I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I think it all started when my school started performing the play, The Crucible.
For those of you who don't know it, it's about the Salem Witch Trials that took place during Puritan-era America. A group of girls are caught doing things they shouldn't in the woods, and to cover up for their sins, they take advantage of the village's fear of El Diablo by calling out people as witches. And to keep up the charade, they must keep lying about more and more people, with one vengeful little shrew, Abigail Williams. using her power as a way to get to her married crush, John Proctor. And there's this other jerk who uses it to get ahold of people's land, too, and it's all quite maddening.
I've read the play and seen the movie a couple times, so I am quite familiar with the story. And I know it's symbolic of the McCarthy era and all that. But seeing it performed here by people I know kind of drove it home more that this play is still extremely relevant today, with people who jump on bandwagons, whether out of fear or hunger for power.
Two lines that really stuck out to me: One has to do with how we should take Rev. Parris' word for everything. Because if he's an ordained minister, surely he must be a man of God, right? Well, not this time. Turns out he loves having power over the community as well and only tires of the affair when Abigail's treachery finally bites him in the ass late in the play. Sadly, I do see this happening now. Yes, I'm going to call out my own people here and say that Christians are just as guilty, if not more so, than others of groupthink. I hate to keep beating this dead horse, but Christian media is a big part of it. Whenever some studio craps out a lazy movie, we're told to support it because if it's Christian, it must be good! I also see it as it pertains to people or politics. I don't think a lot of people are aware that there are political issues that you can feel differently than all your friends about. Obviously, if you're a Christian, there are some issues that it's impossible to not take sides on, but there are a lot of neutral ones. But a lot of people don't see this because at some point in their lives they start to confuse Christianity with patriotism and say that if you don't agree with them, you're not only a bad citizen, but a bad follower of Christ. Like, really? And I have had occasion where I've questioned the legitimacy of something a church had going on, and someone told me that if it's Catholic, I should believe it! That's not an interpretation or summary of what this person said either, they said exactly that! And it really both saddens and angers me because the old-time Catholics believed that Christians should be free and logical thinkers instead of just blind sheep because we need both faith and reason. Check out some Aquinas or C.S. Lewis if you want something more recent. Their work is fascinating in explaining why they believe what they believe. But the difference between them and the modern mob mentality is that they tell you what has led them to accept these things as true, instead of just following what someone else said. These days, people just go with it and throw out reason, whether out of fear or arrogance, I don't know.
The other quote that stuck in my mind kind of goes back to what I was saying about Christianity vs. Patriotism. They said at one point that if you're a good Christian, you must accept the word of the court as true. No. Just, so much no in this. Following your faith does not always mean following the law. I know the Bible commands us to obey and respect authority and everything, but that doesn't mean we should always accept the law as right and worth obeying without any questioning. I'm a Christian who thinks taxation is theft and socialized healthcare is a horrible, horrible idea. There are actually those who would say I can't claim to follow Jesus and think like that! "But give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, David!" And what belongs to him exactly? And who decides this? Caesar, you say? The one who says I owe the man some of my paycheck is the one who benefits most from it? How convenient. But that's another conversation. Sorry, I'm not hear to talk about my politics today. Just using it as an example.
I also saw the Danish film, The Hunt, recently.
If you're like me and don't mind R-rated movies and don't mind generally feeling like crap, I highly recommend this one. In this, a little girl develops a crush on a kindly daycare worker, and when he warns her about liking him, she gets angry and lets slip a lie that leads everyone to believe the man is a pedophile. Even after he's acquitted due to inconsistencies in made-up stories about him, his community continues to shun him and his family. And I got mad. So mad I actually kind of understood when the son lost his temper and spit at the girl and called her a bitch. You're making me okay with cussing out and spitting at a child, movie, not okay! But that's just to give you an idea of how this stayed with me. I think it may just be one of the most important and relevant films I've ever seen.
I know I'll probably come under some fire for this, probably more so than anything else I've said in this post, but I see this in relation to the #MeToo movement. Yes, I know that sexual abuse is real and the Hollywood epidemic is real. I'm not implying in any way that this is just like The Salem Witch Trials or The Hunt. I know that it's happened and the predators involved should be punished harshly. Okay? Okay. But one would be foolish to say that none of the many, many accusations popping up hasn't been the result of power hunger or revenge. As a person with a penis, false accusations like that terrify me because I keep hearing about innocent people who get accused of this and then shunned by their society because the universal groupthink right now has told society to always believe the accuser no matter what. I know that's not popular to say right now, but that's my point.
So, what can we do to combat this mob mentality? I actually got the immense privilege this weekend to meet Mr. Paul McCusker from Focus on the Family, one of the main men behind one of my favorite shows, Adventures in Odyssey. "Pics or it didn't happen, David." Okay, fine.
Can I get back to what I was saying now? Okay. Anyway, I asked him what he thought could be done about it since the topic was on my mind. And he basically said that people have a tendency when they hear something they don't like to immediately look for the imagined motivation of someone opposing them. The trick is to look first for the truth and then think about the why.
And that's really what it all comes down to, I think. Truth. People, for lack of a better way to say it, truly can't handle the truth! But if we're to move past mob mentality and have real justice we have to look for Truth. Always pursue it and don't stop until you've got it. Even if you're scared the Truth may go against everything you or your group has ever believed or held dear, just look for the Truth, wherever it may be.