I don’t quite know what to say tonight. I feel I need to say something, I just don’t know what. I have questions and questions and questions, and thoughts and opinions, but mainly questions, yet no answers, no conclusions, no information to shed any light on why the people causing devastation to others’ lives and livelihoods are doing so.
I live nowhere near any of the sites of rioting. I’ve not had to protect my little girl from nearby violence, not had to shield her ears from the sounds of breaking glass or sirens, not had to answer any questions as to why these things are happening. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t frighten me or anger me or make me wonder how. How has it come to this? How has destruction and violence come to be the answer to anything? How can people take pleasure from any of these vile actions?
I have read many reports, blogs and opinions today about the riots around our country. Many have made intelligent salient points. Some think it is as simple as these people are just brutish idiots. I don’t believe it is good enough to say these opportunistic gangs are just idiots. What has happened that rioting is seen as a solution? How are there no thoughts of consequences, of responsibility?
I am not about to start laying blame at anyone’s door. I just wish to make the observation that recently, life seems to be all about self. No sense of others, of family, of community. No respect for other people, for others’ feelings, possessions or opinions. No sense of action and consequence. It seems to be that much of society feel they are owed something. There has been a definite decline in people wanting to do something, as opposed to be something. How often do we hear teenagers and young people saying they want to be famous? They want celebrity status, but for what? What do they want to be famous for? Where is the notion of achievement? Where is the sense of pride, of striving to be good at something, to do your best?
It is easy to sit from the comfort of a sofa in a nice house, having just got in from a job that affords a mortgage and a car and maybe a holiday, to pass judgement on others, to say where are the parents? Why have they not brought their children up properly? I live in an area that is classed as ‘deprived’. I wouldn’t say that I was a deprived child, far from it; I had a good education, I went to university and I have been brought up with a strict work-ethic. But nor would I say I am from a privileged or wealthy family, and I certainly wouldn’t class my new family as wealthy. The Boyfriend works in a care home for children with behavioural problems, and I work part-time in the NHS. Money is tight. We don’t have luxuries. But we work hard. We do our best, and I would like to think that we have a moral and ethical code by which we live. But living where we do, I see disillusionment a lot. There is a high level of unemployment and low educational standards. People don’t have high aspirations here; learning is met with scorn, drinking the dole money away is the aim of most. And it is visible from generation to generation to generation. Most people in this area are born here and die here. It is easy to say “It’s the parents’ fault!”, but if their parents had the same views and theirs before them, what opportunities are there to break the cycle?
I think it is easy to assume that these views of selfishness, of not caring, of having no sense of responsibility are solely held by the youth of our society. I think it is easy to ask of those young masked teenagers looting the shops in London “Where are your parents?” when you are a good parent yourself, surrounded by other good parents. But those masked teenagers’ parents may be scoring drugs or getting drunk or may have left home years ago or may simply not care. So who’s responsibility is it now? Schools? The government? Society at large?
I honestly have no answers and am simply airing questions that have been going through my head all of today. I only know that this behaviour makes me sad and angry and most of all it makes me question what we can do. Because if we don’t stop and think and question why and think about what can be done, surely it won’t stop.