Hi Bluemoon, you said
I can't disagree with you that our parents, cultures, religions, socio-economic and working arrangements, as well as various other groups and organisations all make us what we are, one way or another. If there is really no real difference between a 'culture' and a 'cult', what then is the bottom line? Is the implication therefore that an organisation like the SES should be left to its own devices and that trying to 'warn' people what they may be letting themselves in for is a waste of time? That's where my confusion lies at the moment. Your thoughts and anyone elses welcome.
You are asking a difficult question, however if you break it down into components and see just what we have control over and what we do not, and be careful to delineate what IS from what OUGHT to be.
The world is a mixture of stuff that we consider to be good, bad or neutral to varying degrees. Without the absolute word of a being greater than ourselves (ie. a god), these moral values arise from society deciding what it wants and needs the behaviour of its citizens to be. The snag is there is no manual on how exactly this works and what these relative moral standards are, so we spend our lives feeling our way around just how we live and still manage to experience some autonomy and control over our lives. Given we are in a society with the needs of thousands, millions and billions of people, society needs to make sure it moulds much of what we feel and think. So you see large groups arising where seemingly coincidentally, people all want and believe the same thing.
This pervasive conformism is something inherent in our natures and explains how we are able to co-exist in such large groups in relative harmony (a stable group of chimps is tiny in comparison, the idea of 10 million chimps living a mega city is ludicrous as they would tear each other to pieces).
This means that just as the people in any group, like SES, Moonies, internet forum are imposing ideas that are largely not their own, there are relatively few thought leaders that drive significant change in large groups. However those that oppose these groups are subject to the same mechanisms of group think.
The bottomline is that if you strongly feel that you should not (and neither should other people) gop near an organisation like SES, then you might express these ideas with little or great effect (depending upon the impact). In vernacular terms its a ‘free’ world and even though our thoughts and opinions are mostly imposed upon us we feel as if we own them and act accordingly. There are extreme organisations like James Jones and the Nazi movement that get faithful adherents for something many consider abhorrent. Today we offer this concept of ‘human rights’, freedom of association, speech, sexual orientation to try and minimise the conflict that arises due to these –isms.
Bottom line you will consider the evidence in the context of who you are at this stage of your life and act accordingly. For me, my view is that for less impressionable individuals the SES is relatively harmless, far more so than Moonies or heroin users, or people who drink alcohol, or who resort to cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, some medical groups, or people who attend church, politics, to feel they have control over their life. It is however more harmful that membership of a golf club, any particular business venture, fishing buddy groups, exercise groups, some medical groups.
Does this explain my position?