A Christian Science perspective.
Close to 1,000 teens recently flooded into Philadelphia’s South End district. The chaos stopped traffic and forced some businesses to close early. Several people were injured.
Although it’s unclear why they were there, the phenomenon, known as a “flash mob,” is started through young people’s cellphone text messaging inviting one another to gather at a public place at a certain time. These messages are passed from one individual to the next, eventually reaching hundreds, if not thousands. Although the gatherings may start innocently with a partylike atmosphere, some have erupted into chaos and civil unrest. Internationally based websites are now appearing, inviting people to flash mobs.
Most likely, the majority join the events out of curiosity or boredom and a desire to be part of a community happening. Like other group activities such as soccer matches, World Series games, and political rallies, sometimes an event goes out of control and people get sucked up into an unruly mob mentality.
When such events involve young people, news coverage and official comments have suggested that parents need to be stricter and keep closer tabs on their kids’ whereabouts. But there’s more to dealing with mob thinking than just giving a kid a curfew.
To a degree, each of us has a responsibility to care for our communities and their activities. So if there are disruptive events – or even if one is predicted to happen – we don’t need to stand by passively. Through prayer we can affirm the power of the divine harmony to prevent trouble, and can insist on the fact that everyone involved with the activity is in their Father-Mother God’s hands. None of us is for an instant separated from God’s loving care, guidance, or counsel. We can pray to see them as ultimately God’s children, responsive to the good thoughts He is sending them.
God is forever communicating with His sons and daughters – and that includes adults as well as young people – through angel messages. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy described angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (p. 581).
These angels are fully able to counteract instant messages that might lead someone astray. There really is only one God, good, and He created His children to think and act only in a God-like way. Divine Mind’s angel messages help remind all of us of our true priorities and duties. God’s loving messages give us the ability to be law-abiding and to make wise choices about how to spend our time.
“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” the Bible says (Jer. 29:11). God’s thoughts are, in truth, the only thoughts we can think. There is no other Mind or intelligence but His.
Reflecting this Mind, God’s children can’t be mesmerized into adopting a mob mentality. Nor can they be bored and attracted to destructive deeds. Mind’s children possess the clarity and ability to think independently. There is no bad seed or disruptive element in any of them. No one is out of control.
In the Bible, an angry mob threatened to throw Jesus over a hill. But he passed through unharmed.
I believe it was the divine law of Love keeping him safe and providing the ultimate crowd control.
Even if it seems that people are not listening, we can trust that the Christ – God’s message of love for humanity – is, like a shepherd with his sheep, still with them and will guide them toward good. They can’t resist this divine impulsion, just as the flower can’t help turning to the sunlight.
This was true for me when I was in high school in the 1970s at the time of the Vietnam War. A friend was active in a social/political organization and invited me to some meetings that included demonstrations.
I was totally naive about the connection and went because it seemed like it would be a good time. My parents didn’t question the activity because I was a fairly trouble-free kid. Since I was in the Christian Science Sunday School, I was used to praying and asking God for guidance. While I couldn’t see anything wrong with the activity, part of me was uneasy about it. Soon after, I discovered some questionable things about the organization while preparing a research paper. And it was clear to me that I should stop my participation immediately.
None of us is ever separated from God’s loving care or counsel. Even if someone you love has gone along with the crowd, you can pray to see God there – directing, guiding, guarding, and keeping them and their community safe. Divine Love can defuse mob mentality as we see all involved as under the influence of God, or good, and free from any other control. God’s angels – truly instant messages – will restore peace and bring them safely home.