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Thursday, January 13, 2005


Crowd Mentality

Warning - this article contains cynical content.

Crowds are funny things. A lot of people act differently in crowds. They feel an empowerment that they don't feel when they are on their own.
On New Year's Eve I was wandering through down town London. The crowd was fairly large, well behaved, ably controlled by an abundance of police, and enjoyed a fireworks display that was ok for a lot of money going bang in about 15 minutes. I ended up on the side of the river Thames sitting on a marble dome sort of thing and yelling Happy New Year and giving high fives to a bunch of teenagers I'd never met before. Why were we there? What did we achieve?

I couldn't help but compare this crowd with the huge crowds that lasted days and days in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. There was something different. There was a purpose. Yet there was still a crowd mentality. In a crowd complete strangers feel free to act like life-long friends. Noise seems to be important in crowds. People that usually hate attracting attention towards themselves seem suddenly empowered to take on the world. (People like me have to work harder than normal to attract attention). Maybe the crowds of the Orange Revolution had a point, a reason. They will probably go down in history and maybe they will prove to have made a difference towards democracy in Ukraine. What individual difference did it make in the lives of those who were part of the crowd. An experience? Definitely. Life-changing? Who knows.

I thought of some other crowds. A Jerusalem crowd a couple thousand years ago one week welcomed a Galilean as King, and the next week cried for his blood.
Jesus loved crowds - he had compassion on them. But for me his most touching stories are one on one.

What crowd do you belong to?

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