When I was growing up I always hated it when my parents would say to me, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff would you?!” I mean really? What answer did they expect to get? Um, no I’m not going to jump off a cliff if all of my friends do, that would be stupid! And, how stupid do you think my friends are that they would jump off a cliff?!!!
I had once heard something about pack animals following each other off of cliffs so I started doing research to see if that was true. I also wondered if that saying came from real life events. I came across something called game jumps-, which is exactly that, when herds follow each other off cliffs. Historians say, that Blackfoot Indians used to hunt Buffalo and Bison using a method called “pishkun.” What they would do is, they would have one person dress up like a buffalo and wander to the front of the herd, then the rest of the group of Indians would wait in the back of the herd. When the person in front gave the signal, the people in the back would start chasing the buffalo with spears. The person in the front, dressed like a buffalo or bison, would take off running so that the other buffalo would follow him. At some point he would find a fortress in the side of the cliff while the rest of the buffalo ran off the cliff, game jump. The fall would then break their legs and, once they were rendered immobile and could not run away, the Indians would kill them. An excerpt taken from Meriwether Lewis’s journal describes such hunt’s. “One of the most active and fleet young men is selected and disguised in a robe of buffalo skin... he places himself at a distance between a herd of buffalo and a precipice proper for the purpose; the other Indians now surround the herd on the back and flanks and at a signal agreed on all show themselves at the same time moving forward towards the buffalo; the disguised Indian or decoy has taken care to place himself sufficiently near the buffalo to be noticed by them when they take to flight and running before them they follow him in full speed to the precipice; the Indian (decoy) in the mean time has taken care to secure himself in some cranny in the cliff... the part of the decoy I am informed is extremely dangerous.”” (taken from Wikipedia) So, why am I telling you about this awful and very disturbing way to hunt?!
How often do we read a facebook post or see something on twitter and get fired up? We want to share it or repost it or join in the heated debate. No? Just me? Our generation has grown up in a world obsessed with public opinion. We ask other people’s opinions about everything. Some times it’s innocent or necessary, like: "Does anyone know of a good dry cleaners?" "Can someone recommend a babysitter?" "Has anyone used almond milk to cure cancer?" (never hurts to ask) But some times it’s not so innocent: "Does anyone else think…insert Politian’s name…is an idiot?" "Did you see the Supreme Court ruling today?!" Or we repost something that someone else wrote sometimes degrading or spiteful but it’s ok because we didn’t write it we are just sharing it. (Trust me, I’ve done all these things so this is me speaking from experience not judgment) What is our motive? Which direction are we steering the herd? Why do we think that everyone needs or wants to know our opinion? Why do we want to know everyone else’s opinion? Essentially we have stopped thinking for ourselves and we have turned into a pack. Whatever herd you belong to: church, friends, family, work, etc we have decided it is easier to take what people tell us; or other’s opinions and go with that, instead of deciding what we believe for ourselves. Or, novel idea, finding out what the Bible has to say about our situation. Although, it may seem harmless when we are just sitting in a field eating grass, all it takes is that one member of our herd to take off running and before we know it, our legs are broken and we are waiting to be hunted.
I know, you think I’m being dramatic don’t you? Social media works off of sensationalizing things. For example: I live in the DFW area and this spring we got a ton of rain. According to http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/?n=dmoprecip in the DFW area we have had 35.58” of rain from January-June. In comparison, in all of 2014 we only got 21.32” of rain so that’s a pretty big difference. I saw several facebook posts about all the rain we were having saying things like: They shut down Six Flag because it’s under water or All of DFW is under water. I had people texting me, that don’t live in the DFW area, asking if I was alive because they saw the news and social media and it seemed really bad. However, the six flags that was photographed and mention was actually a different six flags and the article was several years old. Also some of the posts were fake articles using fake pictures. We did have some areas that were hit hard and some places were bad and because some of that was true we didn’t take the time to really read and decide what was true and what wasn't. Instead, we are reactionary or just follow the pack and repost or share stories and information, therefore joining in the perpetuation of false information or contention. It may seem harmless when it’s something like the weather. However, when it’s something like same sex marriage, or racism or calling for a boycott of a business, we can do a lot of damage not only for ourselves but also for the rest of our "herd" if we are not careful in our responses and opinions.
“Deliver, Lord! For the godly have disappeared; people of integrity have vanished.People lie to one another; they flatter and deceive. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that boasts! They say, “We speak persuasively; we know how to flatter and boast. Who is our master?”(Psalm 12:1-4 NESV)
Maybe we have a fear of standing out among the pack. Imagine being one buffalo among all of those other buffalo running as fast as they can trying to avoid death. What if that one buffalo decided to either stop or turn and go the opposite direction? It would probably get trampled right? Or at the very least injured. Historians say that the reason the Indians went after the entire herd is because they thought that if they allowed even one to live, that buffalo would remember next time and keep the rest of the pack from following. Therefore they killed them all, knowing that just ONE would make a huge impact on their hunting.
Just hours before Jesus was going to be killed He spent alone time with His disciples. He looked at Peter and told him, “’Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’” (Matthew 26:34&35) Even though Jesus told Peter exactly what was going to happen Peter argued with Jesus and then he forgot what Jesus had prophesied would happen and yet fulfilled exactly what He said he would do. “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:69-75
The fear of man drove Peter to deny Jesus, not just once but three times, after he swore he would never deny Jesus even unto death. Fear of being trampled by the pack made Peter forget what was prophesied would happen; even though it was only hours before that Jesus spoke those things.
So by now you’re maybe thinking, “Great so I need to be alone forever so that I don’t become a casualty of pack thinking.” Good news, that’s not at all what I’m saying. If we go back to the analogy of the buffalo what can we learn from them? What if, instead of just grazing in the field all day (sitting idle), the buffalo would survey the land while grazing? Realizing what the land looks like around them.
“For thus has the Lord said to me: ‘Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.’” Isaiah 21:6
What if one decided, even though he is a part of a herd, he would wait to be reactionary, just because the herd is, and look at his options. What if he decided, “I will survey the land, I will decide which direction the pack is going and I will decide if that is the direction I want to go.” What if he decided to wait and look around before taking off with the pack? What would that do to the rest of the herd? Would others wait too? If one buffalo can determine the death of hundreds maybe thousands of buffalo, could one buffalo help save hundreds maybe thousands?
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15New King James Version (NKJV)