The sixth element common to religion are “characteristic emotional experiences”. Inner peace would be one example. Profound conversion experiences are another. Essentially, religion weaves a practice and philosophy around a series of experiences which have high emotional impact. It’s those experiences which draw us into the faith and provide a common ground on which to relate to other adherents. And continuing to have those experiences, to feel those extremes of emotion, keeps us engaged and invested.
Since last November I know a lot of us have had frequent and similar emotional reactions to what’s going on around us. Anger. Fear. Motivation. Solidarity. Urgency. Most of us have gone through the experience of realizing that there was so much more hate and discrimination and oppression in the world than we thought.
And, yes, most of us should have had that experience a long time ago, and there’s a lot of people who have battled this on the front lines relentlessly their whole lives, but even they had times in their childhoods when the reality of the world was revealed to them. The lifting of the veil of naivete is one of those characteristic emotional experiences.
So are the events which bring protests and the birth of movements.
So are the protests and rallies themselves, where the communal release and expression of emotions gives way to a sense of motivation and optimism.
That’s what drives movements and religions alike. We are pushed forward by the power of our deepest reactions to what we witness and experience.
And I think we all want a bit of that inner peace stuff.