Sheep In Hoodies

Posted on April 1, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , |

Is it me, or does it seem like people are behaving more like sheep lately? Whether it’s forwarding Krony 2012 videos or ranting about oil companies, no one seems to be thinking for themselves. This was crystalized for me over the past 10 days as the Internet, Facebook, television, and I’m pretty sure at one point I saw smoke signals that shouted for ‘justice’ for Trayvon Martin. Should I jump on the hoodie bandwagon or is there danger in cloaking myself in the mob mentality?

In chapter 7 of Acts, we get the account of the first Christian martyr (well other than Christ): Stephen. Stephen was going around spreading the news that the messiah had come and challenged the Jewish leaders for being hardheaded for not realizing this precious gift God had given mankind. Naturally, the well-educated carefully selected leaders on the Sanhedrin listened to Stephen’s arguments, weighing the facts and evidence before making their conclusions. Actually, “they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him ” (Acts 7:57-58).

As this illustrates, being included in a ‘mob’ doesn’t automatically qualify you as an illiterate pitch-fork wielding villager.  Mobs may be made up of intelligent and well-meaning people.  Yet despite their composition, mobs almost always act out of emotion. They aren’t acting based on reason and sound-judgment; they are a reflex responding to a circumstance that pierces our hearts.

Many times people think of a mob as just responding in the ‘heat of the moment,’ but this irrational behavior can go on for years without someone pausing to question the merit of a mob’s cause. The French Revolution, genocides in any time period, and the overuse of neon colors throughout the 90’s all illustrate that people fueled by emotion, emboldened by a group can have dangerous consequences that last for years.

So, what’s the solution to sheepeople (not a typo)? Naturally, a shepherd (i.e., a leader):

Everyone remembers the story of the little shepherd boy, David, who killed Goliath with a sling, which by the way, is a much more effective weapon than the wimpy slingshot. But David grew to become a man loved by the Hebrew people, so much so that they eventually made him their king. But not everyone liked him, particularly Saul, the cowardly first king of Israel. Saul was very jealous of David’s successes in battle and resulting popularity. Saul was so obsessed with David’s fame that he tried to have him killed. As a result, David went into exile along with few hundred men who supported him. On multiple occasions, David and his armies had the chance to slay the weak and unpopular king. But David never gave into mob pressure to oust Saul. Instead, he respected that God had appointed Saul and used his influence to spare Saul’s life from those who wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 18-26).

Is it leadership that calms the angry mob? Not quite – after all, no one can argue Robespierre and Pol Pot were calming influences in their respective spheres. Returning to Stephen’s story, we see another Saul who illustrates that leadership can also enflame the passions of a mob. This Saul used Stephen’s death as a launching pad for persecuting Christians throughout Jerusalem (Acts 7:58-8:3). Thankfully later he was blinded by the light, became revved up like a deuce and the leading Christian runner in the night – he became Paul (if you didn’t catch that reference you need musical help). But at the time, he used his leadership to sway Jewish mobs to commit evil.

How are our leaders doing given the current outrage for Trayvon? Well, we’ve got one sporting a hoodie in Congress defending ‘cries of the American people for justice.’ And then there is our President who has now weighed in. It’s not so much what the President said that alarms me, but what he didn’t say. Here is the man who is the leader of our Constitutional republic, not to mention the chief law enforcement officer, implying that there is something afoul.

I’m not saying that George Zimmerman is innocent, but perhaps as a nation that claims to uphold rule of law rather than mob-rule and that prides itself in trying men through due process rather than in the court of public opinion, we should let a jury of Zimmerman’s peers decide his innocence or guilt. Unfortunately, due to the media and mob that has based its opinion on sound bytes and emotions rather than facts, he’s unlikely to find one that isn’t already biased.


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