My wife’s sister got married yesterday.
It wasn’t your ordinary wedding.
See, she’s orthodox Jewish, kind of like the crowd you see in Brooklyn.
So yesterday evening I found myself in a big dance hall, separated from my wife (men and women sit and dance in separate areas in these types of weddings), with a bunch of enthusiastic young men dancing in circles to extremely high volume songs in Yiddish.
Now, as with pretty much any situation I run into, I started thinking –
How’s this possible?
Why do people give up a lot of life’s little perks you and I take for granted and voluntarily join such a strictly religious organization?
(Umm… I guess you could say that about marriage too don’t you think?)
So what’s the main persuasion mechanism behind a religion that makes it so effective that it basically it overrides man’s basic desires of lust and greed?!
Side note – you have to understand that in Israel religion is a very organized institution.
It’s not a let’s-see-how-it’s-like kind of thing.
It’s like a totally different world over there, with laws and customs that we seculars find it hard to comprehend, and when someone enters or leaves that world, it’s usually for good – they leave their past way behind, never to return…
Most of these people are destined to live low-income lifestyles with only promises of spiritual uplifting and a glorious afterlife, whenever that’s gonna happen…
So, anyway – what’s the secret of a 5,000-year-old successful persuasion system?
My conclusion? One word –
That is the main emotional desire behind this whole thing we call religion.
It’s been scientifically proven that there are certain chemical feel-good reactions in the brain when it’s holder is part of a certain group of people.
Since our ancestors crawled out of the ocean we are hardwired to want to be a part of a group – never alone, our power is in our numbers, and our survival depends on it.
And when you think of the whole conversion process from secularity to religion, you find that this process happens in most cases in a time where that person’s going through this transformation is indeed physically alone or simply feels alienated from their surroundings, feeling misunderstood due to a certain experience they’ve gone through.