I read a very disturbing story this week about a sixteen-year-old Guatemalan girl who was beaten and burned to death. Local media reported that the girl was tortured for her alleged involvement in the killing of a taxi driver there earlier this month. Is this an appropriate form of justice? I don’t think so.
Where is love? Where is mercy?
The phenomenon where large groups of people react, or overreact, to a situation has been called “Herd behavior or Herd mentality.”
“During times of mass panic, the herd type behavior can lead to the formation of mobs or large groups of people with destructive intentions.
Crowds that gather on behalf of a grievance can involve herding behavior that turns violent, particularly when confronted by an opposing ethnic or racial group. The Los Angeles riots of 1992, New York Draft Riots and Tulsa Race Riot are notorious in U.S. history. The idea of a “group mind” or “mob behavior” was put forward by the French social psychologists Gabriel Tarde and Gustave Le Bon.
Sporting events can also produce violent episodes of herd behavior. The football hooliganism of the 1980s was a well-publicized, latter-day example of sports violence.
Several historians also believe that Adolf Hitler used herd behavior and crowd psychology to his advantage, by placing a group of German officers disguised as civilians within a crowd attending one of his speeches. These officers would cheer and clap loudly for Hitler, and the rest of the crowd followed their example, making it appear that the entire crowd completely agreed with Hitler and his views. These speeches would then be broadcast, increasing the effect.” Wikipedia – herd behavior
I can’t help but be reminded of the mob that dragged an adulterous woman in front of Jesus one day. It was a similar situation to the one in Guatemala, only their plan was to stone her to death. They questioned Jesus about whether or not they had the right to take her life.
John 8:6-11 NIV
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
No matter how heinous the crime, there is always forgiveness and mercy with Jesus.
When you sip your coffee this morning, thank God that he has forgiven your sins and doesn’t hold them against you. And never let a mob mentality be what guides your heart. Don’t follow the herd ……… follow the Shepherd.