I am sometimes cautious about who I use the word ‘cult’ around when I talk about my past since I think it can get interpreted to mean ‘one who believes and works towards big ideas’ and that isn’t what I mean at all. I mean the kind of control that feels intimate and taps not into our biggest goals but our deepest fears. That make us feel unworthy of the exact things we claim to be fighting for: happiness, a voice, safety. It is interesting to see the strong similarities in practice, power structures etc across groups with seemingly different philosophies. I also think it’s useful not just for asking ‘ is this a cult’ but is this coercive behaviour? Whether it’s controlling someone’s behavour, intimate partner violence, systemic racism, we can see how undermining the humanity of others is an interwoven pattern of behaviour, and learning to call it out can be both powerful and healing.
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