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Re: How Would You Handle It?

Dec 27, 1996 12:49 PM
by JRC

Bart ...
	A further note ... the United Way problem (a couple of years ago
now) is quite illuminating ... the United Way is structured so that the
national level serves at the pleasure of, and to serve the interests and
activities of ... the local chapters. The national President was caught
doing things like taking his girlfriend on the Concorde for dinner in
Paris. When this first started coming to light, the national level engaged
in all sorts of investigations - and they were moving very slowly - well,
the *local* chapters, in large numbers, began simply withholding their
payments to the national ... and this had the effect of greatly speeding
all sorts of changes, people were very quickly booted, new accounting
procedures and checks and balances put into place, & etc.
	Our National Headquarters appears to act as though Lodges and
members are meant to serve the interests and ideology of Wheaton, rather
than Wheaton facilitating the study and practice of Theosophy *as each
Lodge conceives those things to be*.

Imagine *this* scenerio:

The national bylaws are so structured so that membership dues are paid not
to Wheaton, but to the treasurer of *each Lodge*. Standardized bylaws
sophisticated enough to ensure financial responsibility are put into
place. Each (quarter/half year/year) each Lodge pays *half* the dues to
Headquarters, and may pay *or withhold* the other half - depending upon
the extent to which it believes it can better further its activites with
the benefits it receives from Wheaton, or by spending the money on its
*own* projects. That is, if Wheaton served the interests of Theosophy *as
thesophists conceived them* it would prosper and find its work furthered.
If, however, Wheaton, in the opinion of the Lodges, was *not* producing
what the Lodges considered to be programs and projects that served their
members, Wheaton's abilities to engage in further such activities would be

Envision the creativity it might unleash if suddenly financial incentives
were structured so that
1) Lodges had incentives to recruit and retain members - if suddenly there
were incentives to do more public programs, to adjust the presentation of
Theosophy to the current world and the problems faced by the communities
in which Lodges operated. As it stands right now, there is no incentive at
all to recruit and retain ... but if the successful adaptation of
Theosophy to the modern world, introductory programs dynamic and lively,
enabled Lodges some funds to further expand their work - it could well
breathe life back into a dying Society. *Success should be rewarded and
creatvity encouraged*.

2) Well, you say, Lodges can already charge extra dues. Yes, but in making
Wheaton partially *dependent* upon the discretion of Lodges, it would mean
that Wheaton had incentives to *serve the membership in the ways the
membership desired to be served*. Wheaton seems to be constantly producing
all manner of study guides (for those topics *it* considers suitable for
study), programs, videos, etc., etc. But there is absolutely no reason for
them to even consider whether they actually suit anything but their own
opinions - and in some cases seem little other than opportunities for
someone at HQ to explore their own personal interests. (I remember a
couple of times the Lodge I belonged to got materials HQ wanted
reviewed ... and a couple of them were *so* bad, *so* bloody *boring* that
our Lodge concluded that if we ever showed them in public, it would be the
surest way to cut Lodge membership in half.) What if Wheaton suddenly had
to *justify* its activities ... What if, (for instance), a Lodge,
disappointed with the introductory materials produced by Wheaton for a
particular topic, had some operating money to produce *their own video*
.. tapped the resources of its membership, and wound up producing
something far more creative and engaging than the Wheaton production ...
and what if then they could *advertise and sell it* to other Lodges that
*themselves* had the discretionary funds to buy such things. What if, in
short, Wheaton was not free to determine, like some parent, what *it*
thought was "best" for Theosophy, but had instead to concern itself with
serving the Lodges and members *as the Lodges and members desired to be

Theosophy, IMO, considered at the largest level, would be far, *far*
better served if its leadership, instead of trying to *control* the
membership, instead attempted to *unleash it*.

But this is based on a certain set of assumptions not shared by Wheaton:

1) That the vast majority of Theosophists are *spiritually responsible* -
that is, that they do not take lightly their membership, and take
seriously the activities they consider "theosophical". That is, *the
membership can be trusted*.

2) That members and Lodges are capable of reading the Three Objects, and
determining *for themselves*, according to conscience and predilection,
the best ways to express those Objects, and further Theosophy in the world
at large.

3) That a decentralized structure would *appear* sloppy, mistakes would be
made and odd directions taken - but that decentralization would also mean
mistakes *could* be made and any damage would be localized and limited. To
attempt to produce a Society relevent to, *and in the service of*, the
21st century (instead of the 19th) ... individuals and Lodges *need to be
able to make mistakes*. *Every* corporation or non-profit that has
survived in the long term has done so because it has found the way to
continually adjust itself to the changing world ... seems to continually
be coming up with new ways of presenting itself ... but what is rarely
pointed out is that for every new successful product or program, a dozen
failures happened. Success in organizations almost invariably comes from
an environment in which exists *the freedom to make mistakes*.

4) That Headquarters, *according to the intentions of HPB, our founder* is
*not* supposed to be a platform for imposing a specific ideology, but
rather is responsible for administering resources that belong to *all
theosophists*. The assets it is responsible for, the funds, the Trust
moneys, the Library & etc., come from the *goodwill of individual members,
past and present* ... and for any faction at Wheaton to *use* these assets
as leverage to determine the *ideology* of the membership is a *severe*
abuse of power. In order, for instance, to have access to the Olcott
Library - something John Algeo did not and could not create - I would have
to pay $30 to further Algeo's particular vision of Theosophy ... a vision
that has the current TS in *worse shape*, both financially and in terms of
memmbership, than it was before he took office.

You need not pose a hypothetical situation concerning your Lodge to raise
concerns about the structure of today's TSA - an *actual* problem, a
dangerous situation, *already exists* ... a *stealth campaign* has been
waged successfully by a few people who believe they know better than the
membership as a whole what "Theosophy" and "theosophical activity" is.
Slowly and incrementally over the past decade, more and more bylaws have
been passed that make it difficult to gain board positions or officer
positions unless one is "approved", control over Lodge assets have now
been put in the hands of this faction ... and new Lodges and study groups
must conform to the ideological standards they set. It would be a very
good idea for your Lodge to re-think its bylaws to make the Lodge assets
resistant to takeover by the Christian Coalition or Scientology, but you
may also wish to consider that if your Lodge happens to stray too far from
what Wheaton considers appropriate theosophical study ... you may well
find the worst threat to your assets comes not from any outside agency,
but from the TS itself.
						Regards, -JRC

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