Like everyone else, we are watching the television aghast at the scenes spreading across the country. With Twitter promoting the "Hug a Hoodie" tag and others referring to these youths as "looting scum" and a tiny minority, feelings are running high and given the apparent lack of police protection my biggest concern was the call for vigilante type protection of private property, and a call for communities to "go out and stand up to these scum".
What sickened me most was the youths helping up an injured man whilst simultaneously emptying his rucksack. These people clearly have lost all sense of respect for others, all sense of respect and identity for themselves. But what they also are is a product of our society. Everything from immigration policy, taxation, cheap imports, easy credit, education policy, unemployment, housing - they have all contributed to the scenes we are currently witnessing. Minority or not, these people are currently a force to be reckoned with on our streets and we are struggling to contain this criminal behaviour. That is, after all, what it is - as the government are keen to stress. Any "message" they want to send the government or country was drowned with the indiscriminate aggression, petrol bomb and brick attacks on police and the complete ignorance of those wishing to say something who chose to speak through violence against those they should identify with, share a community spirit with and feel some sense of respect for.
But despite the message being drowned, we should start listening. Paying attention to those the majority of us never notice or acknowledge. I do NOT condone the violence, I do certainly think this rioting needs crushing fast and by whatever appropriate means required but to ignore the underlying causes would be a terrible mistake. I'm not talking about recent "cuts" which is a convenient scapegoat, this goes much much deeper.
I believe there is little sense of community in most towns and cities now. Families are so dispersed, everyone working long hours... ridiculous levels of political correctness in a society walking a tightrope in an attempt to enforce law and order in fear of the media's savage condemnation. And whilst national pride can be a terrible thing it is also necessary to a degree - or community pride. "Rights" (which I am SICK of hearing about) should be tempered with a sense of responsibility and the expectation that the government should always pick up the pieces. We have allowed social, racial and political hatred to blossom for fear of condemnation and positive discrimination thrives.
Let's get this straight, I do support the cuts, (most of them) and some of the attempts to get the current deficit down. We cannot afford to go the way of Greece and Spain, and the recent market volatility demonstrates the danger of downgrading of our credit-rating by any threat of defaulting on that debt. It is essential to see the "bigger picture" for the benefit of the many. But it is a heartless person who fails to acknowledge the individual struggling to be part of that "bigger picture". Yes "Big Society" *should* be more supportive, it is a commendable ideal - but at present that is honestly all it is. And without some serious grass roots change that is all it is likely to be. Short-termist opportunism on the part of far too many politicians so far removed from the world of those on the streets this week has placed a deep divide in society.
You might say there has always been a divide but it has changed in nature. The less well-off were always proud to be British, usually active in their communities and shared a sense of responsibility for each other and everyone else.
This seems to have been replaced in the hearts of many by a crazy, naiive hatred of those who have by some who don't which has largely happened due to the "ghettoisation" of these sink estates. They are so blinkered... someone who is working hard and making good (often from very deprived backgrounds too) is seen as a target for jealousy, even if it were someone from the same locality. Regulated wealth creation can only benefit everyone to a degree, but what is a long term "bigger picture" to someone so disenfranchised from the rest of society.
Instead of handing out benefits to the young, we should have them coupled with community tasks, payment for helping out. No - change the entire system so those unable to get a job independently can receive a minimum wage for a community-based task. It's the thin end of the wedge - but it's a start. Put some pride back in our communities, tag "responsibility" onto the "rights" people keep talking about. These riots should be dealt with swiftly and firmly. There is never an excuse for that kind of behaviour.... but maybe there is a reason and that reason needs someone to take notice, before what is left of our society disintegrates even further.