We live in interesting times. It’s almost always more productive to wait for more information rather than just react to a situation and most of today’s blogs, twitters and comments on all media sum that up very frankly. The call for soldiers to augment the police; for water cannon to be used against the 50 or so people that make up each group of rioters; for those people to be murdered by police with live ammunition rather than be arrested and tried; words like chav and nigger being bandied about.
It will take some time to truly understand what these events mean but if we dislike and disapprove of violence then we might consider that our own violence will not help matters. It takes a measure of self control to respond with something beyond violence to events that are so loathsome but there are endless examples of how we might do this, from Socrates to Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who has steadfastly resisted all calls for a soap opera of retribution and rhetoric which serve to diminish of the horror of what has actually happened.
Feeling unheard and ignored means that we feel we have nothing to lose. Whatever the background, people who feel unheard will become more and more extreme until they are heard. We don’t have to agree with or sympathise with people who have burned families and businesses out. But an attempt at empathy helps move us from feelings of revenge and hatred towards an infinitely more positive way of being in the world. As Camila Batmanghelid says today:
“It costs money to care. But it also costs money to clear up riots, savagery and antisocial behaviour. I leave it to you to do the financial and moral sums.”
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