There are many different movements – political, religious, social, etc. Here’s one definition I found:
“In the social sciences, a political movement is a social group that operates together to obtain a political goal, on a local, regional, national, or international scope. Political movements develop, coordinate, promulgate, revise, amend, interpret, and produce materials that are intended to address the goals of the base of the movement.” (Source)
I would argue that all movements are like this. A religious movement may not have political ends in mind, but they have the core essentials of a movement, just like political movements – a group of people who come together to obtain a goal. They want to change something that exists.
Here’s something I know about movements – movements centered on a person don’t last beyond that person. They can’t. Once the driving force is gone, the movement collapses on itself. Movements based on a leader can’t continue without the leader.
Even Jesus knew this. Through the Gospels we hear Jesus telling his disciples to not tell anyone about him. Instead, it was always a focus on the reign of God, and living out the Good News. That’s not to say that Jesus is absent in the movement of Christianity – far from it. It’s to say that Christianity, as a movement, is more than just about Jesus. Jesus embodies something more than just a personality leading a movement. Or as the Gospel of John puts it – The Word became flesh.
A movement based on ideas, beliefs, and living out those ideas and beliefs has a much better chance of long-term survival and at thriving.
When I read the news, whether it be US news or news from other places, I am often looking at it through the lens of movement. When a movement is all about its leader, I don’t worry about too much. It will die off when the leader disappears due to leaving the leadership position they hold or death. Leader centered movements usually die off in a whimper. Movements that prosper and thrive are ones where the leader recognizes this flaw and does something about it – empowers others to carry the mantle of something bigger than the leader(s). And then the leader willingly steps back to let others lead – in other words, the leader recognizes that a movement isn’t narcissistic – centered on the leader. It’s so much more. Today’s political movements won’t last, mostly because they are centered on politicians. Once those politicians are gone, so are their movements. That’s because they claimed ownership and never turned over ownership to others to move the movement forward.
Can you think of a movement that was centered on a figure rather than ideas and beliefs and living out those ideas and beliefs? I welcome your comments.