Keep Marching

The fourth common element of religion is ritual.  The important tenets of religion are taught and reinforced through ceremonies and traditional activities.

The religion of activism, as it were, is taught and made real through protests and marches, phone calls and letters, rallies, voting, and philanthropy work.  There are, unarguably, a set of activities which become the practice of activism.  Anyone who devotes themselves to the fight for a cause goes into it with an idea of what needs to be done.

Most of us don’t often think of these things as ritual or ceremony in the same way we think of religious observances, but in recent months the frequency and size of protests and marches I’ve attended has increased to the point that attending a protest is akin to going to church.  People talk about what we’re there for, what’s important, what the message is that we’re putting out into the world.  We hold up signs and chant and march.  It’s repeated often enough to be a common ritual.

It’s both symbolic and active, a gathering which makes the idea of a movement tangible and real.

And each group, each person, each community has their own individual ways of observing the rituals of activism.  The particular concerns and identities and cultures of a community show up in their ritual variants, just as different communities within a larger religious community have their own unique traditions.

Not only do these ceremonies and traditions and rituals bind a community together in common ideas, they are visible expressions of the things which are important to the group.  They are important both internally and externally, and they are events which serve to focus the energies and efforts of a group towards a single objective.  Much like ancient groups had hunts and feasts and communal fires which served to preserve group cohesion, rallies and meetings and marches serve to bind a group together and keep their focus on group goals.

 

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