What if I told you that you are living in a cult right now? That you were born into, that you were raised in, and that you will probably die in a cult? That all your beliefs, values and goals were programmed into your mind through brainwashing? And that all your relatives, friends and colleagues are also part of the same cult? Members usually don’t admit that they belong to a cult, but I’m here to open your eyes.
To understand what a cult is, we have to go back to its origins: to a time when humanity started to form small groups hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every tribe was basically a cult with its own language or dialect, customs, norms, beliefs, traditions, myths, symbols, initiations, ceremonies, songs, tales, fashion code and rites of passage.
Just like a cult, every group had a strong charismatic leader who was seen as the father-figure of the tribe. It was ripe with the us-versus-them mentality, which strenghtened the tribe identity but also led to continous tribal wars. No matter how strange its customs were, every tribe considered itself normal and every other tribe alien, foreign and often dangerous.
Certainly, modern cults are much more sophisticated in their methods than these crude tribes, but their characteristics are basically the same. Every type of group can be considered to be a kind of collective ego, whose goal is the same as the individual ego: self-preservation. But as an individual you know that you will die, so you want to align yourself with something bigger than your own ego, in the hopes that you will somehow live on as part of the group identity.
Now that we established that all ancient tribes were cult-like, and that all modern cults are tribe-like, let’s see what happened next. Throughout history, tribes turned into kingdoms, and then into nations, tribal beliefs turned into paganism and then into organized religions, while tribal customs turned into strict norms and then into modern culture. As we can see, every pillar of modern society is based on primitive cults, so it’s not surprising that it still carries on many cult-like elements.
Every worldwide religion is in fact an overgrown cult, but I don’t want to speak about religions today. What’s not so obvious is that every culture is also basically a cult, be it national, local or popular. Every culture is a shared set of beliefs, customs and norms; a one-dimensional and skewed view of the world; an artificial idea meant to give meaning and direction to its members.
Similar to a cult, culture gives you labels, titles and identities. The most obvious cult you belong to is your nation. Your national culture defines so many aspects of your identity that it would be hard to even list them all. But this is just the beginning. You don’t belong to only one cult, you are part of many cults at the same time.
Your main identity maybe American, but you can also be a Republican or a Democrat under the same flag. There are layers of cults, embedded into each other like Russian dolls. There is a cult within a cult within a cult, a maze of subcultures of subcultures. The more identities you have, the more cults you belong to.
Like I explained in my other video titled “The cult of family”, the cornerstone of modern culture is the family unit. The parents are embedded into the wider culture around them, and they are the first to indoctrinate you into the very same culture. They ensure your basic conditioning, and then pass you on the hands of the education system, the professional brainwashers.
At school, they hijack your time so that you become overwhelmed and unable to think about the bigger questions of life. They don’t want you to ask too many unnecessary questions or question the authority of your teachers. They can punish, control and shame you until you do what you are told to do. Their goal is to culture you and not to teach you to think and act independently.
The military itself is a cult within the national cult. In their bootcamps they initiate you and break your will, and by the end form the individual soldiers into a homogenous obedient mass, ready to go to death at the whim of the leader. They encourage you to take pride in your country, and expect you to sacrifice yourself for a mere concept. Just like in a cult, lofty ideas take precedence over individual lives.
By the age of 25, when one-third of your life is already gone, your indoctrination is completed. The government expects you to join the rat race, to become a useful and decent tax-paying citizen of society. Most probably, you don’t even have a choice, because the burden of student loans weighs heavy on your shoulders.
The paycheck you receive is nothing more than a ticket to the cult of consumerism, and the credit card is really just a membership card given out to its members. They teach you that you are worth as much as your net worth, and the more valuable things you gather, the more valuable you are.
Modern culture values only material things: worldly success, wealth, appearance and fame. By making you forget about your true self, they make you their slave chasing their goals while making them rich in the process. You are playing according to the rules that they set, and the game is rigged against you. At the end of the day, the house always wins.
But it’s not just powerful institutions like governments, banks and big businesses that spread the virus of culture, the ordinary citizen takes an equally important part. Just like in a cult, it’s not only the leader who does all the recruitment, it’s the members who go out on the streets or on online forums to proselytize people. By conforming to culture, everyday citizens unwittingly help spreading it by making it seem normal and desirable.
If you want to break out of any cult, the first step is to see it for what it is. Recognize how it plays on your fears and desires, how it manipulates and enslaves you, how it rewards and punishes you. Recognizing the cult of culture is especially hard, because it’s so widespread and deep-rooted, but it’s not impossible. It’s the price you have to pay for your own freedom.
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