* * *
Dear Sister Bland:
I am sending herewith a writeup of some of my thoughts for 2009 for the consideration of yourself and other members of the Board of Directors.
I will be thankful if you can also arrange to distribute it to the members of the Board of Directors so that the Board may consider it.
M K Ramadoss
* * *
National President and Board of Directors,
Theosophical Society in America,
Some thoughts for 2009
Dear Brothers & Sisters:
I am a member of TSA and have not held any National level office or planning to hold any National level office in the future. We are on to the New Year 2009 and I wish to submit and share some thoughts from the point of view of an ordinary member. The intent of sharing them with you all is in the hope that they may help TSA and theosophy and theosophists in the current year.
MEMBERS' TRUST IN ELECTED LEADERS
Last year events surrounding the electioneering and subsequent responses to the election results, had a deep adverse effect on the trust of many members in their leaders. Following this, the attempt to disenfranchise the membership world-wide and seize control of the election of the President made the situation worse, due to the players involved and the timing of the attempt and the great secrecy of the attempt.
The disenfranchisement attempt was viewed extremely adversely because, already the GC members have the sole monopoly in nominating the candidates. Now some GC members wanted to monopolize the election as well. In addition, this attempt was made in great secrecy and but for the disclosure on Internet, it would have been a successful coup. This audacious attempt resulted in further deep erosion of trust many members had in the elected leaders. The trust has be rebuilt. And rebuilt soon.
GC addresses issues affecting the TS world-wide and its job is to represent the interests of the members world-wide. However, the membership is never informed of the details of the issues discussed and decisions taken, and reasons thereof. TS is not a secret body. Hence there is no need to keep members in the dark about what goes on in the GC. Unnecessary secrecy does not help TS or its members. On the other hand can only cause problems. Master K.H., in his 1900 letter to Annie Besant commented:
"MISLEADING SECRECY HAS GIVEN THE DEATH BLOW TO NUMEROUS ORGANIZATIONS."
I think this statement is a very important one. I would not want TS or TSA to be a victim of misleading secrecy. So, it would in the interests of TSA and TS to take immediate steps to introduce transparency. As a first step, we can open up TSA Board Meetings to members. Members can attend as observers and see first hand, how difficult and hard are the issues dealt with by the Board. Issues like personnel evaluation, legal advise and litigation can be held in closed sessions like being handled in thousands of public bodies all over the Country.
RECENT GC MEETING
Our National President, attended the recent GC meeting at Adyar as our representative. Membership do not know anything about the issues and decisions taken. Many are wondering about what happened at the meeting.
Since TS is not a secret body and the GC decisions are not secret, and informing the membership about the issues discussed, decisions taken and reasons behind the decisions as well as the players involved will be a positive step in rebuilding the members' trust in our leaders. Sunshine can never hurt. So I urge the National President quickly inform the membership of the meeting proceedings. Speed is of the essence. Delay can only encourage rumors to go around and can in many cases, create possible problems.
Today Internet is available and can be used to communicate with members, and most members in the USA have access to Internet. It is easy, quick and cost-effective and appropriate in today's difficult financial situation. There are also free e-mail lists such as theos-talk, where information can be posted. Any dissemination in hard copy, which takes time, can follow.
Leadership keeping frequent communication with members is important and cannot but help TSA and theosophy. Internet has been available for most of us since 1996 and the most often used application is e-mail. We all know TS leaders around the world have been using e-mail to communicate between them. E-mail can be effectively used by all Board Members including the National President, to keep in touch with the members. This can only help everyone and TSA.
MEMBERSHIP RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
One of the facts that was brought to everyone's attention last year was that the membership has been growing in India, whereas membership outside India has been going down. For example, in TSA, the membership was 2,637 in 1905 and it went up to 4,145 in 1913. In recent years, it has been hovering around 4,000 The most recent membership was 3,899. So the situation is depressing.
Membership recruitment and retention issue has been on the back burner for too long and we have not seen much discussion about it. It appears that there is a correlation between the enthusiasm and activity of the lodges and the membership growth. This needs to be looked at closely and possible steps taken to improve membership situation.
REJUVENATING LODGES/OPENING NEW LODGES
While the Lodges are autonomous, in the past decades there were quite a few visiting lecturers. Even in the Internet age, visits by lecturers (not necessarily "official lecturers") always had a salutary effect in rejuvenation of lodge activities. In addition, lecturers are able to get first hand information about the conditions of the lodge and the needs and problems faced by the lodge. This information will be very useful in helping the lodges in their activities and cannot be gathered remotely. I urge this issue be considered urgently.
Man and Woman live by Hope. Let us all join together and hope that by taking appropriate steps, 2009 will see a year of growth of lodges and spread of theosophy.
M K Ramadoss, San Antonio, Texas
THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TRUTH
cc: Brothers & Sisters
Last update: January 2009