We are a people driven by movements. Whether we are looking for a feeling of belonging, pursuing a greater meaning in life, or merely looking for an entertaining pastime, we are often drawn to movements. Over the past two weeks I have noticed the refrain of “joining a movement” and “starting a movement” in every sphere of life, from the church, to politics, to charities, to advertisements for products.
Movements can bring change for the better. The movements for civil rights and for women’s suffrage, and many others have made our world a better place.
In very few other realms of life is this pressure to join the movement as obvious as it is in sports. The chants of the crowd, the euphoria and camaraderie after a win and glum solidarity after a loss. Sports draws us in and makes us feel part of something greater, a movement. While sports are largely innocuous, other movements can become bastions of evil where individuality is lost and acts are justified in the name of the movement. In fiction this was seen in Harry Potter wherein Grindelwald justifies evil with the phrase “for the Greater good.” However this has played over and over throughout history from the holocaust and genocides to unethical business practices and seemingly small lies. At first these begin as small alienations of other people groups, but soon, as the movement becomes the ultimate goal, individuals are asked to sacrifice individuality and identity for a single ideology. Actions which would have been unthinkable as individuals become permissible and even laudable for the good of the movement.
The challenge then is this. To maintain yourself, your identity, while being part of a movement. Individuals must shape movements not movements the individuals. Then and only then will movements be for the good of people not people for the good of the movements.
The conclusion is this. Movements are powerful, useful, and alluring. Therefore, one must note the critical nature of maintaining one’s identity even within the larger movement. When all is said and done and we give an account of who we are and what we have done, it will not be as a movement, but as an individual. The movement is penultimate, the individual is ultimate.