TS Membership trend in the USA
Aug 29, 2011 10:27 PM
Membership trend in the USA
Anyone looking at the membership trend in the USA would be shocked. Today,
the membership is about one half of what it was in early 1920s.
US had several dedicated, long time theosophists who were occultists,
pundits, professors, writers, authors, para normal experiencers, executives,
artists, etc. They all worked hard and did their best. This cannot be
questioned. Let us look at the results.
Theosophy and TS
We need to look at two aspects, namely spreading of theosophy through books
and writings and lectures and building up the Section and the Lodges. While,
we have seen a lot of literature on theosophy, the picture at the
organizational level is pitiful as mentioned earlier. Now we have one half
of the membership that was there in 1920s. So the leaders have failed on the
organizational side in spite of their best efforts. The failure continues
Pulling strings from behind
The past leaders have been influencing the elections in subtle and effective
way. While we do not know to what extent the networks of âunrelatedâ
organizations are used to influence elections, one subtle way it is done is
to lend their names as supporters of specific nominated candidates for
election. This in turn makes elected officials liable for potential
influence or pressure from the past leaders who supported them in the
Ernest Woodâs book - âIs This Theosophy?â has some account of how the
âunrelatedâ organizational network is used to influence the elections. To
think that this is not happening today, is to be very naive. The average
member is not privy to how these tactics are used.
New officers feel obligated to their supporting past leaders
The new leaders and officers tend to feel obligated to the old leaders since
they may feel they got their jobs because of the support of the older and
former officers. Also there is tendency to look to them for ideas and help.
Continued wrong direction
If you look back to the growth of the TS in the USA, while a lot of books
have been published and writings have come out of the past leaders, the fact
is that they all have failed in the area of membership growth. As earlier
mentioned, the membership has continued to shrink from year to year and
today it is the lowest since 1920s and less than half of what it was in the
1920s. While the intentions of the former officers and leaders and their
dedication to theosophy and TS cannot be questioned, they have failed in the
area of membership development. By trying to act behind the scenes in
organizational and election matters, they are hurting the growth because of
the failed policies they tried in the past. What is needed is fresh blood
and fresh ideas uncontaminated by the past policies and ideas.
While the past leaders can continue to share their wisdom and experience
with respect to theosophy and its doctrines, future growth seem to depend on
their keeping away from organizational matters, both directly and
indirectly. Unfortunately, this is very hard to do once one has tasted the
power that organizational leadership gives, especially with a lot of money
in the bank. If this is not done, we will continue to see the membership
dwindling with no end in sight.
Time for new ideas and younger leaders
It is time that we look for younger leadership and new ideas of presenting
TS and theosophy to the world. We need to be reminded that when TS was
launched, both HPB and Olcott were in their prime. The Founders did not
choose some scholarly octogenarians to lead the establishment of TS. This is
a cue that TS can take and work on it.
Doing nothing and continuing the failed direction will only see the
membership shrinking while the membership in India - the largest Section -
continues to grow. There is no need to envy the size and growth and
influence of Indian membership in matters of the Society. The American
Section has a great potential to reverse the trend and accelerate growth if
only right policies and right people are put in place.
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