Collective Power of the Masses

Benjamin.j.dictus@lawrence.edu

Collective powerThis past weekend I, like so many others, went to Madison for Halloween. The fact that it was raining and cold didn’t seem to bother to many people. The streets and bars where still packed and everyone seemed to be having a great time. As the evening wore on a large group began to gather near the “Brat House” towards the campus end of State Street. At first the crowd seemed harmless and chanted such things as, “USA” and “Frank the Tank,” but these soon led to slightly more derogative ones that I will not repeat. Soon after this things started to get out of control.
Supposedly, a group of Minnesota fans started singing the Minnesota fight song in an apartment that over looked the crowd. Whether this is true I cannot say, but what happened next I tell you was real enough. The entire crowd seemed to focus its collective yelling and shouting power at said window. After several minutes of this, someone launched something into the window completely shattering it. The crowd went wild and started to bust out every window in sight. Then out of the blue a man dressed as Alex from “A Clockwork Orange” stood in front of the store windows and tried to end the chaos. If you have read the book you can understand the irony of the situation and how he was being quite the hypocrite. Either way, the crowd found him unconvincing (chances are no one heard him) and continued their antics, despite his pleas,. This destruction was short lived, however, as a police force numbering around 40 strong, in full riot gear, busted onto the scene. They shot tear gas into the crowd causing an exodus of the area. Tear gas, let me tell is an unpleasant thing, the eyes water, the throat and the nose are on fire. What happened after that I couldn’t tell you, as I thought it was time to for me to leave the area.
But the point of all of this is that I learned something from this experience. Don’t try to stop an angry crowd when you are in a costume that represents youthful aggression, recklessness, and discontent. It just doesn’t work. If anything you are contributing to the situation by giving the masses an icon. Instead try dressing up like Jesus, who I had an intimate conversation with about the negative effects of rioting, to deter the violent crowds. Choose a costume that represents peace, and love, and people don’t even have to hear you to understand, they only need to see you.

Ben Dictus

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