Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Vindictiveness and Crowd Mentality

As the days continue in the DC area since last week's acquittal, the intensity of the verbal abuse seems to increase exponentially. And with the abuse, it seems that rational people are being swept into the maelstrom.

I read an opinion piece yesterday by someone who is being victimized by the abuse. He wrote about the abuse from a different perspective, which sent me scurrying back into my memory for similarities that I remember from history. 

James Comey, former Director of the FBI was the author, but it was not so much about the abuse that he personally is experiencing, but rather the reaction of rational, Christian-professing people to the abusive vitriol. I know many will argue about Comey and what he did--that in not the point here. In, James Comey: As usual, Trump called me a sleaze. But the audience reaction to his rant was more upsetting, he writes:

The important thing was what happened in the audience, where there were plenty of intelligent people of deep commitment to religious principle. They laughed and smiled and clapped as a president of the United States lied, bullied, cursed and belittled the faith of other leaders. That was the deeply disturbing part of the East Room moment, and should challenge us all.

How it is possible that they didn’t get up and walk out — that they seemed to participate actively in something they should know was deeply wrong? How could they smile and laugh? Because they are people. And, like all people, they too easily surrender their individual moral authority to a group, where it can be hijacked by the loudest, harshest voice. I know because I’ve done it.

from Wikipedia
I was reminded of a confession written by Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoeller, which is quoted in part in the National Holocaust Museum:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Where are we headed? 

"Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

Where are we headed as a people, a society, as a country? I think we need to take a self assessment and pledge ourselves to show civility towards others and resist the temptation to become one of the crowd.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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