8 years ago, this day, I founded Cyprus Freethinkers, a foundation that was aimed to help people think critically. Since then I came to slowly realize one absolute truth about the human condition. This is rather a personal story so take everything with a grain of salt. The point is the message.
At the beginning the nature of the Cyprus Freethinkers (CFT) was aimed to tackle the vices of religion and nationalism since that was the strongest element that seemed to hold the status-quo of my country together. Science was hold as a dear weapon against the two. I shifted the nature of CFT towards that spectrum myself and even appointed some people to help me administer the massive amounts of debates that were generated. I was open to suggestions and recommendations for getting CFT formally organized. This proved to be the biggest mistake, but it was a very rewarding one.
Slowly, it became apparent that religion and nationalism were not the main problem. Instead, It was one simple notion. Groupism. When I realized this, I tried to emphasize the philosophy of individuality, anarchy, liberty and capitalism but even those whom I appointed, seemed to be enjoying the groupie-activism nature that CFT was shaping into. I had no idea that 5 out of 7 admins were coming from the ranks of the country's political left. Slowly they were becoming the exact thing they were fighting.
Due to the nature and history of marxist philosophy, they took neo-atheism way too seriously, and tried to shift the entire nature of the group towards that spectrum, calling it "humanitarianism" (as if everybody else were inhumane). They found some excuses about the nature of "hate speech", formed a coup and tried to take over CFT while I was abroad. They declared that they wanted to form a council with hierarchies, the very thing that we agreed will never happen. A couple of members saw it as an opportunity to awaken a career out of it and thus borrowed the idea of atheism, threw themselves in front of the TV and started playing smart asses in front of old ladies that had one foot inside the grave.
It was my mistake since before I left, I pressured two of them to take my place for the TV appearance. I was not able to make it due to my studies abroad. Instead of atheism being discussed as an anthropological concept, like I advised them, they choose to preach it as an end to itself, while the narrative of "humanism" and cultural marxism were being attached next to it. Surprise, surprise. CFT became the very thing it was supposed to fight. People though were cheering, the numbers of CFT were soaring — much like they were cheering me at the first couple of years. The reason was simple. Most people didn't have the balls to stand for themselves in a country that was heavily religious and nationalistic. [ FYI, I never respected anyone who was cheering for me and rest assured neither is anyone else. The only difference is that they will never tell you.]
I couldn't do much other than slowly get back the group from them and let them go their own way. Perhaps if I was more manipulative and diplomatic I could make a political career out of it as well but that was not never my intention. I am way too blunt for my own good sometimes and I rather prefer to stay this way. I believe that individualism is the first and foremost quality a human should have. I also acknowledge that most people, a solid 90% based on my experience, do not want to take responsibility, do not want to be individuals and rather want to blend in and sway their way through the masses. Fortunes and careers are mainly build on mass stupidity, superficial connections and luck.
I understood that CFT would never gain massive numbers solely relying on the individualist philosophy and that was a good thing. Instead it would gather few people that prefer to stand alone, form opinions and then leave if they saw that there was nothing else to gain. I am pretty happy the course it has taken so far. It has demonstrated that neither religion nor nationalism are the main problems of this world. They never were. The most important hurdle a human is called to overcome is to be able to stand alone, avoiding temptations of "leadership", "fame", "satisfying the masses". All these create the very spine of religion and nationalism. Think about it. A group forms so they can go against another group. A leader is needed to guide a group of people. These notions are obsolete when people stand as individuals.
For those who have been around CFT for while, look back and remember where some "celebrities" of today started, what they took advantage and how the very things they were against turned out to be their greater weapons for their careers. I am not sure yet if honesty, individualism and tough love are the way to go in life even if I chose to honor these qualities myself. If you want to be rich, successful and famous then blend in, lie, manipulate and use the masses in a way they will never understand. It is pretty easy to do if you ask me. Politicians, actors, promoters of "all things nice" and other influencers are doing this everyday and obtain thousands of followers and friends. You rather have to if you want to make it big.
Remember, the more people you have following you the more you have to dilute yourself to satisfy every single one. The more you dilute and over-generalize ,the more you become yet another religion, a dogma that appeals to numbers. Your followers become your fuel and you start treating them like assets so they can maintain your fame.
It all comes down to who one chooses to be. It always reminds the scene from the Matrix, where Cypher chooses to live the dream, munching the juicy stake, instead of going through the harshness of reality. Maybe freethought requires a bit of masochism since groupism does create safe illusions as history has demonstrated plenty of times. Maybe those of us who have chosen that path are comfortable being alone, keeping it real even if it is hard, instead of being nourished by the masses. If anything, take this with you: Trouble begins when people start agreeing with you, not the other way around.