I don’t remember where I heard it first but this is a favorite quote of mine:
If you want to be successful, start a company. If you want to be more successful, start a country. If you want to be the most successful, start a religion.
And indeed the lifespan of our institutions does tend to run that way: the winning religions last longer than the winning countries which last longer than the winning companies.1
And were they alive today, who would have more social capital?
Jesus > George Washington > Steve Jobs
You see this in current life, too:
Religion’s power has waned over the last few decades, especially in Europe, but make no mistake: most active believers would give up their country’s citizenship before giving up their faith.
In a way this makes sense: religion’s job-to-be-done is much bigger than a country’s. A country cannot tell you what happens after death, just as a company can’t put the local thief in prison.
There are exceptions to everything of course, but broadly that seems to be how it plays out.↩