Posted on August 12th, 2011
At the end of what can only be described as a truly horrific week I am feeling exhausted after experiencing fiercely strong emotions and feelings towards my country as I watched it being destroyed by riots, death and destruction and looting. My mind has been working overtime, trying to make sense of it all. Trying to figure out what message these people were trying to convey and what part we have all played in such an apparently sudden breakdown in law, order and societal values.
As politicians now grapple with who is to blame – was it the previous or current government? Was it those who spent like there was no tomorrow or those who are trying to claw it all back? I don’t profess to know the answers and at the end of the day this type of debate, no matter how lively, will not solve what is so obviously now a problem. There is a growing divide in England, between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ that is creating a culture of instant gratification and greed and has led to young people making such comments about this week’s riots as, “It showed the rich that we can do what we like”. Did it really?
Why did these people want to show the ‘rich’ that an Age Concern ambulance could be set alight and destroyed? What was the point in showing the ‘rich’ that deploying so many Police to tackle the riots meant that necessary mental health assessments requiring Police presence could not be undertaken? What did the young mother of a 4 year old show to the ‘rich’ when she left her child to go out and steal? What message did these people want to give to the ‘rich’ about the deaths of a pensioner trying to put out a fire and the three men in Birmingham trying to protect their local businesses?
Have these people succeeded in showing the ‘rich’ that as a direct result of their actions they have increased the number of unemployed by destroying business and places of work? Have these people succeeded in showing the ‘rich’ that as a direct result of their actions they have increased homelessness in England due to setting people’s homes on fire?
If the intention was to make the ‘rich’ sit up and take notice then this belief was misplaced. The actions of the rioters, looters whatever you want to call them wont stop Colleen Rooney from taking next months holiday and it wont stop the top bankers receiving ridiculous bonuses.
What it is likely to show the ‘rich’ is that the Social Work student caught in the riot will not now be able to pursue a Social Work career. The ‘rich’ are likely to see the classroom mentor and teaching assistant lose their jobs in a primary school. The young woman who abandons her child in favour of rioting and stealing a pair of trainers is likely to be seen by the ‘rich’ as an unfit mother. And the parent who allows their primary school age child to become involved in such dangerous night time activity can only be seen by the ‘rich’ as failing to parent.
The irony of these people’s assertion that they ‘showed the rich’ lies in the fact that one of the people involved in the rioting and looting was the daughter of a wealthy business man. This begs the question – Who was she showing that she can do what she likes?