People are like sheep. Over a century ago this idea was expressed by German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche—Adolph Hitler was an admirer of his philosophy. Unfortunately Nietzsche was on to something that I fear was a very insightful view of human beings. He wrote about the “Herden (the herd) which would always follow a “ubermensch” (superman) wherever they were led. Nietzsche’s philosophy was that “might makes right” and “whoever has the power and leadership determines what is right and wrong, good and bad.
I think that this low view of the human condition is still true today. Let me give a few examples to illustrate why I think so.
- The Affordable Care Act—an act, that while not perfect, extends health insurance to hundreds of thousands of people not able to afford medical care because they are too sick to be eligible, too poor to pay for it, not mentally capable to work and get it from employers, is rejected still by the majority of the American people based on the lies they are told by their leaders in the Republican Party. It seems if you tell a lie often enough, loud enough, and broadcast it widely enough the “Herd” will believe it is true. I have no other explanation for our behavior. Christians have fallen into this trap along with the rest of the herd too often. Otherwise, why has the compassion that Jesus showed and taught not caused them to speak up against these lies? The Herd. Baa! Baaa!
- Kansas Politics. We live in an agricultural state. Farming is the basic industry of the state. Why do we consistently vote for those legislators who are not supportive of our industry? Those of us who read what our politicians are saying and watch what they are doing, stand in awe of the reality that the very people that are getting the shaft are the ones that are electing these politicians. For example—-the cuts to education, the refusal to extend federally paid medicare to a large number of our citizens , are all caused by the abolition of the income tax for small business. This abolition of income taxes for small businesses was based on the Laffer theory—a theory that has been discarded by almost all economists as flawed. The theory says this will create jobs. Will it? It has not proven to do so and you can read the statistics. No—-this tax cut for business will create wealth for the few and lower the standard of living even more for the majority. Yet if Kansans are told often enough, loud enough, and widely enough in the media that abolishing income taxes for business means jobs and a better life for all we will, and have voted, for those who tell us that again and again. Why? We are following the herd. Baa! Baaa!
- The Belief in the Conventional Wisdom. The “Conventional Wisdom” isn’t usually very “wise.” Just because a lot of people think something is true does not make it true. Just because our leaders tell us its true doesn’t make it true. Just because we hear it on CBS or Fox News or read it in the papers doesn’t make it true. Just because I say it is true doesn’t make it true. Truth is something that people must seek out for themselves based on their experiences and values. Truth comes after discernment which is hard work and too many of us are just too lazy to take the time and so we let others lead us by the nose and tell us what to think and what is true. Baa! Baaa!
- Let’s look at ourselves as Christians in this present day. What is the role that we play as Christians in relationship to these problems? We have joined the herd. We like to pride ourselves and say we are not “sheepish” or members of a herd. I’m not so sure. How many of us think that our purpose in life involves producing and consuming and competing? That is what our society demands of us—-to be productive, to consume, and always want more and better, and to compete for everything. Are we following the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth in rejecting this? We too are following the “Herd”. “Baa! Baaa!
But Christians should be different. We are followers and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth who was killed by “the Herd” at the instigation of the leaders of his day in politics, economics and especially religion who turned the “Herd” against him. He was killed because he was a threat to the domination system of his day in the areas of religion, economics and politics. Jesus was a radical and his radical approach to life went against the leadership in the religious, economic and political areas and so the leadership killed him. If Jesus appeared among us today and advocated the same radical way of life and religion that he taught—-Christians today would no doubt be in the midst of the “herd” that would shout “Crucify him! Crucify him!