Thursday, 11 August 2011
I'm not going to write much about the London riots as I think we need to move on, and there are people who are in a much better position than I am to discuss the issues- these are the two articles from The Independent and The Telegraph that sum up many of my own thoughts. I was in Hackney on Monday when everything started kicking of, and it was truly frightening.Over the past few days I've felt scared, saddened, angry, but most of all ashamed. Ashamed that the last few generations of society have let things get to this point, ashamed that its taken this for me to volunteer for an underprivileged kids' charity though I've known for ages that it's something I should do.
Before you start writing angry comments about how nothing justifies the behaviour we've seen, acknowledging that there are deep rooted reasons this has happened is NOT the same as excusing it.Obviously this is criminal behaviour, and yes I do agree that there is probably no more noble sentiment in most of the rioters' minds than greed, materialism and a lust for violence,but its our responsibility as the educated to look at WHY we have a whole sector of society that is inclined to behave in this way. The term 'sheer criminality' has been tossed around by politicians as if people are either born with this tendency or not, with David Cameron going as far as to say that this is 'sheer criminality, pure and simple'. This is ANYTHING but pure and simple, with a multitude of economic, racial, social and political reasons that this has happened.Hackney, particularly, is a part of town that is having money poured into the Olympics projects-but will any of these kids get be part of the games?Or even attend?Hell, even I can't afford tickets!People were surprised when the rioting spread to areas like Gloucester, but I have honestly never lived in any towns with greater social divides than Cheltenham and Oxford. Rioters there live just miles away from some of the most expensive schools in the country, and with the rise in tuition fees, we are only increasing the gap between those who can afford further education and those who cannot.
Another thing thats really bugged me over the last few days has been the placing of blame on social media, from both politicians and the media itself. I honestly think that a lot of the spokespeople genuinely don't understand the difference between blackberry messenger and twitter and probably think its all part of the same thing, but at the end of the day, twitter is not evil, neither are phones but both are tools with which the dark side of people can come out.They are also however, tools which can show people's good side too, as with the Riot clean-up efforts. I very nearly wrote a blog post about how the internet brings out the best and the worst in people during the couple of days of Amy Winehouse and Norway news; people jumping at the chance to make self righteous statements about how mourning one woman is inappropriate when so many were dead in the tragic incident in Norway.As usual people are massively simplifying things and insulting everyone's intelligence; we ARE able to care about more than one thing at once. I am able, right now, to be equally horrified by famine in Africa as I am by the riots in London. Sometimes these things are just too big for 140 characters.Or a blog post, really.So I'll stop now, I just wanted to put my thoughts down before this became a part of history.I sincerely hope you are all safe and well, please do think about volunteering for Kids Company or somewhere similar if you have any time to spare.