image of mob of people protesting

3 Menaces of a Mob Mentality

Everyone seems mad.

Everywhere you look people are mad and they’re taking their anger to the streets.

With signs waving and shouts screaming it feels like someone shook up the mob like a coke can and the violence is spewing out in all directions.

This is not the America of my childhood. Don’t get me wrong, there were just as many socio-political problems when I was growing up. Racism, hatred, and injustice have been around since the dawn of time. The difference is when the mob takes to the street there’s less light and more heat.

Is free speech a bad thing? Are marches a bad thing? Of course not! They are the bedrock of freedom. There is a legitimate time and place for coordinated rallies, protests, and marches.

But, before you run out into the thick of it you should be aware of the dangers of mob mentality when crowds form for protests.

3 Menaces of a Mob Mentality

 

1) IT AMPLIFIES EMOTION

When I was in middle school, we were forced to be part of a ritual known as a pep rally. The whole school would fill the gym. We would shout out cheers in unison screaming the praises of our football team. Letting them know how special they are and how excited we are to cheer them on to victory. I found myself caught up in the aura of the mass hysteria. Jumping up and down. Intoxicated with the energy of the room.

The only problem was I didn’t even like our football team! Heck, half of the players were the very ones who regularly bullied many of my friends. So how in the world did I find myself suddenly sitting in a bleacher shouting out cheers of encouragement? MOB MENTALITY.

You’d be surprised what you might find yourself doing when you’re caught in the crowd. It’s easy to get pulled into the energy of a mob, but a wise person recognizes the dangers of unbridled emotion.

The Bible says,

“…riled emotions turn into fistfights.” (Proverbs 30:33, The Message)

AND

“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” (Proverbs 29:11, GW)

2) IT STUPEFIES RATION

When I was a teenager there were times I would become so angry that I punched a wall…a brick wall. Ouch! Man, I look back at that and one word comes to mind – IDIOT!

It is incredibly irrational to punch a wall or anything else for that matter; unless of course you are being paid to…in a ring…with gloves.

The second problem with a mob mentality is that fevered emotions block rational discussions. As the emotions rise the logic lowers. It is not uncommon to find protesters at a march who aren’t even clear on the issue being protested.

Amid an angry mob brandishing signs, nearly anything sounds right…at first.

The Bible says, “The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.” (Proverbs 18:17, NLT)

Some of the issues people become so worked up over actually turn out to be red herrings. We are a culture that likes being offended more than informed.

We are a culture that likes being offended more than informed. Click To Tweet

Many protesters aren’t even a part of the problem or the solution. They love a good protest! The truth is a lot of them find meaning in being a part of a movement. It gives them identity and community that they aren’t finding elsewhere.

Before you jump into a mob, do some fact-checking. Make sure you’re clear on the truth.

The Bible says, “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (Proverbs 18:13, NLT)

3) IT CRUCIFIES DEVOTION

Perhaps the saddest illustration of how wrong an angry mob can become is found on Good Friday in Pilate’s court. Just a few days earlier the crowd celebrated Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem (we call it Palm Sunday). Yet almost overnight the crowd turned from celebration to vilification.

Pilate asked the mob:

“What should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!”(Matthew 27:22, NLT)

How could a person look into the eyes of love and scream, “Death!”

I think some of them might have told us, “Man, I just got caught up in the moment.”

Thankfully, we know how the story ended.

We know that although hate won on Friday, love won on Sunday!

The crowd shows us the power of the mob.

The crowd shows us the power of the mob. Click To Tweet

The cross shows us the power of the Messiah – one life standing in firm love bringing real peace.

The Bible says:

“Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:16, The Message)

God help us to respond reasonably and love irrationally, not the other way around.

What are your thoughts?

3 Comments
  • Dave Talley
    Posted at 13:03h, 09 June Reply

    Great reminders!

  • James Yamakawa
    Posted at 17:53h, 09 June Reply

    Well… the protestors out there Now… thinking that many of them don’t know what they are protestIng about is making an assumption about why they are out there. Yeah, there are people who just go with the crowd, (study history of lynchings in our area, you would see that there are crowds and there are “crowds”)

    And if the emotion is high right now it may be because it’s been high for a while and now it’s spilling over because no one was listening.

    Those out on the streets, risking life and livelihood to bring a message to the rest of us, are as prophetic as any in scripture. And like Jesus himself spoke of in the Gospel, (Luke 4: 14-30) prophets are never accepted in their hometown.

    The question is are we willing to listen? God calls for us to be out on the streets, or at the very least not trying to silence the message.

    And considering the parallels between the lynching of George Floyd (and countless other Black and Brown children of God) and the lynching of Jesus… well, the words of Rev James Cone continue to speak to me

    “The gospel of Jesus is not a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, but a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to his death on the cross. What is redemptive is the faith that God snatches victory out of defeat, life out of death, and hope out of despair.“

    -James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 11:12h, 10 June Reply

    I think another issue comes from what can actually come of it. The French revolution is kind of a great example. There were a lot of issues, historically verifiable and objective injustices, going on at the time. But unfortunately, a mob happened instead of cooler headed social reform. The mob massacred not only the rich, but anyone who was rumored to be friendly to the rich. Heck, even the guy who started the whole thing got guillotined. The irony is that only a few years later, the monarchy was brought back in. All that violence, death, and destruction, and nothing changed.

    I worry the same thing will happen here.

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