Rabble Rousing

For those of you under the age of 50, or who don’t read Historical fiction, rabble rousing is defined as “an instance or the practice of stirring up the passions or prejudices of the public.” Back in the olden days, before the internet, rabble rousers worked crowds while standing on a crate on a street corner. Often they could be found at political rallies. Now we have online access and the 24-hour news cycle, and they’re everywhere.

Let me tell you let me tell you a little something about rabble rousers. They want you scared. They want you to react without thinking. They want you to join Chicken Little in running aimlessly and screaming out, “The sky is falling!” They feed on your tears, your hand-wringing, your mindless terror.

Friends, the sky isn’t falling. The circumstances have varied, but if you stop and do five minutes of research, you’ll find that things really aren’t that different than they were in decades past. Despite the best efforts of civil rights leaders in the last 60 years, we still have racism. (This, IMHO, is due to rabble rousers in civil rights leader clothing.) It’s the same hatred, fear, and bigotry in an updated wardrobe.

The events in the news are heart-breaking. Is anger over Charlottesville justified? You bet. If you’re not angry, you might be part of the problem. This is a time to join together in lament. If you wail, it should be for the lives lost, for the hard hearts that caused this, and the pain that will be endured in the community for months and years to come.

You can’t change anyone’s actions through sheer force of will. You can’t stop evil single-handedly. The problem is beyond all of us, it’s bigger than we can manage. That doesn’t mean wailing and hand-wringing is the only answer. Facebook memes aren’t going to fix it. In fact, Facebook memes are often rabble rousers.

You can only do one thing: Examine your life, and change the things that need to be changed. Really look at your attitudes and weed out any hint of fear, hate, bigotry. Do something nice for a person who doesn’t look like you. It doesn’t have to be big. You can turn someone’s day around by complimenting a piece of their clothing. If you try to do something nice and the other person reacts with fear or distrust, that’s on them. It’s not your problem. The only way to change society is to change ourselves, and to teach our children to be better people than we are. That’s how we fix it, a generation at a time.