Vol.XIX No.IX Pg.8
November 1982

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Ten students were asked to engage in a class-room experiment in Human Behavior. Different length lines were drawn on the chalk-board. Then the instructor pointed to a line second in length, and asked all who believed this to be the longest line to raise their hand. Unknown to one student, nine of the ten had been previously instructed to "vote" for this line, so nine hands were raised. The tenth student, knowing the line was not the longest, hesitated — then seeing the other hands, raised his hand also.

I am told that in repeated experiments the percentage of capitulation to the majority opinion was very high, especially when the odds were nine against one. When only eight voted in "error" the percentage of capitulation dropped, though still high. Not only did the two buck a smaller majority, but they encouraged one another to render an honest judgment.

Reminds me of the time I remained seated at the display of an American flag, and the playing of the U.S. national anthem. Everyone remained seated. But as I was leaving the building I overheard one man say to another, "You know, I felt a bit guilty about not rising when they played the Star Spangled Banner, but no one else did so." His companion nodded assent. And I have kicked myself ever since for not leading a patriotic movement. If one person had arisen in respect for our flag and country I am convinced all present would have done so.

In this day of conformity, all the more reason for daring to lead — to have convictions and therefore speak or act. We lament the dearth of leaders and heroes without realizing that these are often ordinary people who arose to the need of the moment. They did what was right, without waiting to see if others did the same thing.

Individuality is not kooky. That is often only the "show-off" traits of one who actually is extra hungry for recognition by the masses. But genuine individuality acts regardless of what others think. The Christian individual (and all Christians come to Christ, and serve Him, in a one-on-one basis) marches to a divine drumbeat. He seeks to learn the will of the Lord, and as he acts he checks to see only if the Lord is pleased.