Could Marcus Be A Cult Leader?
Okay, just up front, I have no desire to be a cult leader. I like my hair, I’m not into polygamy and I’m wary of anyone who says they have a personal relationship with the divine, especially if that divinity is “directing” the conduit.
Cult: “It’s the church you do not go to.” This is the definition from my friend, Steve. Simplistic, but it fits. In true definition, a cult (as defined by sociologists) must claim to have secret, divine knowledge, typically has a charismatic leader who followers believe has a closer link to the divinity and the cult is in some way separate and at odds with the public; i.e., non believers.
I’ve been listening to Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History podcast. It’s amazing, if for nothing besides the stories he tells. Just finished listening to “Prophets of Doom” which is about the splintering of Martin Luther from the Catholic Church and the anti-Baptists and these cult leaders circa 1530. Carlin draws a lot of parallels with modern day cults like David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, as well as Jim Jones.
Made me wonder: Could cults exist today? In 2014 modern times, with the ease of communication via social media and the 24 hour news cycle, could someone like Jim Jones gain enough followers to do any significant damage to themselves or their community? The answer, of course, is yes.
Go back to what PT Barnum said: There’s a sucker born every minute.” That may not be a direct quote, I apologize to the circus man. But yes, there are always going to be enough people with so little discernment who don’t mind staying ignorant. And, there will always be people with mass amounts of charisma who can persuade individuals and groups to do the leader’s will. So, I thought of Hitler’s rise to power. I thought of Saddam Hussein taking over the political powers of Iraq back in the late 70s and early 80s. It made me wonder if that could happen today. Like, if someone tried strongarming an organization for the leadership role, I think most people would be documenting it with their smart phone cameras and tweeting info to the world. I have to think there may also be a few folks googling the name of the person attempting to gain power, finding his/her dirty laundry and that info immediately going to the world, too.
So, THAT made me wonder if I could be a cult leader? I mean, most people like me. And while most people in my audiences are intelligent, rational people, you may want to refer back to the PT Barnum quote. I consider what I do in front of audiences to be sacred. That is, I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I have the opportunity to do good in the world and spread acceptance, compassion and love. Why, with that honor, would I try to stroke my own ego? I wouldn’t…but, we all know someone who would.
Other than ISIS, it seems like a good, long while since we’ve heard much about cults in the world. In fact, I can’t think of a single cult making the news since the whole Heaven’s Gate mass suicide back in ’97.
Is this because we are getting wiser as a society? Maybe. Is it because we have easier access to information? Also maybe. Is it because it’s easier to get someone’s dirty laundry and we vet people, much like we vet politicians? Absolutely.
I don’t want to be a cult leader. Heck, I’m not sure I even want to be a leader of anything. I just know that any abuse of power and prestige, especially in the name of divinity, is something I hope we will all raise an eyebrow towards.