Can Any Good Come Out of a Mob?

Mob /mŏb/ n. – a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence.

Have you ever been in a mob?  Or at least in a large crowd of people at an event, maybe a sporting event or a festival or some sort of celebration where there are bunches of people that you don’t know?  I’ll bet everyone has.  Sometimes these groups are exciting and fun to be a part of.  There is energy and a sense of community.  This sense of community come from having a shared purpose or goal and can provide confidence, assurance and a kind of congregate power.

Large groups can, when united, come together and accomplish a great deal.  Generally speaking, there must be organization to the group and a plan to operate.  Large groups can, also when united, cause great destruction. Then they are generally known as mobs.  Mob mentality is not a positive thing at all.

Let me share some of my experiences with groups of people coming together.  As a baby boomer raised in the 50s and 60s, I went to college during the anti-Vietnam War movement.  There was much protesting and marching.  People would rally outside of large auditoriums (where classes were held) and picket, generally stopping and greatly discouraging students from attending classes.

Now, for the most part, I would have to say that back then I considered myself peace-loving, anti-war (after all, who could be said to be for killing?) and I wanted to make an intelligent look into the matter before I jumped in and protested.  I spoke with the people protesting and asked about their reasoning for demonstrations.  They all said pretty much the same thing.  War is evil, wrong and we want it to stop.   So I asked them why our country was in the war in the first place. (I had no understanding of current events myself. I was occupied with more immediate matters of becoming independent from my parents and getting through college.)  I listened to many people on this question of why we were involved in Vietnam and none of them gave me any reasonable answer short of the United States is meddling in another country’s affairs for whatever reason.

I even attended a couple meetings of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a student activist organization which seemed to advocate sit-ins, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience.  When I walked into their organization, it was rag-tag and managed by a couple of young men with very charismatic personalities.  They accepted me, but when I did not enter the premise already a willing supporter, I was pretty much left to my own.  I looked at their placards and posters, picked up some of their literature and had a few discussions which basically were the same old, same old I’d been getting from the other protesters.

No one knew why we were there in Vietnam.  The protesters just didn’t want war. And they were not happy when students like me didn’t want to rally with them.  They didn’t like us continuing to attend classes.   When they protested, they found safety and security in numbers.

I finally elected to not join a group with no distinct analysis for its actions.  As I put myself through college, I concluded the matter wasn’t worth throwing away a semester’s tuition to skip classes to protest.  I found tunnels and back doors and kept on going to classes.  I endured hurled insults and taunts but I went to class anyway. I even survived a tear gas attack on a building where I was in class.

I was not impressed with the people in the protest groups.  They had a mob mentality and had no coherent message or rationality.

Let me tell you about another mob experience I had.  This is a much different scale, contrived, but astonishingly powerful.  My husband and I were choir members in a large church that was putting on a passion play at Easter.   Choir members make good ‘extras’ on stage and soon my husband and I found ourselves becoming townspeople.  One of my roles was to be a part of the crowd when Pontius Pilate addresses the crowd, asking whether Barabbas or Jesus should be freed.  The entire crowd was instructed to yell for Barabbas. Then Pilate asked us, “What should I do with this man, Jesus?”  The entire choir was to yell “crucify him” except for the sopranos who got to yell “Free him.  He’s done nothing wrong!”

Well, I was an alto and so disappointed not to be yelling on behalf of Jesus. I nevertheless got into my role and yelled for Pilate to crucify Jesus.  Naturally, we weren’t loud enough the first time.  We had to practice it.  I stepped up to the role. But what really astonished me was how easily and swiftly I was caught up in the mob’s intensity and urgency in yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  I went home shaking.  And this was just theater, not reality!

Our God is a God of order, rationality and good. First Corinthians 14:33 states: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”  Let us remember this when faced with the rule of a mob.  The Enemy can make good use of a mob.




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