Riot of Reactions

I am sure you have opinions about the very unsportsmanlike behaviour of some of the folk in our country; I would hope so. Civilisation depends on it.

If a certain social networking site I belong to is anything to go by, the reactions of 400 of my associates indicate that everyone is rather strongly against the rioting taking place in London and elsewhere. But the reasons vary. Some are concerned for friends. Some are grateful for mercies and new addresses. Some want the army to come back from wherever it is they are and show ’em. Some think parents are to blame. Some think society is to blame. Many want to take positive action – a collective 8:30 pm cup of tea or a community street clean up or messages to support the emergency services. Several have found humour in the situation (what – Suffolk Police going down to the capital? Do they know the way?) No one thinks the politicians have the answer.

Sadly, many of us are not all that surprised. Angry teenagers with a grudge, a bit of time and nothing to do don’t need much persuading to do stupid things. And it is not only teenagers who are at fault: among the 32 who’ve already gone through court were: “a graphic designer, college students, a youth worker, a university graduate and a man signed up to join the army. Some gave non-London addresses.” Full story here.

A thought I had – a dangerous one at that – was that in this country we have the freedom to riot. Think what that means. A cost to the economy. Danger to life. Idiocy celebrated. But when push comes to shove and twits turn #aboutface there are things to burn and people to hurt and a case to make to shock the civil. Rioting is an option. We have taught our children to be themselves, to achieve the distinctive, that the sky is the limit and they can have any bargain they can get your hands on. And then we have chained them into a nanny state where these things are not really available unless you comply with the system or are really extraordinary. Unrealistic expectations cause stress and set people up to fail. Or maybe set society up to riot.

Yes, we can make our case using humour, politics, organised rallies, online voting, phone-ins and on walls of public conveniences, but in the UK it is generally a lot safer to riot than in many other places. In Libya, Syria, Burma or China to disagree with the government is really not on. At all. If you appreciate your neck bone’s connection to the head bone. Etc. Please don’t think I support rioting. In this week’s context it is unjustifiable. In previous times we learnt the hard way by not knowing when to react.

There is so much more to say here. The reasons for the rioting. Is something generating each generation in our country to feel so angry they want to hit out. The strength of reaction. The sadness of lost creativity and economy. The confusion of arson. The greed of those with no backbone. The recklessness of disrespect. The price of it all. The perils of technology. The choice of what to damage (any schools, sports venues or religious establishments?)

No doubt we will be adding it all up for some time. We will all have opinions. Some shocked and dissident countries may boycott our Olympics. If it means more medals for us, perhaps some of the looters will be happy. Assuming they were part of the elite or the lucky who got tickets, that is. Trade you in a 50″ plasma screen, no questions asked?

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