Fleeing the Mob

Read Mark 15:1-20

“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:19 NLT)

TheMobScenePerhaps you have seen the old Universal film, “Frankenstein”, starring Boris Karloff. If so, you will certainly remember the scene of the townspeople forming a mob  and chasing after the monster accidentally killed the little girl while playing with her on the dock. The girl had stumbled upon the monster, well, the monster actually stumbled upon her. All the same, the girl was trying to teach the monster a game of throwing flowers into the water of a pond.

She threw one and it floated. The monster imitated and his floated too; however, when all of the flowers were floating in the water and there were none left to throw, the monster decided to try the same thing with the little girl. It was, in all honesty, an innocent mistake. Unfortunately, the little girl could not swim and ended up drowning. Add that to the fact that this creature, this “monster”, was pieced together with the body parts of dead corpses by a crazed and mad scientist, and the people in the girl’s village were riddled with fear and rage.

Of course, fear and rage make for a deadly combination and, so, an angry and vengeful mob was the result. For those who remember this film, you will remember that this mob chased after the monster and trapped him in a windmill. In their rage, they torched the windmill and the monster inevitably burned alive after the windmill caved in on him. Following the film’s conclusion, one is seriously left wondering who was truly the monster: the creature, or the neglectful mad scientist and the raging mob.

Another film comes to mind when I think of mob mentality. In the Walt Disney film “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston riles a mob when Belle tries to save her father from being committed in a mental institution. In order to show that her father isn’t crazy in his ramblings about a “beast” living up in the castle, she shows Gaston and the crowd the beast through magic mirror the beast gave to her as a gift.

Using fear to persuade them, Gaston is able to easily persuade the  crowd into believing that this beast is ferocious and will come in the night to steal away their children and sink his sharp fangs into their flesh. Belle tries to counteract Gaston by telling the villagers that the beast is actually friendly and means them no harm; however, they’ve already mobbed together with pitchforks and guns and there was no way that reason was ever going to break through to them.

The mob ignored her completely, locked her up with her father, and ran off into the night to go kill the beast. In the end, they did so to their own detriment and at their own peril. Gaston, himself, ends dead as a result of his fear mongering. Thus, both “Frankenstein” and “Beauty and the Beast” can be seen, among other things, as a sharp and potent warning against mobs and the mob mentality.

We are so prone, as human beings, to run to the mill with what “could happen” that we often throw caution and reason to the wind in order to attack what we fear most. I see this happening right now in this country during this election cycle, and it is most certainly happening in our world as well. The more we are attacked by terrorists, and the more people’s perceptions of our stability and security become cynical and/or negative, the more people use that fear to drum up support for action that may or may not be reasonable, let alone practical or warranted.

The challenge for us is to flee the mob, to stay clear of it, to separate ourselves from the ferver, the fear mongering, the hype, the rhetoric, and the polarization that goes on in our communities and in our worlds. We need to put ourselves in an open space where we have room to take a deep breath, think, pray and allow God to guide us. It’s not that we shouldn’t heed warnings and/or look at all fear-inducing warnings as false or bad. They very well could be true; however, it is how we react to them that makes or breaks us. When we react like the common mob caught up in a rageful ferver, we fail to use our heads, our hearts, and our faith. God is calling us to flee the mob and seek God’s guidance and wisdom out in all that we do.

“The mob is the mother of tyrants.” – Diogones

Lord, help us to not to get caught up in the mob mentality and to seek only your ways and your guidance. Amen.

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