29th July 2020

Primal Response 

All who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Matthew 26:52 (NIV)

Have you ever read William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’?  Sadly, the passage I remember most is ‘Piggy’ being killed by fellow pupils who had turned into a mob.  The book describes a group of schoolboys’ descents into becoming feral, and as a teenager, it was a warning that everyone has it in them to revert to primal responses if sufficiently provoked.

Today we believe democracy includes protecting minorities from the majority.  People believe they are fighting for what is right; but taking a stand against injustice, via mass protest, can quickly turn a crowd into a fearful being, which reacts rather than thinks.  As I write this, racially motivated unlawful deaths continue to fuel demonstrations, some peaceful, but many turning violent and destructive as people deal with grief and feelings of unfairness they are powerless to change.  As protestors and police continue to interact, physical aggression escalates, as both police and protestors ‘up the ante’.  Both parties revert to the primitive response of defending when attacked!

Research into 50 years of riot control in the US concluded when police escalate force-using weapons, tear gas, mass arrests and other tools to make protesters do what the police want—those efforts can often go wrong, creating the very violence that the force was meant to prevent.”  Violence stimulates further violence, but we knew this already, as 2,000 years ago Hosea wrote “Bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:2), echoed later by Jesus Christ, as per the header scripture.  Mob mentality has been around for millennia, eg, Lots’s house was besieged by a mob in Genesis 19:4, and Stephen was stoned to death by a ‘lynch mob’ in Acts 6:12 & 7:57-58.

There is no single or simple solution to manage a peaceful crowd exercising their right to free speech and crossing the fine line to a seething, frightening mob, out of control.  Police are people and need protection from physical harm too.  However, this same research shows that ‘education, facilitation, communication, and differentiation’ are principles that ‘protest policing’ needs to be based upon going forward, to prevent a protest becoming violent, and everyone lashing out.

What can we do?  Be peacemakers said Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:9).  Mobs are made up of individuals; people influenced by us – whether we know them, or not. Protestors ultimately seek justice for a cause.  James, brother of Jesus wrote “When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice”, (James 3:18, Contemporary English Version). So, let’s plant seeds of peace wherever we can.

Lord God, help us to be peacemakers within a climate of injustice and prejudice in this world.

Study by Irene Tibbenham


About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
GCI Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email:  tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk



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