This year, three major religions have important holy days around the same time. Many Christians will celebrate Easter on 9 April (some Orthodox Christians will celebrate it on 16 April). Jews will celebrate Pesach (Passover) from dusk on 5 April until after nightfall on April 13. Muslims are already observing Ramadan, with Eid al Fitr on 21 April.
This may be a good time to reflect on a few things. For example, on Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to cheers and adulation. Today, we might say that the crowds went wild! And by all reports, they did. How many of these people were followers of Jesus? Probably not too many, but they got caught up in the event and the emotions.
Not too many days later, Jesus was subjected to a trial—illegal because it was held in the middle of the night and condemned to death. Crowds, given the opportunity to have him released, instead demanding that Jesus to be crucified.
How many of the crowd that cheered his arrival but later jeered at his suffering and death?
The reason I bring this up is that this was most likely due to groupthink. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Cohesiveness, or the desire for cohesiveness, in a group may produce a tendency among its members to agree at all costs. This causes the group to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation.*
Regardless of your personal beliefs, the reason I mention this is because in today’s world, there seems to be a lot of groupthink. The key part is that decisions are made due to peer pressure without personal evaluation. Those who practice Christianity tend to believe that they would never have been the ones to cheer Jesus’ demise. Similarly, many of us believe we would never, ever be among those who jeered at Jesus at his “trial,” trip to Golgotha, and suffering on the cross.
However, we all are subject to groupthink, especially in this day and age. When we submit our own judgement to the rule of popular opinion, we not only sacrifice our individual will, but also subscribe to whatever the mob decides without even evaluating it for right or wrong.
I respectfully suggest that we all use this time when holy days coincide to ponder this and see if we can’t do better in the future.