“Some of the smartest people there were also the most committed. Intelligence doesn’t make you less prone to taking on bad ideas, it just makes you better at defending them to other people and to yourself. Smart people can believe some truly ridiculous things, and then deploy all the reason and logic at their disposal to justify them, because a belief doesn’t begin in your mind. It begins in your feelings.”
― Jonathan Sims
A strong word can shut a brain down from its curiosity faster than almost anything.
Especially if that strong word seems like it threatens something precious to the person.
Strong words often cloud judgment.
Strong words are not bad words. They are STRONG.
Strong words have a lot of bias attached to them.
Strong words illicit strong emotional and chemical stimuli in the body.
I know people who are taught to block out uncomfortable, controversial stimuli- because they have been born into, or joined a “safe, smart, good group” that has the source for all the important answers.
Why go looking in the big crazy dangerous world, when we have all the most important answers to life here in our comfy habitat already?
The strong word for today is: CULT.
Cult. Cult. Cult.
Are you stimulated? Numb? Annoyed? Disinterested? Opinionated? Curious?
I’m going to go ahead and do the word association game with what comes to my mind when I hear this strong word.
*Let’s see if we have any words in common.*
Extreme, vulnerable, bad, power, religion, absurd, sad, manipulation, narcissism, abuse, worship, hypnosis, sacrificing, answers, sneaky, deceitful, dangerous.
Those are just some of the words. Whoa. Those are strong words also. NO WONDER “cult” is such a loaded word! Look at the associated words next to it!
*deep breaths everyone*
Now it’s time to define this word. Demystify its power, and break it down.
-a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
-a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
-a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
Ok. So that is what “Cult” means…
But where does it exist? How can we know?
**This comprehensive list is a good place to start when asking yourself these questions and comparing them to any group you are affiliated with, or are a participant in.
1. The leader is the ultimate authority
2. The group suppresses skepticism
3. The group delegitimizes former members
4. The group is paranoid about the outside world
5. The group relies on shame cycles
6. The leader is above the law
7. The group uses “thought reform” methods
8. The group is elitist
9. There is no financial transparency
10. The group performs secret rites
I’m going to just leave this here. As a rubric of “toxic qualities any group of people can have.” No examples needed. You’ve already come up with some I’m sure. Maybe you thought of the fringe cults, extreme stories, or shocking documentaries.
*Maybe you thought of companies, families, religions, governments*
What do you do when the ones you thought of also do good loudly. Who have been around awhile, or have good reasons for past or current “oopsies”… but they still “do” (kinda, sorta, super duper) have most if not all of those 10 qualities….
What to do now?
As always, with everything… you get to decide what you do sweet thing.
You have that power.
I suggest 3 things.
1) KEEP LEARNING FOREVER.
2) Take love in.
3) Send love out.
“Even in human life we have seen the passion to dominate, almost to digest, one’s fellow, to make his whole intellectual and emotional life merely an extension of one’s own—His own little store of passion must of course be suppressed to make room for ours. If he resists this suppression… he is being very selfish.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters *a conversation between two demons*