The Mob Rules

“Emphasizing the crowd means de-emphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad, mob-like behaviors.”  -Jaron Lanier “You are not a gadget.”

The gathering of individuals to express their opinions is the very foundation this great country was built upon. People are different in plethora of ways. Another tragic event has taken place in America, and we find ourselves in a situation that mirrors the late 1960’s. Growing up racial tensions were palpable. I went to school during the heart of school integration. Fast forward 60 years and I think Larry Norman’s lyrics are still fitting, “Sometimes I think that we’ve advanced but then I look at where we are.” For anyone living in America, we have a race problem, and I believe it has been with us for centuries. Yes, we have made great strides to ease the pain of racial tension but simmering under the surface are real problems.

The case in point is the blatant disregard for human life that was shown by a Minneapolis police man. I have yet to see a universal condemnation of an action garnered as quickly as this event. The momentum to get things done, the sympathy that was felt by all human beings was encouraging. Then, the riots broke out. The waters of this horrible event got muddied. This was a real time to have people understand the underlying problem between racial groups in this country. It is unfortunate that all the attention was swithched to watching people burn innocent citizens buildings, people showing total contempt for property and safety of life. Like Ferguson, this became a story of anger towards the wrong people. The attention should have been placed peacefully on the shoulders of the law enforcement agencies that allowed such a hideous crime to take place. Instead, we now have the National Guard patroling the streets and essentially applying a small form of martial law.

If you are unable to succinctly tell your story without violence, bigotry and civil disturbance then you do not fully understand the problem yourself. Martin Luther King Jr. took a page of history from Mahatma Gandhi and figuratively brought a country to its knees without violence. Were both these men unduly persecuted for the right thing? That is unarguable. Was there a humiliating price to pay for keeping the subject clear? Again, this is without doubt. Yet, through these peaceful demonstrations something magical happened; the cause garnered sympathy from unlikely places. Gandhi once was quoted saying “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.” So I ask the question, “Does the mob rule”. It is for surety mob demonstrations like the one we viewed in Minneapolis this week will get its quick, comprehensive coverage for a short while, then most likely return to business as usual, which would be the ultimate tragedy. The homosexual community has made great strides in shifting the inequality of gay men and women to legislation that always made sense but more importantly, they built a coalition of people that want to see equality for all.

I am afraid we have learned nothing from the Watts riots, Ferguson and now Minneapolis. We have in all three cases seen innocent people victimized and the message that should have been clear distorted by violence. I will leave you with a quote from Margaret Mead that I use often when talking about lawful civil demonstrations. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”.

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