Monday, August 15, 2011

Then I remembered Shane

'That's a very good drawing, Shane,' I said, smiling at him.
He looked at me then tore up his drawing. 'Nah, it's not; it's rubbish.'

* * * * * * * * * * *
Like the majority of the people in this country I've been horrified by the actions of the rioters and looters. I heard a 15-year-old girl being interviewed on the radio. 'It's great fun,' she said, swigging from a bottle of stolen wine. Then realising that she might sound a little shallow she added, 'It's the Conservatives' fault. And the rich people who own businesses.'

Then a woman, a mother was interviewed. 'Well, they haven't got anything in life, have they? They've got to take it.'

I found myself yelling at the radio, 'You stupid idiots! etc etc etc'

Then I remembered Shane.

Shane and his older brother Kevin used to come to Earthquakers, a youth club I helped run in Linden nearly 20 years ago. Shane and Kevin were bad boys, troublemakers, regularly threatened with a ban, but with a well concealed vulnerability. When Shane tore up his drawing I realised how used he must have been to being told everything he did was rubbish and by extension that he was.

I am in no way a Conservative supporter but I don't think you can't blame them directly for the riots, although Maggie Thatcher set the scene with her Me Society. I'm not even sure you can blame government - although I am politically naive - for the mood in the country. Rather I think it's society itself that is to blame.

A society that judges people by the cars they drive, the clothes they wear and the money they have in the bank. When designer labels are the mark of a person's value we have reached a sad state.

The phone hacking scandal was shocking and, yes, the newspapermen and women who authorised it deserve to be punished but they did it because society, the public, we can't get enough gossip and scandal. We can all be righteous in retrospect but how many times have I ignored articles about starving Africans in favour of what the Beckhams did next?

There is no justification for what the rioters and looters did but it suggest that we need to look carefully at our society and how we treat each other, how we ensure individuals know they have worth for who they are.

The last time I saw Shane he was in prison.

I'm not a politician and I don't have very clear thinking; I don't know what the answers are but I do think it begins with us as individuals.


nick said...

Certainly to condemn all the rioters as criminals, as Cameron has, is simplistic in the extreme. Obviously there are deeper reasons why they did what they did, including as you say materialism and Mrs Thatcher's "There's no such thing as society" (and wasn't the ruthless looting and destruction a splendid example of that!). The politicians need to think long and hard about the poor prospects for young people's lives and how they can be improved.

jams o donnell said...

I wish I knew what the answers were too Liz. The Looters should be punished (but I question a six month sentence for a bottle of water).

The root causes need to be determined and addressed - and these are not the soundbite opinions of politicians looking for a quick ratings rise.

What we don't need is knee jerk overreactions to the situation eg shutting down social media sites etc. We're not Iran or China after all!

Leslie: said...

You probably heard about our "hockey riot" that was terrible back in June, but no one has been charged yet. The public is horrified and want those who participated to be properly punished. But they probably will get a slap on the wrist, if anything. It does not bode well for society as a whole if they get away with it, in England or here, because it'll just get worse! It fine and dandy to look into the root causes of such disturbance, but there must be swift justice of some sort.

katney said...

Well stated, Liz. We try so many surface solutions and look for quick and easy explanations of things that run very deep and complicated. It doesn't work that way. (But I am glad it was last year we were in London that particular week of August not this.)

Furtheron said...

Flipping heck - you cut straight through it all with this writing Liz... can you stand for PM? I'd vote for you.

I agree with the decline of society since good old Mrs T told us it was gone in the 1980s and I saw the madness in the City first hand as I worked there from 86 - 91... it was frankly grotesque in places. Labour under Blair / Brown did little to address that problem and it continues today...

The haves have got more and the have nots get less unless they claim benefits (if you believe the press) - I do have a disabled friend and his wife simply doesn't work as she is his full time carer - if she worked it would imply he didn't need full time care and their benefits would plummet... how can that be right?

However to justify the actions the last week or so based on all that is nonsense... I do feel we should instead of giving these youngsters community orders here should ship them out to Africa, India or somewhere and ask them to simply live with people who do truly have nothing and no help ... might change their perception of their level of poverty...

I'll stop I'm off on one again... :-)

Furtheron said...

post script... had to stop that comment it as a rant!!!

I have met people like Shane those who are beaten senseless by those around who should love them. It is so heartbraking - some do get through but it is not easy.

Furtheron said...

post script... had to stop that comment it as a rant!!!

I have met people like Shane those who are beaten senseless by those around who should love them. It is so heartbraking - some do get through but it is not easy.