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Broken windows.... (reply to Shelley)

Feb 10, 2006 04:52 AM
by kpauljohnson

Hi Shelley,

What you are seeing is the usual pattern of unmoderated newsgroups.  
When no limits are placed on acceptable behavior, and there are none 
of the factors involved in face-to-face communication that would 
reign in aggressive impulses, things get ugly fast.  The "broken 
windows" theory of law enforcement says that in a neighborhood where 
hoodlums break windows that are then left unrepaired, pretty soon all 
the windows are broken.  Theos-talk is such a neighborhood. You wrote:
> We ARE NOT : political organisations vying for electoral votes, nor 
are we kindergarten children defending our claim to the biggest swing 
in the playground.
Unfortunately, playground bullies out to dominate our discussions 
here have been doing so ever since theos-talk began.  Several people 
have written to me privately that I have some kind of duty to stand 
up to the bullies; but they don't seem to feel any responsibility to 
do so themselves, or to offer any support for those under attack.  
>  > 
> We ARE : all students of theosophy.
Historically, in terms of how much harmony can be expected based on 
past behavior, that amounts to "we are all cats in a bag."  And 
that's true even for those who call themselves Theosophists and 
belong to one of the major groups.  For others like me who belong to 
related organizations that are not within the boundaries of the 
Theosophical movement, there can be even less expectation of civility 
and a fair hearing.  That's a shame, because I'm sure there are many 
like me who would love to discuss their views about esotericism but 
remain silent out of intimidation.  This group has an extremely high 
ratio of lurkers to participants.
>  > 
> However, I doubt that any of our teachers (HPB, WQJ, AB, AAB to 
mention but a few) would endorse the nature of the recent (and not so 
recent) tirade between their students and fellow-travellers.  This 
rivalry and one-upmanship is weakening the foundation of our own 
teachings and quest for knowledge;  it is in direct conflict with 
many of the teachings of all our mentors (pl) - consider the Ego, the 
Self, the Personality for starters.  
Unfortunately, despite their highminded principles, all those 
individuals engaged in knockdown dragout sectarian hostilities 
themselves, not setting the best of examples.
> Is this what we want, i.e., to invalidate much of that which we are 
trying to achieve/promote?  What message are we sending out to those 
students new to theosophy: preach but do not practice?  I hope not.
Preach AND practice fanatical aggression towards fellow Theosophists--
that's the message being sent, alas.  
> Criticism - be it scathing or gentle - has no positive gain;

Criticism of individuals, maybe so.  But criticism of ideas and 
arguments is precisely within the bounds of the second and third 
objects.  Unfortunately, there is not much evidence of ability here 
to criticize ideas and arguments without personally attacking those 
who present them. 

> and with this letter I acknowledge that I am also "voicing my 
opinion" and therefore guilty of the same, but to NOT say anything 
seems to be worse. If you have something to teach, TEACH it.  If you 
have something to learn, ASK it.  If an offering by another student / 
teacher offends you , then...
What you are seeing is the fruition of years of bullying by a handful 
and passivity/enabling by the rest.  Where it goes from here, who 



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