Sometimes topics for discussion seem to just fall into my lap. Today is one of those days. Every once in a while, before I write on Monday's, I'll scroll through my timelines on social media to see what the kids are talking about these days. Mostly a bunch of nonsense, lots of cat videos, every once in a while something that sparks my brain on a wild tangent. That's when I know that I have something worth discussing. I happened to come upon an article about an ex-cult member explaining how the brainwashing process works, and how anyone can be susceptible. Of course, this particular instance of being in an ACTUAL cult may seem kind of far-fetched, but I believe some aspects of cult life are closer to our reality than they seem. Cults have also been a very interesting subject to me. I spent a lot of my creepy childhood researching things like the Manson Family, Heaven's Gate, and The People's Temple (all extreme cases of murderous cult living...and yes I know I'm weird). I've always wondered about the process of a seemingly normal everyday person being sucked into believing and doing crazy things. Let's all take a look at this psychological phenomenon.
In the article, the lady began her journey as an activist who moved to the US. Somewhere along her search to get involved with a grassroots activism group, a lot of her comrades disbanded, leaving her all alone with her strong political beliefs. She then found a group of people that seemed to share similar ideas about a revolution. Little did she know at the time, but this group was actually a cult. She goes on to talk about how within this group, she had 2 full-time jobs (designated by the group), as well as an approved marriage. There was no time for any of her previous relationships, and she eventually became out of touch with everyone except other group members. It basically took over her entire life. Scary right? It's crazy because we normally think this is something that could never really happen to us. I'm thinking that to myself as I type! I'm wondering what sort of convincing it would take...but even more, I'm thinking if this has ALREADY happened to me! "It's a natural thing to want to distance yourself from something frightening and awful. But we need only go back to Hitler's Germany to see that it can happen to anybody. Anyone can become dissociated to the point where they are not seeing what is happening in front of their eyes."
It seems as though these days more than ever, we all want to belong to something. We all want to find a group of like-minded individuals who share our beliefs and values. We all want to fit in somewhere. Religion is probably the most obvious form of this. Now listen, I'm not gonna go shaming all religion, but I will say this, the religion I was taught to believe blindly growing up made me feel as though I couldn't question anything for myself. Thank goodness it wasn't a super strict, don't talk to anyone else type of thing, but exploring other religions was quite frowned upon. As someone who likes to learn everything about everything, I found that disappointing. I also found a lot of similarities between the church and what the lady from the article described as the five-point definition of a cult; "One: The leader is charismatic and authoritarian (the pastor). Two: The structure of the group isolates people (non-believers should be converted or we should not associate ourselves). The third thing is total ideology, like, 'You only need me and no other belief system has any relevance whatsoever (don't read about other religions)." The fourth thing is the process of brainwashing (church every Sunday to reinforce the lifestyle)." The fifth point, she says, is the result: "creating deployable followers who will do what you say regardless of their own self survival interests." Just something to think about!
Besides all of those factors, fear is another main tactic in convincing an otherwise mentally grounded individual. We are all afraid of something. Whenever our worst fears are expressed as being an immediate threat, some of us will do WHATEVER to feel safe again. As a kid, the idea of hell scared the living crap outta me. I'd have crazy hell dreams all the darn time. How terrifying! I wanted to do anything I could to avoid that place. ANYTHING! I was convinced that even questioning God could be a one-way ticket to H-E double hockey sticks. That's really no way to live if you ask me. In a constant state of fear? Just overall, a whole lot to think about.
Nowadays, I try to march to the beat of my own drum for the most part until I figure all of this stuff out. It's very easy to get caught up with people who seem to be on the same page as you, and yes, it's great having friends to confide in. I do know also that there are some things I like to question and debate about. This often gets me into arguments from time to time. There was a time when I'd agree with someone just so I wouldn't have to argue and be alienated...and lonely. Not so much anymore. I'm not afraid of being the only one who thinks the way I do. Yes, it does get quite lonesome when no one else understands, or when no one else can take the time to see something from a different perspective, but I'd rather it be this way than the alternative. In my writing each week, my goal is not to convince everyone to think the way I do...it's to think for YOURSELF. Whatever that may be. Get as much information you can for YOURSELF. These writings are merely my own findings, shared with whoever else may get the inspiration to search on their own. The website is not the Church of Bretony of Latter Day Saints contrary to popular belief. Anybody or any group that discourages knowledge is not the group for me.
At the end of the day, to each his own. If you feel better in a cult, by all means! As long as it's not a cult of terror with worldwide destructive goals, do you! I won't judge, I promise. I know that the sense of belonging is great in some. It's human nature. I'm just trying to do the best I can to be as happy, informed, and in touch with my own thoughts and feelings as possible. I hope you all do the same!
P.s. North Korea seems like one big cult.
P.p.s. I use to think my last job was very cult-like as well. However terrible I would keep telling people that place was, they would defend the terribleness to no end! They love that darn place!
P.p.p.s. It's crazy how as creepy of a kid as I was, researching all sorts of crazy killing sprees and real life torture, nothing quite scared me like Hell. They just made it seem like the worst!