Mob Rule

This is another short musing.

It may seem odd, but I usually reflect on mob rule during this time of year. It’s something that has struck me as a curiously consistent aspect of all cultures over time, but especially poignant as we all track the trajectory of our common humanity.

It predates the rise of social media, too. There’s no need to worry that I’m going to go off on a rant about that. Besides, a lot of people rant about that all the time and everyone just accepts that it’s never going to change.

Mob rule comes into focus for me during this time of year because the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ comes into heavy focus for Christians. To assuage casual or accidental viewers, you don’t need to worry that I’m here to proselytize or convert with this entry. I’m focusing on an aspect of the account that stands out apart from the religious aspect.

If you’re not familiar, Jesus was welcomed into the city and hailed as a hero. About a week later He was given a show trial, beaten, and then killed. People had cheered and adored him.

Then they pivoted and called death within days. Someone who’d been hailed and cheered, killed in part thanks to a manipulated opinion designed to steer the crowd toward that end.

The play Les Miserables is full of romanticized lies about the revolutionaries, overlooking the fact that they turned into bloodthirsty animals.
Even if you don’t like the allusion to the inherently religious tale of Christ, the French Revolution is chock full of good examples of when the crowd turned from righteous to terrible.

Don’t Be a Tool

I’m reminded of the old saying, “A person is smart; People are dumb.” Mob rule is a fearsome thing because fervor turns too quickly to blood lust.

Even if you remove the religious significance of the story of Jesus, it’s a powerful reminder of this lesson. Sadly, it’s a lesson that people seem to keep forgetting. As they rush to jump on a hashtag wave, fall all over themselves for hot takes during world events, or call for a person’s ouster for the temerity to disagree on an issue, people allow themselves to pursue only their own exercise authority through the power of the crowd. They rarely stop to question the motivations of those who move it.

The crowd has always been fickle. The crowd will always be fickle. When the crowd wants blood, it will get it.

We’ve all been swept up in the powerful wave of popular sentiment. It’s easy, it feels good in the moment, and only in the aftermath do you realize that a little rational, individual thought would go a long way. Mercy would often go even farther.

May we all remember the dangers of being a part of the crowd.