The riots of the past few days in the United Kingdom have shaken the majority of us. Some have spoken about knowing something like this was likely to happen, while most have just been simply shocked, taken by complete surprise at its force, violence and wantonness.
I know I was really shocked, it is one of those moments when time seems to ‘freeze’, like the deer getting suddenly caught in the oncoming car’s headlights, just standing there, transfixed, it hits you with such force. Then suddenly it unfreezes, we somehow absorb this, it somehow passes through us and we move on. We tend to simply go about our daily business but deep down it did have an effect on us but it seems we are not really equipped to do anything about it on the surface. We expect others, in those ‘higher offices’ to understand it and do ‘something’ about it.
We can rationalize it, put the riots down to a few mindless individuals or dispossessed and say to ourselves the vast majority would never do anything like this, so how can these ‘few’ get to this point?
The challenge within Societal Innovation
In this blog, Societal Innovation, we talk of tackling the growing social problems we have within our communities. This last few days we have had presented the starkest of these problems, the growing gaps within society.
Within one of my recent blogs here http://bit.ly/rcMFGq I speak of the importance of communities and mention the four main societal issues and that they are all near you- this week some of those came really close to many.
A massive society challenge has just ‘announced’ itself- some voices I heard this week
Were these riots to do with a frustrated youth who have no real sense of direction or sense of community understanding? I do not fully understand them and why this happened but it does seem it is very deep rooted and been festering inside of society for a long time. This group are in danger of being a lost ‘tribe’ on the periphery of society, constantly coming back and causing this type of sheer, destructive behaviour unless we find better solutions beyond commit the crime and receive punishment as this is always after the event, we need to solve the animosity that is there, before it boils over, as we have just witnessed .
There is a huge social question to be asked here, it is about young people with nothing to lose and seemingly no future? If these groups don’t give a care about their communities, the people within them and mindlessly attack them and their properties, then how are we going to manage this, to cope with it? They seem to care only about themselves. This already is an assumption but it is the start of a working hypothesis perhaps. Then how are we going to engage and resolve this? What can begin to turn this around or are the individuals within this group already lost? How did it get to this point? I’m sure there is many opinions but we do need to move quickly beyond our different opinions and offer ‘inclusion’ not continued ‘exclusion’ on shared terms that draw these groups back into society, into identifying with communities because they want to re-connect before they are lost for good.
Some of the recent comments that struck me with such force
- “Society steals our dignity every day”.
- “Democratic institutions themselves are seen as weak or broken”.
- “Society [education, health and social services] are disembowelled to the point of uselessness”.
- “The sense of entitlement combined with a sense of impunity, together with the oft-observed detachment from any sense of community”
- “There were perhaps groups with no high purpose (as we know it), you just have a sufficient volume of people with a history of anti-society behaviour, having a giant adventure.”
- “Senseless violence and senseless criminality on a scale never witnessed before”
- “It was a crowd discovering their power to steal. Once the crowd melts away its power is gone”
- “Interesting how both a tiny minority of the (filthy) rich, and a tiny minority of the poor and excluded, can ruin things for everyone else”.
- “Morality and respect for the rule of law evaporating in a society where there is so much unfairness and imbalance, and where the government is seen to be actively perpetuating that injustice”.
Where do these different voices in society tell us?
Yes, the riots have given us an awful wake up call; it is the combination of a series of ground shaking events that are really challenging our view of ‘normal’ society that is around us.
We have witnessed the banking crisis that bordered on culpable activity that seemed to be ignored, we have gone through the crisis within our political structure and their expenses. We have reacted with horror at the media and its methods to collect news, the seemingly colluding nature of different parties and the aspect of personal fear. Then that feeling of hopeless of a lack of jobs or that you might be next, constant depressing news from the financial markets, the massive debts we all seem to have racked up and the constant march of jobs and opportunities that keep moving Eastward towards Asia.
It simply just gets too much. Then you get reactions- all sort of reactions, violent ones and illegal ones- that really do challenge us. The voices within us perhaps should be saying “those that are stealing from our society are not just taking our dignity, our values but the promise of a future” and that becomes a serious societal worry.
The riots and financial chaos are telling us much; Elements within society simply ‘push back’, we need to heed these voices how uncomfortable or alien it is, as I do fear, even more voices, yet to be raised, will come in different guises to challenge us even further.