In recent days the mood of the nation has nosedived as images and footage of the riots in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Bristol has been shown around the world. I, for one, and sickened and ashamed at what I have seen, heard, and read.
It is clear to anyone with the smallest amount of intellect that the riots, looting, and burning of buildings have nothing whatsoever to do with any protest at all. These thoughtless acts of violence are nothing more than the work of cowardly opportunists who have their own agendas, and who seek to help themselves rather than anyone else. I have no doubt that a many of the individuals involved in all the disturbances were incited to do so by these people (and I use the word in its loosest form). There have been reports of a lot of the rioters being young teenagers - impressionable people, who saw it all as a laugh or a game.
I heard an interview with two teenage girls who were bragging about the rioting, and this sentence confirmed a lot of my suspicions:
"It's the governments fault..........whoever that is. (Conservative) yeah, Conservative"
They blame the government for the state of the country - but couldn't tell you who the government is. They take no interest in who is running this country, and (from their attitude) could likely have been two of the many people who didn't bother to vote at the last Election. They might not be old enough to vote, but there are many people with the same attitude who are eligible to vote and chose not to. Well, I'm sorry - if you don't vote, you don't have a voice. You can't complain about a system that you had no interest in choosing when the opportunity was presented to you.
I also saw a TV clip where a young woman - possibly around 16 - 18 years of age - was saying that the reason people rioted was because they got no respect from the Police, and so they don't respect the police. You earn respect - you don't automatically become entitled to respect just because you exist. And in my opinion, the Police earn their respect by having to face dangerous situations and individuals on a day to day basis that most ordinary people would not want to face. Just as all the emergency services get respect, and I mean emergency services all over the world. One of the most memorable images I've seen of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was of a fireman making his way up the stair well of one of the buildings while everyone else was running down to get away. They put their lives on the line to save others, knowing that they themselves might die. If someone told you that there was a person in a building that needed your help, but that you might die in trying to help them, how many of us would still go and try and help that person. The emergency services do that, each and every day. THAT earns respect. Paramedics who fight to save someones life - no matter what their sex, colour, religious beliefs, social standing, disability, whatever the person they are treating are. Everyone gets treated the same. THAT earns respect. And the everyday people in the street, the people reading this right now - how do we earn respect? By conducting ourselves in a civilised, and respectful manner. Unfortunately, you have to make the first step - you have to give respect to get respect. I know it's a shit deal, but there's nothing free in this life which is worth having.
It appears that the majority of the young people today have no respect. I know that there are many young people that do have respect and conduct themselves accordingly, but these I fear are the minority.
And where does the blame lie? With the parents? Certainly to a degree - there is a famous phrase "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree", and it is true - children from a very early age are influenced by their parents. As they get older, other influences come along - there are many more influences now than when I was a child - but if the basic lessons of right and wrong are not taught in the home, then the acceptance of their bad behaviour is missing from the child's mind. If no-one cares enough to tell you that what you are doing is wrong, then why should you care? I personally think that the blame also lies with the individual. Young people are far more intelligent and aware than they are given credit for, and so the knowledge of right and wrong is there, but the moral grasp is missing or muted.
There is a lack of responsibility too. As I mentioned today, people know extremely well what their rights are. In fact I believe that "Human Rights" is now used to protect the criminal rather than the victim. That for me, is total nonsense - and I will go as so far as to say that in my opinion, if a person chooses to break the law, then he / she automatically forfeits all human rights. On the TV last night I saw a shop burning down that had been in the owner's family for 5 generations. Where were his Human rights? Today on YouTube, I saw a video of a young man who was bleeding badly, be helped to his feet by a group of youths, who then stole the contents of his rucksack. Where are his human rights? The shopkeepers who found groups people smashing up their livelihoods - where are their Human Rights? There are too many "do-gooders" around, who worry about upsetting the wrong people, while the innocent suffer.
There is clearly a lot wrong in this country, and I do not know how we make it right. I do think that we have been too soft for too long on many aspects of society, and that a clear message should be sent out that those who break the law will have to pay the consequences. We need tougher sentences, higher fines (and if you can't pay a fine, your possessions are taken as payment). People need to know that they are accountable for their actions, and if need be, examples need to be set.
Tonight, London and other cities around the UK are bracing themselves for another possible night of violence. As I type this, it might already be starting. All of this began after the shooting of a man in Tottenham, London last Saturday by police. None of the riots, looting, or arson have anything to do with that incident.
The comments above are purely my opinion. I have not been able to voice them as eloquently as I had hoped. I am aware that just because I have the right to voice them, it doesn't make them right, and I am sure that many people will not agree with some or all of them. Nonetheless, they are my opinion.
I hope the madness we have witnessed over the past few days ends soon, and I hope that all communities can start working together to rebuild today's lives and build better lives for the future.