The Face of Courage!
By Stephen L Doherty
June 28th, 2020
“The mob is the most deadly of all critics
in that it thinks critically only towards critical thinkers.”
Years ago, when I was a kid, I recall a particularly poignant scene from an old episode of Gunsmoke. The otherwise peaceful townfolks of Dodge City had allowed themselves to be agitated and cajoled into a frenzy by one or two people peddling lies and righteous indignation-a dangerous combination. Before you knew it, the sparks were fanned into a roaring flame, and “The Mob” descended onto an innocent bystander who had become a convenient target of the fearful suspicion and rising tensions.
Within minutes, the angry crowd had dragged the innocent man into the street, tied his hands together, and slipped the noose around his neck. Only the last-minute arrival of Marshall Dillion saved the innocent man from certain death. As the Marshall angrily ordered the mob to “clear out of here and go home!” the nearly murdered innocent victim asked incredulously, “You mean..you’re just going to let them get away with it?” Marshall Dillion somberly but realistically responded, “How do you arrest a mob?”
A few weeks ago, my 21-year-old daughter, a junior at the University of Colorado-Boulder, discovered firsthand the power of the mob. My daughter is a Conservative Trump supporter who loves America and believes in the rule of law. Recently, she posted a 60-second video of a young Conservative girl posing legitimate societal, cultural, and political questions. She found it interesting and she chose to share it. Judge for yourself the “offensiveness” of the questions. https://vm.tiktok.com/JdMTxfy/
The response was as instantaneous as it was harsh and cruel. Within hours, she was targeted with criticism and labeled a racist for the mere act of sharing an opinion. In the face of the increasingly negative sentiment–she vainly tried to remind people that everyone was entitled to their own opinion. By now though, it made no difference. The die was cast and emotions were driving behavior, not rational thought.
The afternoon culminated with her sorority demanding she delete her post because it was “discriminatory and exclusionary” and made people angry and uncomfortable. An innocent post expressing a different viewpoint triggered this outburst with demands that she not only erase her thoughts-but then kneel in contrition to the angry mass of emotion and hypocrisy masquerading as thought and social empathy. Upon hearing this story, anyone who knows me can but imagine what I was thinking and feeling.
What happened next was as life-defining as it was moment-shattering. It’s the kind of thing we hope for as parents while understanding that it’s a lot to ask of a 21-year old with a sweet and kind heart and malice towards none. That same day, my daughter sent her sorority a letter of resignation with this simple but powerful message. “I love my sorority and the people in it, but if membership now demands that I kneel to the mob while being forced to stifle my own opinions and convictions, then that’s a membership I feel obligated to walk away from. Your willingness, even eagerness, to sacrifice me on the altar of political correctness makes me question the very foundations you claim to instill. I wish you all nothing but continued success and happiness. ”
Few things test us more in life than standing fast on our convictions but few things are more gratifying or character enhancing than meeting that challenge. My daughter has embraced at a young age the timeless adage of, “To thine own self be true.” Her discovery that some friendships cannot survive nor respect a difference of opinion, was a disheartening but necessary life lesson. Winston Churchill once said of courage, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because…it is the quality which guarantees all others.” As a father, I take great pride and comfort in seeing her embrace this quality at such a young age.