Gangs and Cults
In discussions with my friends and family, I realised that I and the people I know have difficulty when identifying the difference between a cult and a gang. There is likely a distinction and while both are dangerous to fall in to, I think it is important that we know the identifying features of each, how they differentiate and the dangers of both.
Let’s start with cults. The dictionary definition of a cult is ‘a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object’. Trying to understand this definition, I find myself being confused about the close link between cults and religion. I think that this is likely one of the main distinctions between cults and gangs. Cults, in nature, are based around an ideology or worship, whether that be a mainstream religion or the worship of their leader. Cults can slip through the cracks as religion, which shouldn’t take away from peoples faith. While cults can be virtually harmless, they can also be the very opposite. Not only does it affect those that are pulled in to their ways, but also those who are related to or care about those who hae been captivated by this environment. People often voluntarily enter cult environments undern the guise of self emprovement or religion while others are born in to this atmosphere. This is another main difference between cults and gangs as cults often seem more harmless from the outside than gangs.
Gangs have been growing and multiplying in major cities amongst youths for around one-hundred years. Youth gangs can feel exciting to those who choose to become a member of them. This is different from cults as many people who join a cult are unassuming to the dangers of the environment. Being part of this gang entices youths with the idea of drugs, sex and the power that carrying a weapon brings them in the monotiny of everyday life. Falling in to gang culture is more common in lower income areas, either for the excitement or because of peer pressure from others in the community or friendship groups. This means that many individuals raised in poorer areas end up trapped in areas such as that one for all of their lives. Gang activity takes focus away from academic activity and promotes an anti-school ideology, that leads to poor results that can lead to low-income employment which means that they are trapped in the same kind of areas where they first became part of the gang culture. Of course, this is not the only danger of being part of a gang and this does not happen to every single person who becomes a part of the gang culture.
Although the original purpose of this when I started writing this was to establish the differences between a cult and a gang, I now realise that they are both dangerous in their own individually terrifying ways. But there are four main things it is likely important to point. One, gangs are usually comprised of younger members, while cults normally don’t differentiate on ages. Two, cults will have a clear hierarchy, with a visible figure head. Three, while gangs are dangerous because of their use pysically violent weapons, the way that cults manipulate their members, whether that is before or after they have joined, is a different kind of deadly. And finally, four, it is easier to accidentally become enthralled by the ideology of a cult than it is to accidentally become part of gang culture.
The number of each is still rising every day, all over the world. Cults and gangs are both dangerous to people of all ages for a wide variety of reasons. Hopefully, as many of us can stay safe as possible.