Cults

Daily Meditation #169–8/10/2022

I couldn’t think of my usual, witty comment for the picture, so use your imagination in the comments!

These are hardly political thoughts in these meditations, so I ask you not to perceive this as one, either.

We live in interesting times.

People cling to “leaders” and leaders in our world like they are Jesus Christ and that every word proceeding from their mouths is Gospel knowledge or mana from Heaven — “We are so blessed to live in the same time as this person!”

They do this while simultaneously turning to those who disagree with their leaders with sharpened words and actions, armored in chainmail woven with willful ignorance and blind discipleship.

This is abhorrent behavior.

Trump.
Biden.
Musk.
Zelenskyy.
Putin.
Xi.
Jordan Peterson.

Why do we so viscerally, 100% worship or loath any one person?

Is it a jealousy?
Are we children?
Is it because we believe them unworthy?
Do we perceive them as faultless?
Are they by-definition “geniuses?”
Savants?
“Blessings” to us?

Perhaps all of these may be partial truths or halfway accurate components to some of us.

But here’s the rub:

We should truly and absolutely mind our minds and behaviors when it comes to admiration or reviling any one person.

Those who despise Trump — can you unequivocally and irrefutably say with all confidence that he is “the worst man on Earth?” That he has never done a good thing? That nothing good came from a single action he undertook as a boss or president?

Those who admire Musk — can you unequivocally and irrefutably say with all confidence that he is “the greatest man to lead us?” That he is flawless in every way he acts? That he has invented the greatest and best things for man?

In both cases, if you have a shred of self-awareness, you know that both of these men — and all men — are imperfect beasts.

They both did many good — and bad — things.

Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t admire others.
Truly, we should. Though we should not compare ourselves or our lives to them, it is fruitful to admire.
They can inspire us — in Musk’s case, perhaps to invent or lead. In Trump’s case, perhaps to campaign locally to show “true moral leadership.”

Admiration, when healthy, is a good seasoning to sprinkle into our growth. Others can show us “what good looks like” and simultaneously the bad.

But, when we blindly hang on everything they say and do…
When we foam at the mouth over every slight of them…
We we allow our own reputation, integrity, and personality to become woven into them…

Then, they are a cult leader to us, and we are no more than brainless marionette cultists, dancing, vomiting recitals, and drawing swords for them.

As we often say — you aren’t a loser, so don’t act like one.

Be willing to look at a man as a statue of LEGO. Their actions, words, and legacies are all the various, colorful, and different sized pieces making up the structure of their life, reputation, and integrity.

You must be willing to parse out the good and bad, be willing to examine your admirations, unbiased, and to both like and dislike components of their character, coming up with an ultimate decision on the whole of them.

Don’t be a cultist.
Control your perceptions and mind your mind. You are wise, so let yourself discern better the actions of those you aspire towards.

Follow for daily philosophical meditations.

These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”

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Lucas A. Davidson

Lucas A. Davidson

Born and raised a Yooper, I write daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from my book on the topic!