Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My ramblings on the riots

There have been so many brilliant articles, blog posts and clever comments about the riots last week that humble little I could barely muster up anything astoundingly different. So, I will keep it as 'just what I feel the need to say'.

My first observation was the predictability of the approach a certain mass of people disappointingly took - including, sadly, the UK's prime minister. Something along the lines of -

'These people need punishment, lots of it and the more vindictive, the better. If they starve because we have taken away their benefits, then they only have themselves to blame. Let's feed our own dark sides heartily on these people. Let's take the phony oh-so-much-higher moral high ground so the lash of our whip falls that bit harder and revel in our justified (by the tabloid media mostly) cruelty - legitimised non-empathic nastiness aimed at the poor people that have metaphorically very quiet voices. Let's ignore any possible underlying cause and keep it simple.'

It was bound to happen. I do wish people would keep ugly subconsciousness to themselves - especially influential powerful people. I feel they have an especial duty to keep it inside.

Another observation was the provision of a perfect example of politicians keeping the mass media sweet. David Cameron appeared to have made his public speech about the riots by putting Daily Mail headlines together. Keep 'middle England' happy and we will be voted in again. Blech!

My third observation was the impact of the riots upon me personally. Not direct impact of course. I haven't so much as thrown a dustbin lid (although I once suggested it on Facebook - that might eventually get me five years inside). No, I was surprised how much strong emotion these riots have whipped up. Looking for the more complex underlying reasons for such social disharmony and reacting to the way this situation was dealt with, brought out my strongest values in full force: those of a need for greater equality and fairness in society and the prevention of abuse of power, compassion for fellow humankind - even if - no especially if - they have lost their way (David Cameron aside), the fact people with lots of power so readily and powerfully make stupid knee-jerk decisions that impact forcefully on individuals' lives and how this is simply wrong, how so many prejudiced assumptions were made and should not have been made and that things become so punitive and when they should attempt to be restorative.

And what would be restorative? I can only guess as I do appreciate this is hugely complex. How about exploring what might truly make a society cohesive:
* equality and fairness,
* a voice when it comes to issues that impact directly on you,
* shared goals and visions at a local level,
* feeling affiliated to those around you - connection not prejudice and fear
* having a clear role and opportunities that mean you can contribute and your contribution is valued
* reciprocation - give and take - mutual dependence
* the absence of such a strong materialistic hierarchy ('LOOK they have much more than us')
* the ability to meet all your basic needs and have what is considered the 'norm' for the society you live in so you do not feel socially excluded.
* and referring to my last posts - early intervention - children brought up in a stress free and supportive environment.

I can't see someone being locked up for four years for making a Facebook event as solving anything in the slightest. What a weird world we live in.


  1. I might need to add - I do think rioting and hurting people and their property is of course wrong....but I don't think it's as simple as people not knowing right from wrong.

  2. I am commenting as an expat observer: during my visits over 23 years I have noticed a gradual decline in the general society of England, for people seem to live in fear of each other. Even the once friendly English policeman has now disappeared, to be replaced with a gruff suspicious individual from who exudes a threat aggression.
    To be honest I no longer feel at ease, from the time of my arrival at either a port or an airport - I feel intimidated and am always glad to depart; a sad thing to say about one's home country.

    It was of no surprise to me that the riots took place as I had foreseen them and was only mildly surprised that they were not worse. That which occurred the burnings, looting & unfortunate deaths is what can happen when people lose control of themselves and act upon impulse.

    I was though very dismayed by Prime Minister David Cameron's 'cutlass waving' comment in seeking revenge. Him speaking in such a manner showed the rest of the world of just how akin he is to the rioters in temprement; albeit you all have to live with that and the future outcome of his instigated action.

    To my mind the British government needs to take an in depth look at the society which has been created and start to address and correct the imbalanced divisions of the nation.

  3. A small amount of social unrest seems to be the grease that (to a small degree) might weigh on the collective conscience of the politicians, like your Dave Cameron.

    Lately, politicians in general make me sick. In the US, we have the governor of my state running now for president with no more credentials than a nice head of hair and a convincing 'squint'... And all the while, the treasury is monetizing the debt (sorry for the 'zed'), and inflation in four months will probably mean that a loaf of bread will cost 4 USD.

    Sometimes, I think we might be better off if we could just 'reboot' everything. But then, maybe I'm just on a pessimistic bender and have had too much wine before bed?

  4. I'm all for a reboot. A thoughtful, clever one.

    One of the thoughts that has tickled me is the idea that one goes out rioting and in the throes of aggression, one helps oneself to a flash pair of trainers. Our need to appear affluent has got a little out of hand hasn't it!?

    I got into trouble on FB with a friend for suggesting the four year sentence for creating a FB event to riot (that came to nothing) was inflated by the nation's bloodthirsty need for revenge. Four years is usually for sexual assault, kidnapping someone or holding someone at knife point. I suppose it might deter some people in the future - or alternatively build up resentment and bring back riots with more force. Or just be forgotten of course. The deterrent argument is always a little weak anyway. Many criminals re-offend and I don't NOT riot because a man went to prison for four years.

    Sadly, the predominant view (Sensors - 75% of society) usually wins these days because of the power of the press to manipulate votes. I doubt there will be significant learning and lots of people will just fill up our prisons and we will pay for it. Boo

  5. If you read through you bullet points, it's amazing how many of them are exactly what many of these kids are getting from joining 'gangs'. Sadly they are the ones who'll also get caught and subjected to these knee-jerk prison terms, which in many cases will probably just criminalise them further.

  6. A very pertinent observation Andy C and clarity as to why gangs so successfully fill up the void YP feel as a result of the lack of opportunity (or in some cases inability) to take part meaningfully in society.

    OK I think we are ready to rule to world.


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