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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

UK Riots: a reflection

Photos from Enfield this morning:
Courtesy of @MattJF, ace ITN cameraman. Thanks Matt.

I cannot begin to describe what I felt watching the news coverage last night of the riots. It was compelling in a truly horrible way. We watched the coverage until midnight, my husband also getting emails through work (as he works in disaster recovery and contingency).

Rebels without a cause, except for their own gratification, absolutely trashing our cities. People  injured, some seriously. Over 400 arrests. London cells full. Fire crews unable to get to fires to fight them because of the mobs. Children running around getting involved, some as young as 10. What on earth is going on? This is England, not Afghanistan. It is absolutely bizarre. I tweeted last night, 'if this is what our youth can do when they get together, imagine what they could achive it they used their energies for good'.

People interviewed by the media seem to have differing views. Some saying it has been brewing for a while, others saying that these kids have nothing to do, they are disenfranchised, others still, talking about high unemployment and people being angry.

A few days ago I wrote a post having watched 'The Boy in Striped Pyjamas' about people having a line at which they cross, at that point where morals go out the window, a point where they would do things they wouldn't otherwise do. The last few days seems to have seen a lot of pepole crossing that line. I refuse to believe that all those people getting involved in the riots are malicious. I think a lot of them are opportunists. There was a shot on the news last night of people breaking in to a shop and two girls stood outside pointing to things they wanted. They did not have masks on, they were obviously not taking part in the violence but were taking advantage. It seems to me that a huge number of people are joining in with this because others are. I suspect that social networking sites are playing a large part in enabling them too.

However it is so important for us to remember that not all our young people are lawless or condoning this. In fact those that are involved in the rioting are a tiny minority. And it is wonderfully heartening to see people getting involved in clearing up their communities this morning and the online efforts to enable people to help clear up.

But what I want to know is why people have got to this point that they are inciting people to violence like this. Looting, rioting, setting fire to buildings... What has made them get to this point? What has made them cross their line? To be totally unafraid of authority or law and order, totally ignoring the police, goading them even... Is this really what a lawless society woudl be like?  I live in leafy Sussex, I am so far removed from this that I do not have a clue what it is like living in inner city London or what troubles and trials they face. Either way, something has got to be done. Whatever the cause is, it needs to be addressed.

The one good point of the evening was seeing #prayforLondon trending on twitter, well above #londonriots.  Whatever goes on today we all need to pray for a peaceful night tonight.

sorry just edited photo caption, it was Enfield not Ealing - I am sure the obersvant among you would have noticed! totally my fault...

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