A Higher Purpose

The final thing on the list of characteristics of religion is the idea of sacredness.  In most religions, some things are sacred and some profane.  There is a division between things which are of or related to the faith, the deity or deities of the religion, and those things which are of the mundane world.

This is where it’s a little bit difficult to draw a parallel between activism and traditional religion.  Activism doesn’t involve worship, per se, only a communal agreement and commitment to particular action.  There’s an end goal, a unifying purpose, but no deity to follow or please.

On the other hand, there is an obvious sense in these times that there are activities which are productive, progressive, involved, and those which amount to avoidance and escape.  There are ways of living which contribute to progress and the elevation of humanity, and those which contribute to maintaining the oppression of the status quo.  There’s even a clear division between action and those things which we are supposed to do when we feel worn out and stressed by the weight of reality.

I think, perhaps, the clearest parallel to the sacred/profane dichotomy in religion is the duality between things which serve a greater purpose and things which serve only ourselves.  That is not to say that to partake in self-focused activities or self-indulgent things is bad any more than religion condemns paying bills or watching television.  But just as religion absolutely condemns (in most cases) a focused dedication to the mundane world which results in an abandonment or rejection of faith, activism calls for us to speak out very loudly against a focused dedication to one’s own existence in order to ignore the larger problems faced by humanity.

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