Whether you want to believe it or not you’re in a cult. Apologies for being the bearer of bad news but it’s true. Rather than dwell on the fact let’s move forward with an exercise. I want you to look up the definition of a cult. Since you’re already online it shouldn’t require much effort. Done googling it yet? What did you find? Now I want you to remove the word ‘religion’ from the focus; all religions are cults so I’m not going spend any time on that (for now). Again, what do we see? Pretty interesting right? I’d like you to take particular note of the synonyms. Now that you see them continue just a bit further to absorb the full context of the word.
How do you feel? Unchanged, okay…well you could probably stop reading this now. Curious as to where I’m going? Wonderful, time for a deeper examination of semantics. According to the online version of Merriam Webster (I’d like to think a solid, reliable source) the second definition of the word cult reads – “a great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.” Hmm, interesting. Now if we go back to the first definition Merriam gives and as I suggested earlier remove “religion” from it’s wording what we are left with is (I’m paraphrasing) – a [formalized belief] regarded as orthodox or spurious…[and] also its body of adherents.
So, there you have it in a nut shell. All a cult really is, is a group of people with a formalized set of beliefs. From the continued practice of these communally accepted ideas or principles we have what is known as culture. In fact, the word cult and culture share the same Latin root word, ‘colere’ which means ‘to tend or cultivate’. As I stated previously I’m not on a mission to get into religion with this post or even discuss cults as they are most popularly highlighted in American society, i.e. Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, etc. What I would like to discuss are some of the cults we belong to that effect the whole of our existence just as much as any religious belief yet for some reason aren’t properly understood as cults.
- This is a no-brainer. The larger the number of employees the closer it becomes to a pure, unaltered cult. Think about it. You have 40, 50, 60,000+ people ‘greatly devoted to…work’ (albeit to various degrees). The object is a paycheck, the idea is to provide security of some sort and the movement is away from concepts such as individuality and freedom of a person towards being little more than an automaton. (**Author’s note – I presently belong to this cult so don’t fret if you do too)
- Political Parties
- Unlike the prior cult I NO longer belong to this one. In a world where there’s 40+ flavors of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream but only two major political parties (United States) I’m not sure how a person doesn’t see this as some cultic shit. While it’s most often centered around something like the Presidential Election the phrase ‘lesser of two evils’ is something if thought about at greater length sounds both spurious as well as unorthodox. We (of which I include myself) willfully suspend a great amount of personal belief in order to gravitate around the ideology of holding up one person in reverence. Game. Set. Cult.
- [Blind] Patriot (Patriotism)
- In America we know who these people are and while it’s commendable to have appreciation and even a sense of pride for where one is from an alarm has to sound when it’s carried on to a level of complete and totally blind devotion to one’s native land. What makes this group of folks particularly fascinating is that they manage to fit all the criteria of a cult by only the mere substitution of a ‘god’ by the ‘state’. Think about it for a moment. If you had to come up with one sentence to describe this group to the letter, what would it be? For me, I would say ‘a person with a great devotion to a leader or leaders, the idea of freedom (whatever the fuck that is) with the object being the spread of (in the case of the US) democracy everywhere, to allow the movement of capital markets to work where they have not prior been. I think that sounds about right?
There you have it, three things you’ve probably had thoughts of but not necessarily in the perspective of what they really are. Of course, there’s a ton more and I’m sure at some point if I keep this site going we’ll touch on quite a few additional ones. This post though was about re-framing perspective. I don’t know much but one thing I am certain about (and will touch on in greater length later) is that there is no such thing as reality. Yes, there’s definable realities and boundaries established by the wonderful fields of physics and mathematics but in the realm of human existence the only true thing is how someone perceives the world. So, huge congratulations go out to you – and I as well. We are all the proud members of some kind of cult and while its not Costco (which could also be argued is a cult….really, who the hell needs 20 tubes of toothpaste) we have all done our primary humanly duty and made sure we belong to something. After all we are just primates.