Violence with Few Answers

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.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
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16 Responses to Violence with Few Answers

  1. I am really glad that someone is thinking along the same lines as me. I am having major debates at work with people who want the children hung drawn and quartered!! I really dislike the term the elitists have given ie “underclass” . The gap between the have and the have nots is so wide this was bound to happen. If you get told you are worthless often enough you begin to believe it and act accordingly.


  2. Cyberian says:

    I can’t agree. As someone who lives in Camden, with plenty of time to scrutinise people and actions around, I feel that most rioters I saw were nothing to with any “underclass” (familiar Camden faces) or ‘chavs’ (metaphor for ‘not like us’)).

    There appeared to be various groups: a core of proto-capitalists filled, no doubt, with a sense of their own power in the emptying streets, plus the desire to grab whatever they could – probably for resale later in “Loot”. Some of these seemed well-organized in groups, with cars and mobiles to direct proceedings. Next came legions of copycats or wannabees, egging themselves on with petty acts of vandalism (overturning bins; throwing bottles at buses) while they plucked up courage to follow suit. Then came the voyeurs – comfortable in appearance – following on with cameras. Weegees with no talent.

    After that, were the cops – scared youth for the most with nightsticks against bricks – wary of being outnumbered. So, where were the “underclass” – the poor, huddled masses yearning to be free? Cowering in their homes, I expect. Frightened and angry. Some hoping they still had a job or workplace the next morning.

    I’ve experienced other riots (Notting Hill in the 70s, LA and Tottenham in the 80s, Brixton in the 90s), but last night seemed different. I don’t feel that these “hooded hordes” were “have-nots”. Most seemed to be opportunists: “have mores” bent on increasing their stash. I hope the police, whom I respect far more now for seeing how tough their role is, come down on them like a ton of bricks (unfortunate image!). If not, it could be a case for self-defence.

    The real have-nots were back on the streets of Camden as usual today. Funnily enough, I didn’t recognize any faces from last night.


  3. Your concern is shared by many–but not enough of us…yet.

    As long as we see each other as different and not alike, we can justify hurting the “other” because the “other” is not like us. The media is very adept at creating “others.” Can we rid ourselves of the media or change the media? I’m exhausted thinking about it…


  4. Katie says:

    I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. If I hear the words ‘disassociated youths’ one more time, I will scream. There were multiple youth workers, group leaders and others who work with these young people saying that what was happening was not down to them being disaffected but due to sheer greed and opportunism.

    Proper punishments, not platitudes and rewards are the only way forward. The only thing the Prime Minister said today that I agreed with was that if they were old enough to be involved in the crimes then they were old enough to be punished for it. I agree wholeheartedly.

    We have allowed our society to evolve to the stage where these kids realise that there is no punishments any more for misbehaviour. Schools have no control, parents have little control and teachers none. The police are seen as the enemy not law enforcement and it is time this stopped. Now, before it gets even more out of hand.


  5. Barbara says:

    The saying, ‘Misery loves company’ comes to mind. I truly feel your pain. We are so totally disconnected in the U.S. that we’re killing the middle class. It is blasphemy to suggest the top 2% on the food chain should pay a higher percentage of taxes, yet fine to cut programs that keep these kids off the streets. It makes no sense.
    I agree with Katie about dispensing punishment, but in the end that just fills our correction facilities with children who will likely never contribute in a positive way to society for the rest of their lives. Who wins? No one! With the exception of the top 2%. Although… I do believe in Karma… you get what you give. I just hope I live long enough to see it!


  6. Big Al says:

    Katie, you nailed it. We get to experience this in this country on a regular basis when “flash mobs” invade and loot a store in broad daylight.

    Excusing this behavior as due to the disparity in social status makes no sense. Since time began there have been haves and have nots, our generation did not invent this concept. This wanton violence was not acceptable then and is not now. It is up to us to see that the rule of law is enforced for our generation. If we continue to pass down this apologetic attitude it will only get worse.

    Having said that, I offer my sincere condolences to countingducks and those in London who are suffering under this misplaced anger.


  7. It is a disgrace how the police are treating these criminal’s, watching as they loot and burn and then they charge and then retreat, what the hell are they playing at.

    Then the home sec; come’s on TV and say’s we can’t use water cannon or rubber bullet’s we talk to the people, she’s crazy, these people don’t want to talk.

    Do as they do over here, get the cannon and bullet’s out, AND USE the bloody baton’s that’s why they have them, crack a few skull’s put people in hospital.

    The Gov; need’s to set up boot camp’s run by the para’s or marine’s to sort out these, no good, lazy, lay about’s and teach them some moral’s and manner’s.

    I’m tried after ranting that long, away for a lay down.


  8. Caroline says:

    I believe ‘we’ have created a society where swathes of society see it as their right to have what others have – even if the others work and they don’t. People have lost their dignity through hand-outs. We have – maybe (and I am saying this for debate) allowed the handouts to come too freely.

    I have travelled a great deal in some very poor parts of Africa where the have nots have nothing – no handouts – nothing but what they grow and work for. And yet there is a level of dignity I don’t see here in how they live their lives and how they live in their communities. Respect for each other and each others possessions. And gosh to their children work at school! They arrive clean and smart having walked miles to get there and they work as they know they have to.

    I don’t have any answers. But I do know our ‘have-nots’ have a lot more than other countries. There will always be gaps in society between the very rich, the rich, the well off, the not so well off and the poor. We are lucky in this country – we do have a welfare state. It must remain to help those in need. That is a given. And I don’t expect those on it to say thank you. But I do know if everyone in this country started out with £1000 each it wouldn’t take long for us to be back with the same numbers of Haves and Have nots – and with the same gaps.

    I believe some tough action is now needed


    • Katie says:

      I am, through no fault of my own, one of those using the benefits system. I am still trying to find out exactly what ‘handouts’ we unemployed get, because £65 a week sure isn’t much of one. I do say thank you, but then, I have worked for the last 30 years.

      I certainly agree with the tough action. Unfortunately, it seems those that can make that happen do not agree. Such is life…


      • Caroline says:

        I didn’t mean to get at you. I too have had a time on benefits when unemployed and it is no fun at all. It just seems to me that some people seem to manage to get so much more – often having never worked at all – and yet are dis-satisfied with their lot. And as you point out you’ve worked for 30 years


  9. Dawne Webber says:

    I’m so sorry for the tragedy you’re experiencing over there. My prayers are with you all.


  10. I believe there is a huge disconnect in our society. We are no longer focusing on the little things in life, no one seems to question ethics, or values? How can we live in a society that places no expectations on its youth? Or allows another to place the blame of their actions instead of owning up and being accountable? I have no answer to these questions…

    But I do get upset when I see riots occur by these flash mobs. I wonder if any of them are capable of a rational thought? If not how are we to evolve as a just and good society? I have so many questions and never any answers.

    Again, thank you for writing another thought provoking post!


  11. The T says:

    Kids, teens, miscreants out of control…. when it comes down to it, all of us in our younger days have been pulled to the dark side, but it was our background and discipline from our parents who pulled us back to middle ground… the youth of today have little parental restraint in thier lives and when mixed with a toilsome opportunity to let their frustrations vent against the rising unemployment and illegal immigration, sometimes their frustrations get the best of them…

    We, as a civilized society, need to realize there are costs to our lazy methods of handling our youth. We must teach them restraint both in thier attitude and their actions. Takes hard work to get a child to walk the more prudent line…this day and age, the word prudent is barely understood by any teen I talk to…

    Sad…simply sad…



  12. eof737 says:

    I couldn’t have said it better… the evens in London and elsewhere in the UK have made me very sad… Like you, I pray that part of the recovery process would include additional services for the poor and downtrodden…


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