The London Riots. The Horror

Watching the news was like walking into a wall. At first it seemed surreal; abroad, the home news always seems like a foreign country. Today, it feels like a bad dream.

I am paralysed with anger, and weep with pity at the horror of it all. To watch the scenes of cold-blooded, unleashed egotism is more than I can bear. This is MY city; this is my home.

This is the fragile, futile awful truth; civilisation, with all its concomitant luxuries and prizes, is made of glass; a stone's-throw away from rubble and ruin. All it takes is for someone to throw a stone, and for no one to say no. Last night, and the last few nights, many, many stones were thrown, and bricks, and home made bombs, and battering rams, and fists.

The part that devastates me as a teacher is that they are, seemingly, children; teenagers; gangs. These aren't protestors; these aren't activists; these are bored, opportunistic children. Don't say they're disaffected; don't say they're economically disenfranchised; don't say they are the detritus of a society that doesn't care. They don't care. They are the fruit of a womb where actions have no consequence; where people take what they want; where might makes right; where do what thou wilt shall be the only law. This is the logic, the emotional paradigm of an infant, angry and selfish, allowed to calcify and endure past adolescence. This is reward without sacrifice; this is appeasement without boundary.

This is where justice, compassion and kindness are not; this is the dark side of the moon; this is the opposite of everything you have ever worked for. Don't look through the entrails of burned out buildings, overturned cars and ruined shops, looking for some hidden message or meaning, some augur, some sign, some unifying explanation that makes sense of this. Violence and cruelty and savagery caught like a flame, and a firestorm followed; the violence and darkness that exists within all people, kept low by civility and empathy and society, but allowed now to leap from city to city. Millions, billions of pounds worth of damage; countless more value lost from the intangible economy of the good life. And for what?  A widescreen pasma? A few bottles of Blossom Hill? A fireworks display?

We need kindness; we need love; we need leadership. We need the boundaries redefined and confidence brought back to the streets. We need our government to do the primary job for whcih it is meant to be fit: security, stability and peace.

The horror. The horror.


  1. It's horrible, truly. I've been out on cleanup in Ealing, which got off lightly compared to the others (and only compared to the others - it was still hideous).

  2. I wondered what you might write about this Tom. I don't want to be opportunistic here but I can't help but see some kind of link between behaviour in schools and then outside. Kids have known for some time just how few consequences there are for indulging in "riotous" behaviour in school, and now they are exploring the boundaries that exist beyond the school grounds too. It's frightening.

    O tempora, o (complete lack of) mores...

  3. Really beatifully written. No one is allowed to confront wrong any more, that makes you 'judgemental'. No one is allowed to define wrong anymore, that makes you 'self righteous' and what I'm about to say will probably cause shock and horror and perhaps a stoning but I discovered (and had to fight for) the beauty of staying at home for most of the week in order to create a home for my children. This is a hugely controversial issue because some women can't, some men stay at home but basically the whole concept of creating and working to create a stable home environment in which to raise children is alien and foreign...

  4. @Journal FMD

    Thanks; sometimes there is little point in trying to be liberal and thoughtful about an event- some experiences demand a blunt reaction. Oh, and if the gender rights movement meant anything, it was to allow and empower women to have the choice to raise a home or a career, or anything in between that they chose. Good luck to you.


  5. @ Maths Teacher

    Thanks; I think the answer lies in a broader context; any society that defers from itself the adult responsibility to train children into civil manners will reap the consequence. This isn't specifically a school problem, although schools are part of the process- it is essentially a dynamic between adults and children, or perhaps between adults and how they choose to perceive themselves.

  6. @Julia

    Well done you; wish I could say the same. Wrong time to be outside London...

  7. I'm stuggling to find the right words. To me this is not a gender issue. Children need a stable home environment as they grow and develop and learn about the world. It's a concern of mine that parents today are generally preoccupied and too busy (though granted even if a parent stays at home they can still be too busy for their children). The point I'm trying to make is that the whole idea of working to create a stable home environment is undervalued in our society and as we've watched the home fall apart - we're watching society fall apart....

  8. Ah, now I understand; sorry I misinterpreted your emphasis. Yes, I know some people who have felt the pressure to 'achieve' outside of the home, when what they want to do is raise a family. And I feel sad when people are asked to describe what they do, and say, 'Oh, just a housewife/ dad.' Like it was a poor substitute for a flourishing life, when actually it can be one of the most rewarding parts of one.

  9. That's pretty much what I was trying to say.


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