Last night was the third night of unrest and rioting on British streets. London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham city centres have been affected. Local people have had their honest burnt, shops have been looted and people and businesses hurt. Last night a man died having been shot in a car. Today on the local news there is talk of the rioting moving a lot closer to home. Yes it might be on our doorstep.
What is it all about.? The scenes are shocking and so is the terror and distress experienced by those living and working in the area. People are talking of bringing the army in, using water cannons to disperse the rioters. The Government talk of stringent measures and upholding the full force of the law. Crime and Punishment is alive and kicking with a petrol can it its hand.
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The politics of recession, race and poverty cannot be ignored. The trigger event was the death of a young man shot by the police earlier this week and a peaceful pritestwhich got out of hand / was exploited by those with an axe to grind or a thirst for violence. We have seen this before when recession and cuts impact most on those with the least.
And yet. Violence and struggle have always been one wing of the movement of dissent. Whether it be small direct action groups, rebellion and riot or civil wars. But in the middle of it all lives get torn apart. people get hurt. Die. Lose their livelihoods or their playground, their school or the corner shop. Communities hunker down, batten the doors and stay inside. No-one wants to live in fear.
Know where your kids are. Know what matters to them and what they have to say. Find ways to hear their voices.
Hear Cammila Batmangelidh who works with kids on the streets of London every day,
f this is a war, the enemy, on the face of it, are the “lawless”, the defenders are the law-abiding. An absence of morality can easily be found in the rioters and looters. How, we ask, could they attack their own community with such disregard? But the young people would reply “easily”, because they feel they don’t actually belong to the community. Community, they would say, has nothing to offer them. Instead, for years they have experienced themselves cut adrift from civil society’s legitimate structures. Society relies on collaborative behaviour; individuals are held accountable because belonging brings personal benefit. Fear or shame of being alienated keeps most of us pro-social.
please read this and pray for peace on our streets.
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I can’t just let this pass me by. And although I rarely use this blog to make a political statement today I will.
Love is what matters. Love is all. If we don’t have love we are nothing. Love doesn’t judge. It is kind and compassionate. Love means appreciating the light in each human being. Recognising the divine within us all. Love is a meeting of minds, a connection of spirit, a hand held in the dark. Love is the tenderness for a child, the hug of a friend, the bittersweet of an aging parent. Love may mean being able to share your life with one special person or with many. Love is about intimacy and sharing the spiritual, physical and emotional magic that comes from committment. Love is for all of us. Spirit does not count whether we are gay, lesbian, transsexual or straight, black or white, disabled or not, religious or not.
You may have friends, parents, children, lovers who are gay. If they were in Uganda they could be killed for their sexuality.
I am very lucky. My girl and I were able to celebrate our civil partnership with all our friends and family there. It was a joyous, wonderful, love-filled occasion and spirit was there. What would be lost if that hadn’t happened? Too much to count.
Signing the Register and dancing the night away
The UK has a history of protest and marching that can unite and divide but is never static. Sometimes it can feel as if no-one cares any more and then a protest like today happens that unites hundreds of thousands of people. Todays march in London, organised by the TUC and called ‘March for the Alternative’ was to challenge the current UK coalition Government on their plans to make swingeing cuts in public services. The swell of public feeling in the Capital City today seems to indicate the way in which the UK spirit of supporting the underdog might just be alive and well.
We all know when public services get cut it is the poor, the young, the unemployed and the most vulnerable who get hit the most.Today the UK stood up and was counted and I’m proud of us.I’ve been supporting from my sofa, wearing my badge, wristband and with my mini placards. I’ve tweeted and facebooked and texted Mrs T and a BF who were there in person and checking in all along the way. Its been like having a ringside seat and giving a commentary at the same time.
Today in the local paper I saw that we had lost the fight to save two local swimming pools in the poorest areas of our city. One caters especially for disabled swimmers with a warmer pool, hoist and special sessions. Teachers for the deaf and visually impaired are being cut in local Education services. Those children will no longer be able to access the whole curriculum. Childrens Centres will have their staff and services cut so parents of children under 5 will have nowhere to meet, get support and a cup of tea and parenting help. The list is endless.
Yes it makes me mad.
Ive been sitting here today tracing a line in my head of the ways in which the personal and political make sense to me. From the 70’s feminism latching onto my heart and mind, connecting back to the suffragette sisters, the women who have always been there alongside the men – wives and mothers of the north east, the miners, the pottery workers. Skip to the nuclear weapon protests of the 50;s, 60’s and 80’s Aldermaston and Greenham Common, Faslane, the silent every day protests that still go on. The anti-war movement, Vietnam, the Falklands, Iraq, always more. You could weep with th pain of it, rage at the waste of it, despair at the lessons that repeat and repeat. But the spark, the hope, the stubborn quiet little voice just doesn’t quite go away. Some how there is always that belief that we can make a difference, make things better and that together we are stronger.
Sometimes saying what is in our hearts means standing up to be counted.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 – 1978)