Someone recently asked me “what are the goals and purpose of the Theosophical Order of Service in the USA”.
It seems a simple question. I could quote our motto: "A union of those who love in the service of all that suffers." I could quote our mission: "To promote reverence for all life, universal brotherhood, and world peace through service activity."
Mottos and mission statements are of necessity designed to get to the heart of the matter – the ultimate goal. We all know that. Once we have decided upon a mission, however, the real question becomes HOW we do that?
The TOS has been struggling with this question ever since its inception. Think about it. “To promote reverence for ALL life, UNIVERSAL brotherhood, and WORLD peace . . .”. The concept is daunting. In fact, for many of us, the idea of actually completing such grand goals is paralyzing, so much so that we don’t even try because we don’t know where to begin.
But wait . . . . We have not set for ourselves the task of accomplishing these grand goals, but rather of “promoting” them. Whew . . . that gives us a little breathing room. The word “promote” also suggests that we don’t have to accomplish all of this by ourselves. We can get help from others, we can help others, or we can draw attention to the efforts of others who are on a similar path and already have their “machinery” in place. And, that’s what we do.
The TOS-USA is a small organization with limited resources. We have a board of seven, plus two honorary directors who live in six different states and meet twice a year.
The decentralized national structure of the TOS-USA causes us to depend greatly on our communications: For The Love of Life, periodic newsletters and our website, www.theoservice.org to keep in touch with you, share what is going on in the TOS, and let you know about the interesting and worthwhile endeavors of our and other organizations. We use these vehicles to promote our mission.
Our decentralized structure makes it difficult to devise and maintain a specific, nationwide project. So then, how do we who are spread across this vast country accomplish our rather ambitious mission?
Another saying – that we have all seen on bumper stickers – comes to mind: “Think Globally; Act Locally”. I love this bumper sticker. When our service projects are put into that context they become doable rather than daunting. And, that’s where you, our members, our most valuable resource, come in.
For many years, individuals and local TSA/TOS lodges and study centers have carried out service projects and/or searched for ideas for service projects. A few years ago we decided to create TOS liaisons in order to give a more definitive connection between local TOS groups, the TOS Board of Directors and each other.
Consequently, a number of our TSA lodges appointed members as TOS liaisons. These folks communicate with Kathy Gann, the TOS Board’s liaison coordinator, sharing with her their accomplished projects as well as ideas for group service projects. Among other things, Kathy produces a periodic e-newsletter that is sent to the liaisons or the group leader of those TSA groups that have not yet named a specific TOS liaison. The liaison or group leader can then share the e-newsletter with their members, perhaps getting ideas for service projects that they themselves can also carry out in their localities.
Seed money to get your project started is available. Seed money application forms can be found at www.theoservice.org. (Webmaster's note 1/29/2013: Links to the seek money request forms will soon be posted here.)
Sometimes though, we do get the opportunity to participate in a more far-reaching event. This coming July immediately following the TSA’s Summer National Convention (SNC), the TSA and the TOS-USA will host the Third TOS International Conference at Olcott, the TSA’s National Headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. Here we will have the unique opportunity to lend our ideas, our voices and our service on a global level.
All active TOS members are invited to this working conference where we will discuss and plan “The TOS into the Future”. Information on the conference and application forms are available on our website at www.theoservice.org . (Webmaster's note: Soon to become available.)
Finally, I would like to invite you to join me in a personal service project. Shortly after Betty Bland left the presidency of The Theosophical Society in America, she cut her hair and donated it to Locks of Love, a non-profit that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair.
It occurred to me that it would be an easy and creative service project to simply allow your hair to grow. Then, when its length is adequate for wig making, have it cut and send it to Locks of Love. A service project can’t get much easier than that!
You can find the exact specifications of how and where to send your hair on the Locks of Love website www.locksoflove.org. Basically, 11 inches of hair is needed. Will you join me in this project to create beautiful wigs for children?