Scientology and the Real Negan

Scientology and the Real Negan

The "Thud" Heard 'Round the World
BY SmrtPhonRtistCF
The Walking Dead premiered it's 7th Season with the most disturbing image ever aired on television. Our hearts were crushed when our favorite character got his head bashed in with a baseball bat by the villain we had awaited seasons for. We don’t know much about Negan’s back story, but we can piece some things together. He is charming, charismatic, good looking, funny… and scary as hell. 

Negan is a monster to say it lightly. We would hope that only someone as frightening as him would be tucked away in this fictitious world. However, if the Zombie Apocalypse ever did break out, there might be a real life Negan out there waiting to bring fiction to reality. And Leah Remini seems to have exposed him or rather we may have discovered Negan’s perfect backstory, the leader of a religious dictatorship. 

In her new show, "Scientology and the Aftermath", Remini interviews former parishioners of the Church of Scientology who have broken free from the confines of it's brainwashing livelihood. Through flashes of bravery, these individuals have begun to tell the real stories of what it's like to be a part of the science fiction-based belief system only to reveal that Scientology is not so much a religion as it is a cult.

The leader of this cult is shown to be Dave Miscavige, who calls himself the Pope of Scientology. As the episodes progress, more and more stories are revealed about Miscavige's violent behavior or his “Neganistic” personality.

I'm not making the claim that Miscavige is a vicious murderer like Negan as I don't have any information on him other than what is presented in the show. I would simply like to make an artistic comparison of two characters, one real and one made up, to showcase the stark similarities that bring about intrigue when it comes to use, authority, and power.

“This personalist norm, in its negative aspect, states that the person is the kind of good which does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use and as the means to an end. In its positive form the personalist norm says that the person is a good toward which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” - Karol Wojtyla

Wojtyla echoes the philosophical words of Rene Descartes and adds the resolution of love in this ideology which has come to be known as the "Personalistic Norm". It is Wojtyla's message that the normal way of treating another human being is a deep refusal to ever desire to use them. Rather, each human life, whether saint or sinner, is deserving of love and should be treated that way.

Both Negan and Miscavige are users. They use people for selfish and malicious reasons. Negan will use people he finds in this new world as slaves to "collect" items for him. He uses women, men, and even “walkers” to do his bidding. Love does not exist in his world, only fear. Miscavige is the same. He uses members of “the Church” as a permanent source of income, forcing each parishioner to pay for "self-help" courses to move up a false ladder of spiritual enlightenment. The average parishioner of Scientology spends a quarter of a million dollars, the average cost of raising a child, on these courses which take up all of their time, studying twelve hours a day. Much like Negan's "parishioners" who spend all their time scavenging for him. Negan and Miscavige use fear to control their Church. Miscavige forces members to “disconnect” from their family and create dependency on the Church... even when these members are as young as age twelve, in some cases. Their ideology is not revolved around love, but rather improving oneself without the results. It is a true Utilitarianism. 

Authority is a powerful tool towards motivating human beings. Human life is fragile and it yearns for authority and order. Watch Tony Robbins’ film “Im Not Your Guru” and you will see how easy human beings give in to someone who acts as an authority figure over their life. We have to be careful who we give authority of our lives to, else we lose our identity. It is a huge responsibility for those who have authority over someone, namely a president, a boss, or religious leaders of a church. One must echo Wojtyla’s “Personalistic Norm” again and refuse the urge to use a person who has given you that authority. 

Negan is not like this. He takes authority through force. If you do not follow his rules then you suffer greatly. Sometimes the suffering inflicted on the victim is through torture or through the death of their friends and family. He knows the surest way of keeping his authority over his people is to threaten the ones they love most (Hence, the opening death in Season 7). Look at the character of Dwight this season. He does Negan’s bidding because Negan has taken authority of his wife. Any misstep on Dwight’s part would cause Negan to rape or murder her, thus keeping him "loyal" to the cause.

Miscavige abuses his authority as well. Like Negan, he threatens the lives of loved ones to try and keep people in line. When someone questions the Church or leaves the Church he convinces the other members of their family who are still active to “disconnect” from them. In her series, Remini has showed us at least a dozen examplesof families being forced to disconnect. The emotional turmoil that ensues because of this is too much to bear. Some families try to become active in the Church again just so they can see their children or parents. Children have written heartbreaking rejection letters to their parents who have broken away from the Church. Miscavige knows how to control the masses of his Cult, by cutting their ties to the most fundamental human grounding: family life.  

When Negan takes Daryl hostage and brings him back to Alexandria, he prevents Rick from even looking at Daryl. He breaks the familial bond and won't allow Rick to ask questions. Rick becomes afraid to question his new lifestyle. A person who questions will always be a threat in the eyes of the user. As Remini points out, Scientology does not allow for questions. You are deemed an enemy of the Church if you start to question it’s motives, teachings, and beliefs. The veil of authority that Scientology holds over it’s parishioners begins to shed once questions begin festering in the hearts of the parishioners. That’s why Leah Remini broke away. She asked one simple question that was deemed “none of her business” and she knew. She had to reclaim her power of self. 

Power and Authority go hand in hand, but Power, which is forced upon someone, can be taken away whereas Authority is freely given. Negan is powerful because he is charming, charismatic, and humorous in his own way. He develops the guidelines by which his group must abide, therefore earning authority over his group. Miscavige, too, is charming and motivating. He is a self-esteem builder. He has been credited with building up and inspiring two of Hollywood's most reputable actors, Tom Cruise and John Travolta. He has the power to make new laws, create "new-found" courses, and ideologies within the Church that no one can question. 

What both of these characters choose to do with their power is to influence the masses by convincing them that their work has a deeper purpose and meaning. When Negan shows Carl his home base, he walks up to the rafter’s and looks down below at his followers. All of them slowly begin to kneel. Negan looks at Carl and says, “See, that’s power.” By naming his community "The Saviors", Negan  gets his  people to murder, steal, and bully other groups by telling them that the Saviors keep the world safe from the dead and the living, but as long as the other surviving humans play by his rules. The Saviors believe this because of Negan’s complete sense of confidence. His conviction that his evil choices are for a greater good makes others forget the hell that they are actually living in with the dead roaming the earth. The Saviors believe that the acts they are doing are nothing more than protection from the evil around them. So, when Negan asks them to use brainwashing torture techniques by confining Daryl to a cell, playing the same song every time he is fed, and giving him false hope in order to break his spirit, the Saviors go for it. Negan won’t stop until he clears, a term used in the show meaning to rid the world of walkers, and have everyone working for him. 

Miscavige uses the Sea Org, a naval based group started by L. Ron Hubbard, to act much like the Saviors. He convinces them that they are helping the planet. He puts on annual conferences with false statistics about how many people have been saved from poverty and drug addictions through their efforts. He has them confine members to cells if they feel someone is questioning the Church. He puts them through rigorous mental anguish for months in order to break their spirit through what they call the “auditing” process and even makes them pay for it. He has assaulted many of his leading staff, including Mike Rinder, by choking him with his tie and then convinced Mike to state that Miscavige did not assault him to reporter John Sweeney from BBC. As Remini puts it, “Scientology has you believe that not only are you fixing yourself, but you are helping mankind.” Miscavige won’t stop until he clears, a term used in Scientology meaning to rid the world of evil, and have all worshipping him. So much of this reeks of Negan.

As much as we would like to turn an eye to this documentary series, we have a human obligation to expose this and stir up conversations. Negan loses his power when everyone begins to think for themselves, question their own purpose, and face the rouse of fear. I believe now is the time to do the same for Scientology. Let’s support Leah Remini and stand behind her in solidarity shouting the words of Wojtyla that “No person can be used as an object and the only adequate response is love.” 

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