I have seen some putrid online posts that, if they were to be believed, would put me in the middle of a cult. And so it got me thinking – what does being in a cult actually mean?
I will now present the reader with two contrasting ways of living, both of which are from my personal lived experiences, and then leave it up to you to determine which one is a cult and which one is not.
Life Number One
This life is all about purpose, commitment to life, work and people. Although not perfected, it is about making every day count, whether out in society or at home. The question that is often asked in this life is, “What did I bring to everyone today?” Did I bring fun, humour and wisdom to the people in my day or did I let my emotions/reactions/dramas get the better of me? If the latter is the case, then tomorrow is a brand new day and a brand new opportunity to re-imprint the previous day and to work on lessening those reactions, if not ditch them completely.
In this life I spend a lot of time working, not only at my paid job but for a variety of projects and organisations that support communities locally and worldwide. Forget about that I spend a lot of time doing it, but on top of that I enjoy it immensely! Seeing the great domino effect my steadiness, respect and love for people can have with friends, family, colleagues and customers at work, makes my heart dance. Witnessing withdrawn people opening up to me and to others, having a rare hearty laugh, is what makes this life worth living.
Here I spend my money on good quality, carefully selected (mostly with the guidance from my own body) nutritious and nurturing food; clothes that I feel I can be myself in; presentations, workshops and retreats where I learn about how to make the most out of life, how to develop and deepen relationships with everything and everyone around me so that when I am out in the world I can bring even more of the amazing young man I am to everyone I meet.
This particular life is so much fun daily, and in this life I find that I can make very close friends with people who I’ve just met – or never even met in person in a couple of instances! I can see people for the gold that they are and have a way of bringing out the best in people, especially when I work with them. I can speak as a tender man who is not afraid what will come back his way.
This life is not and does not have the pressure to be perfect. Living this life, I am always given the space to learn and take lessons from life’s events and challenges and never be condemned or judged.
Life Number Two
This life is about building a life such that it is all about me and everything that suits me. In this life much time is spent being intoxicated with recreational drugs and alcohol in the company of friends who devour the same substances and where I am always looking for something different to do, some sort of artificial stimulation. In this life I laugh, however, mostly at others, not with others.
My hard-earned money in this life is spent on fast food (drive-throughs a particular favourite), cigarettes, alcohol and fizzy sugary ‘energy’ (after which I have no energy) drinks. I wear baggy and posture-altering clothes that put a slant on my body and my speech, as I make it about labels and the latest ‘trends’, following what everyone else is doing and not what truly supports me.
Large sums of money are spent on attending events in sizeable stadiums where I watch two groups of men kick a ball to compete for our applause, and of course for lots of our hard earned cash too. During these events, alongside thousands of others including very young children I chant songs, many of which include vulgar language and disturbing imagery, either promoting the group I support or verbally defecating on the other group. In this life I change my speech to match those around me, to include swear words and phrases that no Oxford dictionary may include.
In this life I have little reason to get out of bed, unless I HAVE to go to school or work. I often feel lifeless and lethargic, apathetic to serious worldly affairs. I find myself heavily invested in what my peers want me to do, all in fear of being ostracised and ridiculed if I were to go against the grain. I make friends with the type of characters I know do not suit me so that I have a sense of false protection from anything unpleasant happening to me.
In this life my work ethic is that of “I’ll do only what I have to” just to make a comfortable living. I see work as a must-do in order to afford all the aforementioned indulgences. In fact, the ideal, dreamt of scenario is to win the lottery, settle down with a good looking wife, a couple of kids perhaps, nice friends, a big house and fast cars where I don’t have to worry about anything and don’t even have to work anymore.
Whilst you might be contemplating your answer to the obvious choice, I’ll contribute an answer to my own question at the beginning: what does being in a cult actually mean?
Being in a cult means selling out my heart and Soul in return for a completely false sense of security and glamourised success.
Note to Reader: Feel free to re-read both lives however many times you like, and see the clarity of what each life has on offer for Humanity as a whole. You must have guessed by now which one I am enjoying more…
By Michael Brown, Maths Student and Manager in Retail