Looking around me at the world I inhabit with eyes and mind informed by the news of the day I am once more reduced to shaking my head. In London, near where I live a series of looting and riots has transformed the normally quiet streets of certain boroughs into scenes more normally associated with Libya or some other troubled region of the world.
As I said to my partner. One thing I am absolutely sure of is that our children are not part of the mob. This is because their characters and the nature of their upbringing preclude such activity. This is true for the vaste majority of people whom I know or do not know. Through my work, and the internet I have been continually struck by how much nicer people are than is commonly portrayed in many novels or the news. Away from the extremes, decent people, who make up the vast majority of the population, struggle on in their ordinary lives to build their homes and communities while instilling the values of respect and social awareness in their children.
The question I ask myself is how can this happen. For a time in my teens my mother lived on a small Island off the coast of Britain. Everyone knew everyone else. Nobody had to lock their houses or their cars and order was maintained because there were no strangers there: a community in the full sense of the word kept everyone protected and nourished throughout their lives.
In cities things are very different. Many people can live almost anonymous lives exploring aspects of their nature which are better left ignored, safe in the knowledge that no one is interested enough in them to bother with what they do. Failing to cope with the stress of hanging on to the bare minimums of life some people are so stretched or traumatized by events that they lose all control over themselves and their children, leaving them to lead a feral existence on the streets. They find other outcasts with whom to build a new community of the dispossessed and excluded. To think this is not to condone ,in any way what they have done, but only to wonder how people in such numbers could drift so far outside our social norms that they consider their actions to be normal or justifiable.
This problem has become so pronounced that under the slightest provocation these heirs to an unfortunate and unloved future rise up and vent their frustrations on what they see as an uncaring society of which they have no part. We are not talking about a few criminals and vandals here. Sadly the numbers of such people probably runs into the hundreds of thousands. These scenes will continue to blight our world until some way is found to make the community and countries in which we live more inclusive and involved than it currently is.
I have no answers to these questions expect to say that unless these children feel a part of the community in which they live, they will continue to wreak vengeance on what they see as an indifferent world. I pray a better future for them and us is not beyond our grasp.