“The desire to fit in is the root of almost all wrongdoing.” Those are the words of Christopher Freiman, a philosophy professor from the College of William and Mary. And his point is well-taken. So often the desire to “fit in” — the desire to be accepted by a certain group of people — the desire not to stand out in a crowd — causes otherwise good men and women to compromise their morals and do things that they know are wrong.
Think, for example, of the rioting and the looting that have plagued some of our major cities during the past year. No doubt some of the perpetrators went to these protest gatherings with the explicit intention of causing trouble — but others probably made the decision to get involved right there on the spot. They did so because their friends or relatives were burning police cars and looting stores — and they didn’t want to be left out.
One of the reasons why Jesus called John the Baptist (whose feast day we celebrate this week) “the greatest man ever born of woman” was because John had no desire whatsoever to “fit in.” That’s clear from the way the Bible describes his wardrobe, his diet, his interaction with the religious leaders of the Jews, and his conflict with King Herod.
When other people are sinning (or even thinking about sinning), great saints like John the Baptist are pleased and thankful that they don’t “fit in.”
And, hopefully, so are we in similar circumstances.