Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The English Riots

Tonight could be another night of violence across England, as a portion of my fellow countrymen and women decide whether or not to feed the growing tide of rioting, arson and looting. There are many ways of painting what's going on: an oppressed and unheard underclass acting out their anger? Materialism gone rampant? A statement against Capitalism? A profession of love for Capitalism?
If I am disgusted at the level of consumerism evident in these acts, then I'd best be sure to check out my own desires: am I really desireless? If I am surprised by the levels of thoughtlessness shown, then I ought to recognise my own capacity for such thoughtlessness.
If we as a country are surprised that people will commit violence and engage in looting, perhaps we had better check the culture that we surround ourselves with, the endless adverts, films and games which promote the acquisition of goods, and which promote violence as a justifiable tool.
None of this is the same as saying that these acts are blameless. To say that someone is purely at the mercy of their environment is to patronise them, and rob them of their human quality. But at the same time as seeking "justice", we have to ask: what have we done to minimise hatred, materialism, and violence?
Be cool Englanders, be cool...

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