Have you ever been witness to the birthing of a crazy mob? Have you ever viewed a scene on television of crazy looters or people “celebrating” a team victory, going crazy in the streets and breaking things and losing control? Have you ever wondered where that mob mentality comes from or how a riot begins? Well….twice in my life I have seen it occur (at least almost). Both times, it was extremely frightening. Not so much as in terms of scared of being there, but more a fear of how it happened so quickly, escalated so rapidly and was SO easy to be swept up in!
Both times it occurred at my tiny little Christian college in Arkansas. I’d like to say that it stemmed from some sort of social justice fervor after marching for rights of the millions being killed in Darfur, or in a protest of some silly political war….something GRAND and noble like that! But, sadly…both times it was really just nothing more than bunch of bored, testosterone ridden redneck southern boys with nothing better to do than cause trouble.
The 1st time was on a lovely spring evening. It was a Thursday and the next day was a big deal at school. It was one of the weekends they depended on all year for revenues, campus visits and recruiting. We had an event called “Spring Sing”…which was a cheesy little song and dance show that all of the social clubs ( the “Christian equivalent” of fraternities and sororities) on campus competed in. It was a big deal to many! Lots of kids worked very hard on it. As a result, families, proud parents and grandfolks, youth groups and prospective high schoolers from all over would come this weekend. The campus was cleaner, greener and nicer than ever. The school would spend weeks touching it up to paint the place a lovely picture!
Well….over in the athletic dorms where I resided, a few guys decided it would be fun to sneak out after curfew (yeah there was actually a curfew…a whole other blog) and mess things up a little bit. The plan was to involve some toilet paper, marshmallows, plastic forks and the usual prankster accessories. The idea quickly grew from a few dudes, into a literal social movement! In a week or so our dorm had amassed some 400 rolls of TP and all kinds of other fun things. It was nuts. Word spread so fast about the upcoming terror attack that inevitably, the administration found out too. They knew exactly what night it was to take place.
They began to give warnings all over campus, but quickly saw that this was doing nothing more than to actually “fuel the fire”. So, the plans continued. And finally the night came. The school was not sure what to so, so they beefed up security (which consisted of a bunch of good ol’ boys named Bubba over the age of 50). They also lined up several of the male faculty and resident assistants to block each stairwell so the guys could not leave.
What happened next was one of the craziest things I have ever seen. The guys decided they were going anyway…regardless if we had to bust through the human blockade. SO around midnight, everyone gathered in the halls, decked out in black make up, dark clothes, camos, ski masks (for fun dramatic effect) and lined up. We…I mean they began a stomping chant and literally charged down the stairs. The eyes of the professors at the bottom were priceless! They knew they could do nothing, and out of fear for their lives quickly moved aside as some 50-100 college guys stormed the quaint little campus.
It soon became apparent that what began as a little prank was going to get VERY out of hand. Many of the guys just flipped. It was as if the 1st flick of the wrist releasing the toilet paper set off some thug mentality gene long suppressed in their DNA! The severity of the “prank” escalated at an alarming rate. Guys were jumping on security guard cars and bouncing on their hoods. Some of the toilet paper was being set on fire. The poor guards that decided to chase on foot were literally run circles around (one guy even had his hat removed, was slapped twice in the face with it and then had it placed back on him before he could even move). Then it got worse. Cars were literally pushed out of parking spaces and blocked the roads. Flowers and trees were uprooted. And then it got WORSE! The sound of breaking glass brought many back to reality. A small few lost it and began kicking in building doors, breaking glass etc…… A simple little “tweaking” of the rules had turned into a severe and serious act of violence!
Long story short, when the dust cleared there was hundreds and hundreds of dollar$ worth of damage. There were serious penalties handed out. Severe discipline was called into action!
It was so scary to see how quickly good people turned so bad! I had never witnessed something grow so out of hand in the flash of an eye. And for the 1st time I understood how things like that could happen.
As I grow older, I see a similar effect in the lives of people all around me. Things that began like a simple little prank grow to become deadly and dangerous! Maybe it began with a few pictures on the internet. Or a little harmless flirting. It was only a sip. Just one hit. Get the drift?
These same “little” things, meant to be fun turn into bigger things like: addiction, divorce, adultery, teen pregnancy etc. What was meant to be nothing became a great big pile of something! And in most cases it happened so fast, that no one saw it coming. It was never meant to take place…but it did.
Satan has mastered this act of deception. And he knows we are all simple enough to fall for it again and again. I think of the Biblical example of David…when he 1st saw Bathsheba. Do you really think at that time David said “I think tonight I’ll ruin marriages, cause a murder and a lost child”? No way! It started small but grew out of control before anyone could stop it!
Sin does that. It is a virus. All it needs is a healthy culture to grow in and it will spread like wildfire. I urge you to be careful in your lives. Before you even start, think about the consequences. Don’t get caught up in sin like David did. Stop your problem before it even becomes one.