That last group is not necessarily logically-challenged so much as they’re inclined to rank logic low on their list of priorities. That is, with a fair amount of certainty, very, very few people said to themselves, “A policeman driving down the road in Ferguson, MO saw a black man. Because he was racist, he dragged the pedestrian into the cop car and engaged him in a lethal fight. This proves that all cops are racist pigs, so I must travel to Ferguson to break windows and loot a meat market.”
People also flock like herds to Mountain Moral Monday. Three or four might carry a sign demanding tax-subsidized abortion. Another handful might want gay marriage. About twenty might want to raise taxes to pay teachers more. Several want to legalize pot, and many more want to demonize Art Pope and the Koch brothers. Although it looks like a hodge-podge out to enjoy a sunny summer day, there is an underlying theme – and the theme is love.
“Outrage!” you cry. But consider the homeless dude with the guitar and the dog. He gets two points for chick appeal. Like many others, he’s screaming out to belong. While the logical Mr. Spock might ask why the man doesn’t take a bath and get a job to provide for his chick and their future children, guitar dude is living in the moment, seeking connection for the here and now. Likewise, those at MoMoMo didn’t ask who was going to pay for their requests or what kind of financial harm would be wrought on entrepreneurs who could pay more taxes to pay the teachers. Nay, the protesters wanted to bond and share the energy.
Sadly, almost without exception, those who use the word “energy” know not whereof they speak. In this instance, people seem enrapt by the frenzy of hype. Some, of course, are just enjoying the sunshine and digging the scene. Others, however, seem drawn like bugs to the searchlight displays of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda. Reportedly, Hitler’s favorite book was the stomach-churning Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay. Relating mass atrocities perpetrated by herd mentality down through history, the author wrote, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” There is an old CIA story about revved-up rioters turning on a dime from pro to con when their demonstration was infiltrated by operatives.
But back to the seekers, those who know they’re incomplete, but find fulfillment not through faddish crowds but with the inner light they receive from their God in quiet meditation – they don’t make news. They’re just trying to pay the bills and put the kids through college. In quiet moments, they’ll ask, “Why?” and sometimes receive answers. Their path is rewarding, but difficult. The Bible says “straight is the way,” and so there are infinitely many alternative routes through life. Among the detours and wild goose chases are the trajectories of those who feel ordained to knock down the “true believers,” or at least those who are trying their best to be true to their personal beliefs in spite of fashion and peer-pressure.
Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer spoke of the perils of the true believers in the holocaust. He argued that some left the Jewish faith to avoid pain or to save face. Some were more pragmatic, leaving in order to keep their jobs to feed their children. Still others left being unable to understand how their God would subject them to such cruel horrors. The true believers trusted their God, took their torture, and graduated. We trust they now enjoy pleasant, peaceful evenings with the Christian martyrs, from Jesus’ apostles, to those tortured gruesomely by the Romans, to the Protestants put on the torture devices of the Inquisition, to the innocents in the wars and rumors of war now coming out of Iraq. The apostle Timothy declared, “All that shall live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
And so, as life goes on, expect misperceptions to be misunderstood and reported with insufficient data, oversimplification, and distortion. Due to the same thing coming from other angles, sprinkled with a little fallacy, some group will be framed as the bad guy, and all they do or don’t do will feed into the narrative. TV talking heads will show in all seriousness how people are getting riled over the children and the other minorities. Emotions will fly. People will be frenzied and scream about stuff they can’t know about. But one boy might remain calm, remember, “I’m more than that,” and say the emperor has no clothes.
If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.