I read an article on how two men burnt down a principal’s office in the Free State. They were part of a larger group of students who were protesting outside of their school, because they had failed and wanted to be promoted to the next grade. The principal had suggested to both parents and students that they should come to his office and they can compare scripts with their report, to see if there was any merit in their demand to be promoted. Some agreed – but some didn’t and this is when the fighting started, which eventually ended up in the principal’s office going up in smoke.
The whole situation is a sad testament of how the destructive ideas that we have been taught have truly permeated our society. In demanding to be promoted, students protest through violent means, their parents being no better. Instead of calmly addressing the issue, the parents are so desperate for their children to be promoted (after having failed their exams) that they are willing to be violent, not taking into consideration the consequences of their actions. Instead of teaching their children to address the issue in a less destructive manner, they show them that if you can’t get your way, burn everything.
This is very ironic in many respects. The very places that students want to learn in are the first to be attacked. How do they expect to be admitted back to a place that they tried to burn down? It seems to be a classic example that is part of our country’s negotiation strategy – if municipal workers want high salaries, they trash the very streets that they clean. If taxi drivers go on strike, they attack and burn down buses that are transporting people, threatening their own customers with violence. Just because they want their way does not entitle them to get it; but it seems we have taught ourselves that violence solves everything. So we find our country besieged by the most destructive weapon known to man – the mob.
The mob mentality is simple – get an idea of perceived injustice/threat to jobs/money matters, into people’s heads, point them to an object or person who is to blame and like a missile they will attack the target. Unfortunately this also means that people can easily be manipulated to serve individual ends; as part of a mob, one feels bold to attack others and destroy property all in the name of being right, even if wrong. It is also an excuse for criminals to run amok. And those who do get arrested? They are seen as heroes of the protest, fighting for a cause, while the police are seen as the bad guys, because they are trying to keep the peace.
Back to the school protest – the students do not seem to understand that even if they get promoted, they place themselves in a very dangerous situation. If they struggled to grasp the lessons in their current class, how much worse will they be in the next class, as the expectations will be higher, the lessons harder and the consequences of failure even more devastating. But no one seems to be thinking about that – they demand that things go their way or else! They do not think that by burning the very place that they are studying in, they are burning their own future as well.
It also interesting to note that the word “mob” is also used to describe organised crime syndicates, like the Mafia. Because like those criminals, one’s life losses value the moment you stand in the way of the mob. I find that rather interesting.