Friday, March 22, 2013

Fickleness of Fame

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and, in contemplating what happened on that day and in the week that followed, I was thinking about the fickleness of fame.  Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as a hero and was lauded and honored on His entry to the extent that the people wanted to cover the streets over which He traveled with palm fronds.  Then, in a matter of less that a week, the crowds turned on Him and would rather have Him punished than the criminal Barabbas not because He was the Son of God but because of the fickleness of crowds.

Over what seem innumerable times in history, crowds or mobs have turned on people because of misbeliefs and have resulted in persecutions, torture, and executions. They have done so against rulers, kings and emperors and have persecuted groups of people of all sorts of ethnic, racial and religious beliefs.  These persecutions against Christians occur even today in China and in some middle-eastern countries.  What is it about human nature that causes this?  I don’t know the answer but raise it for your thoughtful consideration.

Let me share some thoughts for you to consider.  In ancient Rome which was a democracy, when a person finished his year term in high office which was represented by a laurel wreath on his head, the wreath was taken from his head and burned.  The Romans would say sic transit gloria mundi - thus, goes the glory of the world.  They wanted to bring the former office holders down from any self-inflated egoism to normality and equality with all the other Romans and to remind them that they was not better than any other Roman.

In more recent history, President Lyndon Johnson won a huge election victory in 1968 riding of the sentiment over the assassination of his predecessor.  But, he became so unpopular because of his handling of the Vietnam war that he felt that he could not run for reelection 4 years later.  Then, his successor, President Richard Nixon won a huge reelection mandate in 1972, only to be removed by scandal over his lying to cover up the Watergate scandal and he resigned instead of being removed by impeachment in 1975.  So, the turn of public opinion doesn’t always have to be violent to have consequences.  In these two cases, there were logical reasons for the step-downs.

Jesus, on the other hand, was falsely accused, sentenced to death, tortured and then He killed in the cruelest of ways - crucifixion.  This happened as a result of the fickleness of fame - how a crowd or mob can turn against a prominent figure over lies and rumors. And that change can occur in a very short period of time.

We learn on the news that some prominent figure is accused of criminal or immoral allegations and it makes all the prime-time coverage.  But, we don’t hear that those charges or allegations turn out to be wrong.  That only makes a footnote weeks later after that person’s life has been irreparably and negatively impacted.  So, many of these thoughts in this blog occurred as a result of thinking about Palm Sunday and of reading the local news about the ongoing stories of local prominent people who are accused over what might be or might not be illegal.  Many have been prominent and have positively contributed to our community.  They have been accused.  But, if they are found not guilty, they will have been punished regardless.  So, the story of Palm Sunday and Holy Week should be a lesson to us all to withhold our opinions and not make judgments until we learn all the facts.   

Now, you know what I think and I would very much like to know what you think about this subject.   

Let the light of our Lord shine upon you!

Ray Makowski, Co-Founder, Director and Secretary-Treasurer


  1. What a wonderfully succinct manner in which you portray one of the very big messages the Lord stands for and teaches ie "Do not judge, lest you be judged"

    Mardy (Australia)

  2. Even after we think we know all the facts, there is often more to be revealed that could change our opinion. Sometimes it is additional information. Sometimes it is our own personal experiences that can reshape our judgement. Sometimes it is historical perspective--as time goes on our original "knee-jerk" reaction is softened by time.
    In any case, we human beings are judging constantly. It is one of our survival skills. We need to know how to judge danger, safety, etc. It is when we generalize this skill to each other that we can get into trouble,especially when we do not trust our own judgement but are influenced by others. Jesus was judged first a hero and lastly a dangerous criminal, all within a week. We must ask ourselves how often we have been guilty of this same kind of "instant judgement" of each other as human beings. Are we influenced by others more than by our own hearts and faith? Can we retrain ourselves to stop and pause before we pass judgement? Can we avoid passing judgement on others altogether? If we enlist the help of God, it is a realistic goal for which to strive. As we approach Palm Sunday and Easter, let us begin practicing love rather than judgement of others.