Who says the British aren’t emotional and passionate? The other day I saw and man interviewed on BBC whose restaurant had been destroyed by out-of-control kids. I really felt for him; he had ploughed his everything into that restaurant and now he had nothing. He was so angry, and who could blame him? He’d always worked hard, taking responsibility for himself and for the people he employed. He deserved his success. My heart went out to him.
There’s never any justification for this kind of seemingly senseless and vicious looting. The bunch of hoodies who approached that young boy who was wounded, pretending to help him while they picked his pocket – it revolts everything in me. The thing is, looking for or denying justification is absolutely useless, it doesn’t help anybody.
This explosion of violence happened and nothing ever happens without a reason. To just pin it on reckless, irresponsible youth who just want something for nothing and to say this isn’t about poverty or disenfranchisement is so short-sighted. Of course it’s about disenfranchisement and what it does to the core of a person over generations. You can’t know unless you’ve experienced it what it is to be disempowered.
And so often people who come from a middle-class or better social set-up don’t realize how much inner strength that’s given them. How can they? They’ve got no personal experience to compare it to. All the rational explanations about being responsible that people from this sector of society love to apply to criminals’ behavior don’t amount to a hill of beans.
Disempowerment creates ravaged self-esteem. Combine that with over-permissive entitlement and the frustration of not being able to go anywhere with your life and your dreams; add the deep anger that results from not being loved and cared for and given opportunities and you’ve got combustion waiting to happen. Surely the pot has been simmering for a long time and everybody’s been hoping it would somehow remain “not my business”.
I’ve appreciated how both BBC and CNN have interviewed people who have depth of insight into the problem and understand that there’s no quick fix and that moralizing isn’t going to help anybody. I think a society has the right to require its citizens to behave with integrity towards each other and to respect each other’s property, and I also think those kids have to face the reality of how much they’ve hurt people and to take responsibility for their actions.
It’s a harsh lesson for a child to have to learn, though. They already have so little within themselves. What they really need is love and protection and care and the kind of discipline that comes from nurturing, not punishment. I think about all the money that gets spent on arms and warfare by Britain. If that was spent on the disenfranchised children, within a generation England would be a totally different place.
As adults we neglect the children of our world and then we expect them to be responsible. Why should they? We aren’t.