Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Freedom Stealers

December 4th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 14 secs

Hang on to your freedom.

The clearest way to see freedom is to look at life without it. To me, cults are a prime example, eliminating people’s ability to think for themselves and denying their freedom to disagree.

Talk of “cults” evokes images of weird groups of people meeting in secret, dressed in strange clothes, and oppressed by religious legalism. Every member sacrifices their freedom of independent thinking to obey the holy leader, believing that only they possess life’s ultimate truths.

Well, that’s just the sharp part of it. For, cultic behaviour is widespread and is readily seen in corporations, clubs, churches, families, and a host of different entities.  They may not be cults as such. But they do take people’s freedom in exchange for a powerful sense of belonging (which just happens to be the main attraction in the first place).

So what do I mean by cultic?  Well, any practices that impose strange or undue control over members for the purpose of idolizing a leader or organisation are cultic. That means any group who subjugate others for the glory of their special whatever are really stealing people’s freedom.

That means we need to be aware that cultish behavior is not nearly as rare as we might believe. Apart from the sinister infamy of a number of well-known cults, mainstream churches and other religions can easily and innocently behave inappropriately too. By denying people their freedom to think for themselves, express dissent, and experience clear-minded choice, they pollute their message with the same tactics.

In case you’re thinking, “Feegs, why are you talking about this issue? Aren’t you meant to be making people happy?” The reason I mention cults is to remind us what freedom means in a day-to-day way. To me, the concept of freedom of thought is closely tied to happiness. Because choosing your actions according to your beliefs doesn’t count for much if somebody else has control of your thought life. And, as for making people happy, I can share and help. But, ultimately, everyone needs to find their own satisfaction to discover long lasting happiness.

Unlike the stereotyped image of weak-willed people, research shows cult members are often well-educated, intelligent folk, with a sincere desire to live a better life. The devious practices of cults, however, gradually steal people’s common freedom until, by degrees, members are compelled to think and act in ways they’d otherwise find repelling. It’s no surprise then that similar social controls are applied to the shaping of terrorists. With ways akin to hypnosis, subjects are wooed into losing their will. And though they might testify to being completely happy, their “Matrix” movie-like experience of bliss comes at an awful price.

People say freedom is vague. But seeing what life is like without the freedom to think for your self is horrific. Corrupting the benefits of being together, cults and cultic practices need to be revealed. In this time and with what we now know, turning a blind eye to the manipulation of cults is dangerous. With compassion for their members and a firm hand for the leaders, we need to denounce these practices and remind ourselves how precious simple freedom really is.

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  1. Zephyr says:

    Though you are singling out religious cults, there are other groups with group leaders controlling their followers and admirers and forcing them to idolise them. Dissent is a dirty word and often treated with contempt and expulsion from the group. It is really surprising that people would go to such ends just to belong to some group, religious or otherwise. Well said, Feegs. If you promise to unspam me, i would love exchanging views with you. I love happiness and you are a great dispenser of it 🙂

    • Feegs says:

      Thanks for being such an encourager, Zephyr. Our need to belong runs deep. So we will go to extraordinary ends to be wanted, needed, and loved. Cults and groups that exploit this fundamental human need are manipulative and their brand of ‘happiness’ is an outright sham. Give me genuine care without strings any day!