Defining what a cult is, is difficult. Similarly, in science, there is no established definition for what a weed is; at least I have found none. There is no clear-cut way to separate and define a weed from other non-weed plant life by logical methods. The best definition I ever heard as to defining a weed, is simply a plant that you do not like. Likewise, a 'Cult'can just as easily be a religion or any group that we do not like. One person's cult is another person's most lofty and holy way to worship and serve God or society.
Cults, nevertheless, like weeds, are recognized instinctively by most of the people. They just know one when they see one. Weeds and cults grow where not cultivated by normal people. Weeds and cults kill off other plants we like. Weeds are usually ugly and Cults have unpleasant features. Weeds often have prickles that sting. Cults often have rules and behavior that is harmful. Farmers can tell you
all about broad leaf weeds that harm their crops that eventually become our food. Homeowners can tell you all about dandelions that ruin otherwise beautiful Kentucky Bluegrass lawns. Ex-cult members can often talk at length about ruined lives.
In America, a 'Cult' is usually understood to be an abusive environment where the leaders teach weird and often harmful doctrines; and where the minds of the believers are controlled. In some countries a 'Cult' is any group the government does not like, and the government may elect to take repressive measures.
My best definition of a cult is: "Any situation, be it government, religion, business, social clubs, organized crime, dictatorships, etc., where power and authority is concentrated and centralized in a few or maybe just one person. The power they wield is all-controlling, and often corrupts the leaders into believing that they have some claim, be it education, experience, superior mentality, or divine right to rule over those who follow them or those who are forced to live under their system. Cults lack the presence of an appropriate system of checka and balances to protect the many from corruption and abuse."
Cults can be large or small, somewhat benign, or dangerously harmful. BUT ... Whatever level of packaging or presentation, or aspect of society a cult operates in, one thing that seems common to all: They lean toward dilution and diminishment of the individual in favor of extolling and promoting the organization or leader(s). One who submits or succumbs to a cult often mortgages his/her conscience and individuality to a group or system in a way that goes beyond normal social behavior or reasonable societal cooperation.
In my way of thinking, the best safeguard against ever again being involved in anything that resembles a 'Cult' is to cherish and promote our own individuality and uniqueness. Never surrender one inch of my mental freedom, my self-identification, my personality, my control and power over my own life. Die for it, if necessary.
I cannot speak for anyone else, nor should I. Each person has their own way and individual method of dealing and coping with what life brings into their path. I have chosen with clear, willful and deliberate reasoning to value individuality and personal power, control, and responsibility over the 'It Takes a Village' mentality.
I believe in some level of social interaction and rules, but only as a modest vehicle and as an mutually agreed contract amongst people who have common interests, such as a city, a state, a nation, a business, and even a religion. The only way I see that this 'social contract' can be safely operated is through a system of checks and balances, of which, the Watch Tower Society has none. - AMAZING