Riots and reading
August 9, 2011
“This is not a typical summer for me nor for much of the world. Instead of launching into the bliss of water and sun-filled days, I am confronted with the various ways the world is crumbling and my own efforts to live and work with integrity in a place of fear, struggle and limited resources (and really, I am not just talking about London).”
Yes, these words are coming against the backdrop of the London riots and all the anger these events have unleashed. The anger that can be seen in the actions of the looters who, spurred on by a tragic event, find reason to destroy the working places and homes of others and their own communities in what appears to be a mad grab for…stuff(clothes and TVs).
And the anger against the rioters, protesters and looters (an unfortunate lumping together of what are very different motives and agonies) for their destruction and anarchy. The material and local violence is horrific—but the loss of hope or any sense of future that underscores this rampage must be acknowledged. I have been reading the news and editorials obsessively- with that energy one gets in times of upheaval when you want the events to make sense: to align and explain.
I am reminded of the myth of fiction: proposing an ordered universe where even the character’s dysfunction or psychopathic tendencies are given cause or root—and how a great deal of the current commentary focuses on WHY the ‘thugs’ are behaving so terribly. I realize I even hesitate in this newsletter to give air to these thoughts, afraid I will trigger outrage by seeking some balance to the prevalent opinion.
But what I have celebrated in the Salon is the ability to engage discussion and divergent opinions on issues that consider what it is to be human…and so I welcome response and disagreement or any opening out of these thoughts.
I am struck by how often in the articles and commentaries the point is made that those involved in the rioting lack any connection to their home communities- which makes this kind of destruction imaginable. I hope- and it is a whisper in chaos–that some how these events will lead to greater dialogue and educational opportunities for this incredible disaffected population. People resort to random violence when their own sense of common humanity is violated; I hear the voices in editorial commentaries calling for greater punishment and revenge. I want people to read and talk to each other.
Below are links to some of the best editorials on the riots: