09 August 2011

The lunatics are running the asylum

Woman jumps from burning building in London riots

It has been impossible to escape the terrible news unfolding on our television screens this last few days. London (and now other cities in England) are under siege. It is as much a mystery to me, as it is to the media, the police and the politicians, as to why the riots have suddenly sprung up all over the place and how to stop them. Living two miles south and east from two of the London locations on fire, I feel a little apprehensive that it could spread to my area too, yet I have faith that the people around me are decent, law-abiding folk and would be just as shocked as I am at what is happening. So why is at happening in other areas? Why, as the police are saying, are these events on this scale unprecedented in recent history?( Not since World War Two have there been so many fires at once in London.)

First, I think it is fair to say that most of the rioters and looters look little more than teenage kids. My supposition is that, with it being the school summer holidays, these so-called kids are fired up with drugs, drink and boredom and seeking extra kicks elsewhere. Lord knows, alcohol is readily available 24 hours round the clock and drugs can be bought easily, if you know the right places. So are drink and drugs the cause? Or are they fighting the establishment, their parents, anybody, just because they can? Is it because of the internet (with sites such as Twitter and Facebook) that has facilitated their assembly in strategic places and stirred them to man the barricades? Is it because they are poor and are making a stand?

It might be some or all of these things but I think the greatest reason is none of these. What makes us human, and differentiates us from other animals, is an ability to use our brains to work things out and to empathise with other people. When we don't have that ability we revert to being animals and I am afraid to say it, but that looks like what is happening here. These kids are feral and are part of a society that is feral, out of control and out for what they can get. No thought-processes about what they are doing to innocent people caught in the crossfire (setting fire to others' homes and livelihoods). The education system has let them fall through the net. Teachers are too jaded and scared to punish, if not bogged down by ridiculous politically-correct guidlelines; parents too busy to parent their children, so they don't even know what their little darlings are up to in the evenings or where they are.

I certainly don't have all the answers, although right now I could suggest a few, but I sure hope that once the Prime Minister has sat down to the emergency Cobra meeting this morning and sorted out the immediate problems, he gives some serious thought to some of the issues above. As a nation, we have been too lax with our laws (introducing some that clearly should never have seen the light of day); made decisions better not made (relaxing licensing hours for one); too soft with our children, we as their elders have not been allowed to show what is right and wrong for fear of being politically incorrect; and we have simply grown away from loving our neighbour. There is a sort of mentality of "If there is nothing in it for me, then why bother?" (I am by no means saying all young people are like this - I know only too well that Kay and millions like her have been brought up to consider other people.) It is time for change but back to old values. Sorry, but, for what it's worth, I happen to think New Labour got it entirely wrong and now we are paying a very high price.


Working Mum said...

Watching the riots on the news made me think of the riots of the 80s - Conservative government, haves and have nots, unemplyment, redundancies, strikes and high taxes - sound familiar?

I'm not sure what motivates people to behave in such a lawless way, but a lack of self esteem combined with a lack of sense of community and responsibility certainly seem to go some way to explaining what is happening here.

And what is the rest of the world thinking of this mess when we are hosting the Olympics next year? I actually said to my husband that I'm glad we didn't get tickets for any London events. Are potential visitors going to be wary of attending the Games if the police are powerless to control the masses?

All very depressing.

Nota Bene said...

I couldn't agree more with your last two sentences in particular.

Dan the Mountain Man said...

It is a shame that they are turning to setting fires and riots. These actions do nothing to make the changes they claim they want. It only makes things worse for them and others.

Kelloggsville said...

Labour funded many projects to help these poorer areas. As far as I can see no matter what helping hands they are offered they bite the hand that feeds them and expect more. But a lawyer for many of those arrested today said they were from varied backgrounds. Gradutes, graphic designer, employed people just joining in. The EDL 'protests' were the same as were the student protests and football hooligans. These are people that enjoy violence, it's like a sport to them. It's not necessarily drug fuelled. I had a friend whose husband (a high powered manager) was involved in organised hooliganism every Saturday. He went to prison. It isn't hard to get the underprivileged kids drawn into it and off it pops. We will all end up paying for it. In a way the big society is the right way to go to rebuild community responsibility.

Alice said...

so succinct...this should be published in 'opinion' page in sunday times...brilliant...cannot add to it..

hope you are wll...

luv 'alice'


Flowerpot said...

Very good post Addy - and I do agree about going back to old values. What an amazing image too...

Linda said...

I don't know much about the politics in Great Britain, but I do know that this reminds me of Berkely, CA in the 60s. Students running amok -- wanting to change the gov and make a difference. I couldn't fault the cause, but I could fault the method.

With the problems we are facing in the USA and all over the world -- it very much feels that a change is coming. It is unsettling.

DogLover said...

It seems to be assumed that the violence was caused or encouraged by people who want change (of some unspecified and probably impossible sort). They may be present and may have started marches intended to be peaceful, but I think such marches were hijacked by evil men and foolish youths, who represent a very small percentage of the otherwise sensible and law-abiding population.

These latter people are responsible for the trouble at soccer matches in which they have little interest and in other spheres of violence. It is violence for violence's sake and let's enjoy destroying things and frightening people.

There are probably the many causes you list, Addy. I am as mystified as anyone else, but part of it, I believe, is because for many years now there has been emphasis on rights, not on responsibilities: "Give me, I'm entitled".

And your last blog was all about beautiful Venice!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

'mentality of "If there is nothing in it for me, then why bother?"'

Very poignant post. I'm following the riots in awe. Hoping to gain insight from those of you there, but I see you are equally in awe.

Although as I talked with my 19 year old tonight, seems we are headed for changing times. (We were watching a movie from the 60s and I was explaining all that was happening - civil rights, women's lib, birth control, war, great music, passionate people.)

Should be interesting in this age of want.

Anonymous said...

I haven't really commented on the riots though I've seen a lot of posts about them. I think the lack of respect for elders has a lot to answer for, but as many parents of these kids couldn't care less where their children are, what hope is there for the child?

It's easy to call them thugs and other names that are being branded about on Twitter and Facebook, but unless those powers-that-be get to the root of the problem, this will never go away.

Too little education, too little money spent, too little discipline in our schools also has a lot to answer for.

CJ xx

Anonymous said...

p.s. something I did actually say on Twitter last weekend was "bring in the army" and I was immediately unfollowed by someone I've know a long time just because she didn't agree. But these teenagers who are out of control think they are "hard" "tough" "invincible".

Perhaps the time has come to bring back national service - ship all these so-called hard nuts to Afghanistan and bring home our wonderfully brave soldiers to their families, where they belong.

CJ xx

Spencer Park said...

I saw shops on fire in Birmingham. Scary times indeed!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Addy we need to throw out the PC text book and get back to good honest work practices don't we? But will the "bleeding liberals" allow that? No, they are already trashing the idea that we should listen to Bill Bratton who was instrumental in sorting out crime in LA, Boston and NY. God help us!

If the majority of crime is being committed while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, then drugs and alcohol are the problem! Lets treat the causes of crime! It ain't rocket science.