Hundreds of youths wreaked havoc on the Mall of America on Monday, 12-26-11, reported the front page of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Tuesday, with a follow up story on Wednesday. It seems that mobs of youths ran through the mall, knocked displays and kiosks over, smashed things, and grabbed merchandise. Nordstrom’s closed its doors after it was ‘hit’ by the mob, which reportedly smashed the glass of the cosmetic counter and toppled displays. The incident was noted as a “smash-and-grab” mob.
Dan Jasper, a Mall of America spokesman stated that “Large groups of young people gathering to cause mayhem is a social phenomenon happening across the country.” It has been suggested that the incident was a criminal flash mob or a “smash-and-grab” mob, which occurs when a group of people coordinate on social media sites, swarm into stores and ransack shelves.
I find it troubling that hundreds of youth participated in this incident at the Mall of America. Desiree Bastyr, a Nordstrom employee who works at the cosmetics counter said; they had heard the incident was a “smash-and-grab” mob. “It was supposed to be fun and running through, but it was more than that.”
We may often join a group, whether religious, social, or whatever, to find camaraderie and support. Many times these social interactions suit our needs and fulfill the purpose of their intent. Sometimes however, as in such a distressing and frightening situation described above, these bonded groups cause disaster, mayhem, and even death. Remember back to Jonestown, when on November 18, 1978 909 Americans were led to their death by Rev. Jim Jones in a mass murder-suicide pact after Jones’ gunmen killed a U.S. visiting congressman and four others. See: http://articles.cnn.com/2008-11-12/us/jonestown.factsheet_1_jonestown-airport-ambush-leo-ryan?_s=PM:US Those 909 Americans, many of whom wanted to disband and leave Jonestown, were trapped and ultimately, led to their death.
Whether we are supporting a religious institution, joining a social network, or participating in any group, it is very important for us to think for ourselves, maintaining our own values and morals. When we loose track or negate our own inner voice, to go along with another or a group, we slowly give away a piece of ourselves. Over time, by negating our own voice, we loose our identity, sometimes become victims, and weaken the intuitive connection to hear our own soul.
While many groups offer support and camaraderie, filling a need, and are beneficial to our comfort and growth, it is still important to maintain our own identity and values. Group values can sometimes change at will, bringing participants out of their comfort zones to participate in something out of their value or moral code. To leave such a group can be lonely and disturbing. The key, I believe, is to never allow our own inner voice, our own values, and our own morals to be compromised.
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