Mob Mentality

There is a phenomenon in which people who normally know and adhere to their values change when in the company of an emotionally charged group. Over the past millennia, I’ve seen it far too often. Call it “peer pressure”, “groupthink”, or “mob mentality”, it doesn’t matter.

Since most people in your time are not scholars of history, I won’t use an obscure example, but one with which most of you are familiar. Nevertheless, the same interaction has recurred time after time–the living do not learn, so it is up to those of us who are gone to explain.

In an ancient land with no BBC, no cable, no wi-fi, a man approaches a village. A murmur passes through the crowd. “This is the ONE that we’ve been waiting for! He is the one!”

The people run together and a crowd forms and welcomes him. “Hail to our hope! Hail to our future! Hail to military victory!”

But it is not Alexander, or Caesar, Hitler, or Stalin. It is an itinerant teacher who has asked for nothing; who has accepted only a place to sleep and a shared meal.

As he approaches, the people line the streets.

“You are what we’ve prayed for! You are the best–Holy, Holy, Holy (holiest, the third order of holy). We wave palms over your head! We lay our cloaks for you to walk over. You are THE one.”

A few days later, in the middle of the night, a kangaroo court is held to condemn the same man to death. The mob, this time, cries “Crucify him.”

Was it the same people?

Think.

 

 

Fact and Fiction

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams

If something is a reasonably accurate representation of reality, it is a fact. As humans, we’re incapable of observing, remembering, and then stating any event with 100 percent accuracy, even though most people try.

However, if you tell a lie, that’s what it is.

If you repeatedly tell a lie, it remains a lie.

If you get a million people to repeat your lie, it still remains a lie. It does not become a fact.

You may be able to kiss a frog and have it become a prince, but a lie is a lie is a lie.

It’s not a difficult concept, so why do so many people find it impossible to understand?

Politics Explained

I swear, I never get any peace and quiet. It had been a long day, walking through town with my lamp lit, telling anyone foolish enough to ask why that, “I’m searching for an honest man.” What a load of rubbish–but they continue to buy it.

Eventually, I made my way home to my sewer, crawled in, tuned out the cockroaches and rats, and closed my eyes. Immediately, some ignoramus (assuming that he was in fact, ignorant, rather than stupid) shook me and demanded an answer to his question.

“What is politics?” he asked.

I stared at him with the best malevolent look I could muster. He was undeterred. When I realized that my scowl would not get rid of him, I figured that the next best way was to give him some cryptic answer. Perhaps then he’d leave.

“Do you believe politics is more like chess or poker?” I asked him. He stammered and admitted that he did not know.

“It’s like both,” I told him. “It’s a long range game, but a long range game in which bluffing and cheating are not only allowed, but encouraged.”

He looked more puzzled as he walked away than he had when he had approached.

He’ll never understand politics.

I understand politics, so I went back to sleep.

LATEST FAKE GNUS!!!!

In a surprise move today, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling with wide-reaching impact on the future selection of America’s leaders.

A number of issues have challenged the judicial system all the way to the nation’s highest court. These have included the ongoing allegation of voter fraud, disenfranchisement of minority groups, and Gerrymandering–all to ensure the continual reelection of incumbents.

The role of the Electoral College raises concerns, especially when the winner of the popular vote is repeatedly not the candidate who is elected. There are the credible—and frequent—charges that foreign governments interfere with US elections.

The Court ruled that selection for high office—cabinet members, ambassadors, the President and the Vice President—will from this point on be determined by polls, rather than elections. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., stated that it was his pleasure to present the courts judgement with a ruling and an opinion that were both unanimous, with no hint of dissent.

Our decision is based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We have determined that equal protection under the law is impossible when each of the individual states determines voting processes and procedures independently, delegating some of said authority to subordinate organizations, including counties, parishes, and political parties.

We anticipate that intelligent citizens have questions, which we will attempt to answer:

“Should this matter not be resolved by Congress?” The US Congress has shown the inability to address legal issues more complex than renaming post offices. Its failure to act in any meaningful manner since 1941 has demonstrated the de facto and ultimately the du jour abdication of Congressional authority. Given that members of Congress exercise neither authority nor accept responsibility, they will continue to be elected.

“What about the President? Doesn’t he have a voice?” The court acknowledges that the President does indeed have a voice, as well as a Twitter account, a Press Secretary, a Communications Director, and Fox News.

 “Then why not let the President address this issue by Executive Order?” Based on previous Executive Orders exceeding Constitutional authority, the Court deemed that this was inappropriate.

 “What about the Vice-President?” The powers of the Vice President cannot exceed those of a sitting President.

“Then why does the Judiciary have the authority to make this ruling?” The precedent has been well established that the other branches of government routinely defer decisions, particularly difficult decisions, to the Judiciary. The Court is merely adhering to said precedent.

Corruption

Over the millennia, I’ve seen kingdoms and nations rise and fall. Some nations are created by Divine edict, by military conquest, by discovery, or even the will of the people. However, most tend to die by the same method.

They rot from within.

The wars you’ve seen recently–Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam–were all failed or failing states. They either were already corrupt, or ripe for corruption. That’s not only how nations fall, it’s why nations fall.

Through corrupt means, the elites enrich themselves at the expense of the general populace. As the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, the people become divided. The division may be political, religious, or philosophical, but most often it’s economic. The wider the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population, the more likely it will devolve into destruction.

Hitler came to power because the German people were economically desperate due to reparations from the First World War. Hitler was an outsider–a non-elite–who was viewed as a possible savior. Lenin was also an outsider viewed as the solution to Russia’s problems. The Nazis and the Communists each set conditions for a division within their country.

Who will be next? There are a number of likely candidates. What’s your guess?

 

Us, Them, and Me

“I” am powerful. “We” are dangerous.

If someone has an agenda, such as a politician or an actor, the worst way to build a following would be to sit  down, one-on-one with another individual and lay out the idea in a logical format. Why? The listener would examine the proposal, critically evaluate its merits and reach a logical conclusion as to its intellectual merit.

On the other hand, if the proponent presents the idea to a group–the larger the better–inevitably there will be some who agree with it. When these people express their support through cheers or chants, more will pick up the emotion and join in. Eventually, few will be silent.

Unfortunately, one of the easiest emotions to stir up in people is irrational hate.

The same people who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, turned up at his illegal overnight kangaroo court with cries of “Crucify Him!”

In America, there has often been the idea, spoken loudly, that, “The only good [Insert group here] is a dead [and here].”

My advice to you is “Never let go of yourself. The individual is better equipped to make decisions than any group.”

In George Orwell’s novel 1984 he spoke of “groupthink,” in which all, or at least most, of the members of a group accept an idea because the group does, not because they have made a conscious and deliberate decision that it is what they believe. There is another term for this–mob mentality.

Perhaps the idea is best expressed in the movie Men in Black: 

Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.