The issue of ‘universal brotherhood’ gets misunderstood very easily. Though it’s part of our objects, I find that it is easily misunderstood.
Why do we disagree then?
Well, being members of the theosophical Society doesn’t mean we are infallible, all knowing angels. As human beings we are bound to disagree. As long as those disagreements get fought out in decent ways, the TS is not in trouble.
Why do members get expelled?
Brotherhood can only be attempted, among human beings, if the atmosphere is kept as clean as possible. People who threaten others, are dishonest or plain annoying can be expelled. I find that usually theosophists give such people ample chance to change – and if there are reasons beyond their control why they are like that, they may be tolerated indefinitely.
Why is it brotherhood – not sisterhood or something gender-neutral?
The term brotherhood became popular in the French Revolution (Liberté, égalité, fraternité). At that time gender-neutral language hadn’t been invented yet. In fact, it is only since the late 1960’s that people have seriously attempted to write everything as gender neutral as possible. The Theosophical Society was ahead of its time in the late 19th century to even attempt brotherhood without regard to sex, race or religion (and a few other things) – but sometimes being ahead of the curve means being behind the curve later on. We have not yet found a reformulation of the objects that is in fact totally gender neutral – but the intention IS gender neutral.
Originally published here.