Lesson: Going Against the Crowd

Background story

Use this one, make up one of your own, or use a Biblical story such as Joshua & Caleb

President Bush said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator and he has weapons of mass destruction such as biochemical agents, and he must either give up his weapons or be forced out of power by military force.  The U.S., along with Britain, are ready to go to war with Iraq to achieve his goal.  Many people around the world, including many Americans, don't think we should go to war, and millions have protested against the war in the past few weeks.  When asked by reporters on why he doesn't listen to the protesters, he said that he understands why some people don't want to go to the war, but he sincerely believes that what he is doing is right and he will not change.

1.   What will President Bush gain or lose by not listening to protesters?
As a leader in a democratic country, he will probably lose the votes of those protesters when is up for re-election.
2. Isn't killing people sinful?  Then why would a president who claims to be a Christian authorize the military to go to war?
He believes we need to take out Hussein who has used poison gas against his own citizens before.  Going to war is our last resort and now it seems that other options are just not working.  The Old Testament is full of instances where God told Israelis to destroy enemies in order to remove evil.  God judges our intentions, and knows that we fight reluctantly in order to promote what's right and not our own interests.
3. What makes President Bush think he is right to take necessary measures to remove Hussein, including the use of force?  The U.S. also has weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and so why don't we get rid of ours first?
Hussein has shown the world that he does not care for people's lives and welfare, but only his own glory and power.  President Bush knows from history that brutal dictators must be stopped before they get enough resources to do more harm, and Hussein could have those weapons shortly.  He believes that the danger of Hussein in the future is far greater than the danger and sacrifices of a war today.
We don't use WMDs except in self-defense and only when absolutely necessary.  During WWII, we were shocked to see the Japanese kamikaze attacks and realized that if we had to invade the main islands of Japan, millions more people would die.  Using atomic bombs actually shortened the war and saved many lives.
4. Wouldn't it easier for President Bush to just follow the crowd and pretend Hussein is not a threat to humanity?  Why work so hard to be unpopular?
He believes he is right, and doing the right thing sometimes means doing the things that are not popular because others are wrong.  The French and Russians don't want to fight Hussein because Hussein owes them billions of dollars for weapons and other things.  Their opposition to the U.S. effort to topple Hussein has much less to do with their convictions and more to do with their wallets.
Definitions of the key word: "Absolute" (n./adj.)

"Absolutes" are things that are not seen as "relative" to something.  They are considered to be perfectly and precisely defined.  Often when we refers to "absolutes," we refer to something that’s bearing the specific quality all the time, everywhere, for everyone, and under all circumstances. 

In contrast, "relative" things are things that have meaning only when it's compared to something else from which a temporary standard is set.  For instance, Shaqille O'Neal is tall, but Yao Ming is taller.  So Shaq is not so tall relative to Yao Ming.  But compared to you and me, Shaq is tall.

So, is there absolute morality?  In other words, are there things that are always right, and things that are always wrong?  The world today likes the concept of "relativism," which means there's no absolute right and wrong.  Something is "right" if you think it's right.  A result of this concept is the trend of "following the crowd," or "jumping on the bandwagon."

What's wrong with following the crowd?
Biblical examples

Joshua & Caleb
Joshua & Cable were the only two adults (aside from Moses) who wanted to follow God's lead and go take the land of Palestine.  All the other adults listened to the other ten spies and didn't want to fight the "giants" of Palestine.  For their opposition to the popular position, they were almost stoned to death.  But God appeared and told the people that Joshua and Caleb are right and all of the other adults won't be able to enter into the Promised Land.

Did Jesus go with the crowds?
What is the crowd doing nowadays?  What's wrong with these?

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 3/8/03