“There is nothing more foolish, nothing more given to outrage than a useless mob.” – Herodotus
“There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.” – Ayn Rand (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)
Saint Mary’s University of Halifax has been making news as more than 80 student leaders are scheduled to undergo sensitivity training following a pro-rape chant that occurred during ‘frosh week.’ Here is a short news-clip of the story:
According to an article from CTV (Canada’s largest private broadcaster),
The president of the Saint Mary’s Students Association says allowing a chant about sexual assault to be performed at a frosh event is the “biggest mistake” he’s ever made.
. . .
He added that the same chant has been part of frosh events since at least 2009 when he was a frosh, with the lyrics being passed down on paper to orientation leaders.
However, he couldn’t explain why no one had raised concerns about it previously.
According to another article, the same student said,
“A lot of them showed a ton of remorse for their actions,” Perry said. “Many of them ended up crying, speechless, jaw drops, and they’re very disappointed by their actions. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize until after the fact.”
Psychologists have tried to explain this phenomena with terms like “group mind” or “mob mentality” since the 1800s. My least favorite term is “herd mentality” which more than insinuates an animalistic and evolutionary debasement of man. Nevertheless, there still exists in all of us a tendency to go with the flow. Some guys make rebellion look easy, but I would bet cash that even this vagrant struggles with conformist desires from time to time…
Few men possess the conviction and fortitude to stand their ground and push against a mounting wall of social adversity. One of those guys was the Apostle Paul. He had his fair share of fears when it came to the mob (Acts 18:9, 27:24), but he also possessed a self-abandoned sense of boldness that makes the most self-righteous punk kid’s credibility look like a Mickey Mouse Club beach party. Acts 14:19-20 says,
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. (NASB)
How awesome is that? Paul is wrapping up his first missionary journey before retracing his steps on the way home. He heals a man in Lystra where the masses mistakenly think he and Barnabas are Hermes and Zeus. A few bad apples make it into the barrel. The crowd suddenly turns into a mob, stones Paul, and leaves him for dead. But how does he react? He gets up and walks back into the city.
Ultimately, Paul was more afraid of God than he was of men. He had seen the glorified Christ on the road to Damascus and joined the Apostles as “one untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15:8). No throng could overcome this man’s resolve. The root of his faith ran deep; deeper than the threat of death. His desire to share the Gospel with the perishing populous was stronger than his desire to win their affections. Certainly, his love for the Truth was greater than the stony attacks of a mental mob… whose members would likely cry in speechless shock… given the opportunity to see themselves on national TV.