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Taking offense, seeking revenge

Jan 08, 2009 01:23 PM
by kpauljohnson


During the runup to the November election, an article appeared in 
Slate that made me think of Theosophists:

Not just the regular dustups here at theos-talk, but also the latest 
organizational brouhaha in Adyar and Wheston, reminds me that 
Theosophists are extraordinarily disrespectful to one another.  Not 
just those in one organization attacking those in another, but within 
the Adyar TS even more so.  I wonder if people realize just what kind 
of impression of the entire movement is created when people snark one 
another in a public forum like this.  Bad enough when mere members do 
so; far worse when an elected national leader makes a big display of 
arrogance and aggression.

Yet at the local level over two decades I never noticed any 
difficulty whatsoever for Theosophists agreeing to disagree.  There 
was always a great diversity of views in any group I ever attended, 
in several states.  And no one to my recollection got all offended 
that someone else had a different estimation of various authors.  But 
at the national and international levels there seems to be far less 
of that live-and-let-live attitude.  I renewed my TSA membership 
after a ten-year lapse in 2008, but was hugely relieved to see it 
expire last week.  

The conclusion of the linked article is worth considering here.  
The "empty boats" notion would be well applied to most of the 
disputes here.  Simply to express one's opinion is to risk personally 
offending someone else, even if there was no such intention.  And the 
person thus unintentionally offended will often deliberately 
retaliate with a personal attack, as if the other person's opinion 
somehow invades their personal space.

Like any body of literature, the Theosophical writings contain mixed 
messages.  You can use HPB the same way Christians use the Bible, to 
justify both sides of every dispute.  Pedro's quote indicates that it 
is untheosophical to take offense at differing views and seek revenge 
on those who express them.  Morten's quote indicates that it is a 
theosophical duty to do so.  HPB said both; you choose which HPB to 


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