Friday, February 7, 2014

What Happens When the Moral Majority is Neither

I was a student at The University if Texas in 1980. It was a time of social upheaval in the United States. When I would walk through the West Mall I would listen to impassioned speeches and hear students debate the issues of the day. There were tables set up like the one I sat behind. We were from the Baptist Student Union. Next to us was a table from a group known as Freedom From Religion. Those were great days that shaped my thinking and my world view.

One day I saw a guy wear a t-shirt. The logo said: "The Moral Majority is Neither." It was a reference to Jerry Falwell and a new kind of Christian involvement in politics. The moderate/liberal approach of a Southern Baptist Deacon and peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia was being challenged by a group of conservative Christians who backed candidates like Pat Robertson and the actor turned politico Ronald Reagan. I am not passing judgment on Jerry Falwell, I am just simply saying it is the first time I remember asking the question: "Is the majority always moral? always right?"

I had always lived with the mind set that most people were really alike and the majority view was usually; if not always, the best way. I soon learned that the majority is often wrong. For example; I believe in just war theory. This leaves me in the minority much of the time when it comes to global conflict, but I would argue that more times that not I was on the right/moral, side of the conflict.

I was thinking today about Copernicus who was excommunicated for believing that the world was round and that we are not the center of the universe. I also wonder how generations five hundred years from now will look at the 21st Century Church and shake their heads in disbelief at attitudes and beliefs which are outdated, narrow minded and just plan wrong.

Mark Twain said: "When you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time for reflection."

My favorite social commentator these days is Colin Cowherd. He often says: "I look to see which way the crowd is headed and I head in the opposite direction."

For example; the masses were for Denver. People who bet on the game chose Denver two to one. Denver was a 2 1/2 point favorite. My friend John looked at me right before kick off and asked me this question: "What do the experts think?" My answer? "The wise guys are all in on Seattle." The rest is history.

This is not a blog about betting or football. It is the realization that crowds are easily swayed, People rarely challenge authority. The masses are lazy. They look for affirmation and not information. Too many assumptions are taken at face value. The crowds don't challenge popular thought, they just follow.

It is no wonder that the biblical metaphor used most often of humanity is that of sheep, It is not a compliment. Sheep are basically one taco short of a combination plate. They blindly follow.

So Mark Twain was right. When you find yourself in the majority it is time to take stock. You could be ok, but chances are...

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