[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

"My way or else..."

Jul 08, 1998 07:46 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

you're an evil, uncharitable, heartless hypocrite."

Yesterday I unsubscribed from theos-talk due to my feelings about
the recent discussions there.  Since my last post there was
forwarded here without my foreknowledge, I will add a few words
about what I see happening there-- and now here.

It's fine for Alan to come up with a plan that he thinks the most
workable, reasonable one to solve his problem.  Fine for other
people to perceive that plan in the same way, and support it.
Fine for others to question the plan and say why they don't
support it.  Fine for others to express ambivalence or explain
why they are unable to support it.  Nothing in any of that is

What is IMO absolutely intolerable is that those who support the
plan present it as the universal duty of everyone on the list to
do so, and demonize anyone who resists this claim.  (If one is
"too poor" to contribute one is off the hook, but if one has
money that could be sent, and chooses not to do so for whatever
reason, one becomes the epitome of hypocrisy, lack of compassion,
untheosophical behavior, unbrotherliness, you name it.)

Whenever any appeal is made to one's conscience, there are a
number of factors that come into play:
1. Is this a good cause, e.g. will my help do any good?  Here,
for example, it is easy to place contributing to disaster relief
to a recognized agency above contributing to someone who says "I
need this money to buy a gun."  (I'm not making that up, it
happened to me.)
2. Am I able to contribute the money, time or energy asked of me?
3. Do I feel personally responsible for this, i.e. does this
situation have a particular claim on me?  
4. Can I trust the person or agency soliciting assistance to do
with it what they say they will?

Now, in response to the raising of $130,000 for Alan and Bob to
purchase a house, in order to prevent Bob from doing violence to
himself or others which would occur should he be obliged to move,
I start out with a definite no to #1.  I don't believe that the
stated plan will achieve the stated objective in any way that
seems secure.  Moreover, I don't think the requisite amount can
be raised in the requisite time.  Alan's time and energy would be
better spent by seeking ways to adjust Bob to the prospect of
moving, and to finding alternative lodging.  If the move should
be financially burdensome, I'd contribute to that.  As for
ability to contribute-- not very much but something.  Now for the
criterion that can be easily attacked as "selfish" but which in
fact everyone applies.  Family comes first, real life friends
come second, community needs come third in terms of my
responsiveness to claims for help.  Why?  I owe all these groups
something by virtue of what I have received from them.  When it
comes to claims by virtue of being a fellow-Theosophist, or
having been acquainted on some e-lists for several years, those
just don't fall into the same category.  Similarly, if *I* needed
help I'd go first to family, then to friends and then to the
community.  With #4, I don't trust that the funds collected will
actually go to the purchase of the house, not because Alan won't
try his best to make that happen, but because it just doesn't
seem a likely outcome.

I have been profoundly alienated by some of the things supporters
of the house purchase plan have said to those who express
reservations.  To equate someone who wishes to avoid the kind of
discussions that are now going on about this
particular scheme to solve this particular problem with the
Germans who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust is symptomatic of
what Jung called "inflation."  Perceiving this cause to be good,
Thoa perceives opposition or indifference to it as evil, and
then elevates herself and those who share her perspective as "THE
GOOD GUYS" and those who do not become "THE EVIL ONES."  Not in
so many words but implicitly.  Similarly, Alan equates being a
sincere Theosophist with sending him money for this cause, and
regards anyone who can but won't as a hypocrite and bad
Theosophist.  Doss identifies supporting this particular plan
with "help" and any questioning or criticism of it as "getting in
the way."  I would reply that some of us don't see the house
buying scheme as helpful, and think that orienting Alan to other
approaches *is* helpful and the best way to a positive solution.
That's quite evidently true of Eldon's long and carefully thought
out post.

Finally, Thoa perceives my reaction to this situation as
symptomatic of an effort to avoid guilt feelings.  In fact, it
has inspired very deep guilt feelings, but not about Alan.
And in typical Scorpio fashion, I'm not avoiding them but rather
brooding for days.  This has made me think about family, friends, community,
coworkers, all the people to whom I clearly owe support in the
form of time, energy and money.  And given the limitations on all
those commodities for almost everyone, most of us can probably
share that kind of guilt feeling that we just don't do enough
for others.  It's having that underlying sense of responsibility
and guilt evoked, and then manipulated toward support of a
particular scheme to solve a particular problem-- a scheme that
meets none of the criteria I outline above-- that really disgusts
and angers me about the tactics of Alan's "supporters."

I do hope and pray for a positive outcome for Alan and Bob.

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application