Here at HTC towers, the tweets are rolling in, we’re choking up over images of riot cleanup volunteers, gestures of support for the emergency services (we’re voting that EVERYONE who sees a riot policeman, paramedic or fireman offer them a cup of tea and a thank you on behalf of the city from ANYWHERE! No hesitations!). We’re happy to see that communities pulled together to strive for a peaceful London last night, though now cities in the North of England have faced the deterioration of their livelihoods. Our love, wishes and kisses go out to those affected, and we encourage the uniting of communities like we’re seeing in the aftermath of all of this, and makes us proud to be lucky London ladies.
Yesterday, A Winter Road’s Sid Phoenix wrote a heartfelt plea to rioters. It was met with a stupendous response, and made our blog hits rocket overnight (and counting!).
In a potentially controversial new plea, he is addressing the victims of the London Riots.
An(other) Offer of Perspective.
To the Victims
You are angry. You feel molested and abused. You feel attacked and wronged. You are confused, blindsided, indignant. Your world is being ripped apart at the seams. You are fighting the urge to demand revenge, retribution, punishment. You may be calling for it outright.
You are not alone. You know this. You can see for yourselves the strength and resilience of your community, society, culture, country. You have done what you can to help, you have done what you can to contribute. You have seen the solidarity that surrounds you. You are proud. You should be. You know you are in the right, and you are.
Yet where does the responsibility for this all lie? The individuals perpetrating these acts are children – the argument “old enough to commit the crime, etc” has been used. Many of you agree, but none of you think so simplistically as to believe that the people doing this were born evil. You all know that the issues run deeper than that. You have many, many ideas and suggestions as to the causes of all of this.
We can talk about the problems of parenting, we can talk about youth pregnancy, we can talk about the lack of father (or mother) figures, we can talk about poverty, the welfare state, laziness, a sense of entitlement, lack of employment, people manipulating and feeding off the system, the complete failure of the system. We can talk about all of these things and never once have to take responsibility.
Government is not a parent. Society’s values cannot be taught by government – that is indoctrination. The responsibility for raising children lies with parents, but so often a parent fails – either through their own faults and weaknesses or through their circumstance – and then what? Do we ignore the children? Do we blame the parent? Surely not.
Surely when society as a whole takes responsibility for the behavior of its young as individuals a child cannot have a failed parent. During the extensive time I have spent in Paris I have seen entire tube carriages turn on children for not standing to allow an old woman to sit. If there were no child present any individual would stand, but there is – and the child must learn.
This is a cultural phenomenon by no means restricted to the French, but it is utterly missing from the English. How many times have we been on buses where children are loud, brayish, play music, refuse to stand, throw food on the floor – behavior that we would never tolerate in our children.
They ARE our children. Yet we turn a blind eye – myself included – we pretend we do not see or hear, and so we do not speak.
You may say you are scared, or that you fear retribution. You only fear this because you feel alone. You know that you can stand up in a crowded bus and no one will come to your support. Brave individuals cannot take responsibility for an entire society’s desire to say “I do not want this problem”.
We accuse these people of being greedy, demanding, taking what is not theirs, having no respect for authority, but we have never taught them “no”. We have never made them feel ashamed.
A police officer arresting you does not make you feel ashamed if you have never learnt the shame of crime. It merely makes you feel angry. A busload of people from all walks of life turning on you and demanding that you pick up your drinks can – that is shame. That is more powerful than any number of faceless men and women with batons and shields.
This is a temper tantrum. It is a child desperately demanding its parent’s attention.
It is entirely, unequivocally, and completely our problem. So I beg you to take your earphones out, stand up and raise your young.
Or these problems will never go away, no matter how much money the government gives and takes, or how many advantages it proffers and then removes, or how many freedoms it grants and then denies. The only difference the government will ever make is a child being spoiled or deprived. It will never make a child feel noticed.
Only we can do that. Pay attention. Do not turn away.
For the sake of all of us, help raise your kids.
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