broadcast to shocked and dismayed membership. It
was the good luck of TS and its members and the help of theos-talk maillist
that saved the day. I am sure there are some very unhappy campers about the
discovery of the secret plan and its broadcast to members world-wide.
Let us all keep tuned for the next move from the leaders.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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