The riots in the U.K. twelve months out from the London Olympic Games are a something of a salutary tale, for the whole world, particularly in the light of the current ongoing global economic shakings.
In an attempt to reign in national debt the U.K.’s Treasurer at the direction of Prime Minister David Cameron, chose to ‘bravely’ cut costs. Of the services that seemed safest to cut politically (no votes were likely to be lost) were the hundreds of youth centres around the nation. I was in the United Kingdom at the time and every evening on TV young people were heard sayin “ I’m unemployed, I had nothing to with my time, but the youth workers helped me think differently about things. I now help around the community. if you take away the youth centre lots of kids like me will go back to lives of petty crime.” These support programs had lifted young people’s expectations about themselves and their place in the community.
However they were not listened to and we have the current outcome. One young rioter showed reporters standing nearby his iPhone, with a list of the next regions in the UK that were to be the targets. These kids now have a purpose and even something of a community. Both had gone missing for them.
Is what is happening good? No! But it could well be a wake up call for those who have eyes to see.
No doubt there is some body behind it organizing it all, but these kids have gathered and become tribal, having lost their empathy for their own communities that they no longer feel an identification with.
Amitai Etzioni, the man who was Jimmy Carter’s adviser on social policy, said “Western world brace yourself for the anger of the under parented.” Anger is the most normal response to neglect.
The theory that the economic conservatives have, is that to bring economic recovery you cut costs, i.e. government programs, rather than bring in more taxes. The theory is those with money use it to create business and therefore employment.
This theory is twenty years out of kilter with reality. This is clearly seen in big companies making good money in America. They are doing it by outsourcing production to Asia and firing employees. In the board rooms of the Western world there is (with a few precious exceptions ) little concern for local communities. Youth unemployment in the US, and U.K is reaching an all-time historic peak.
These current shakings are likely to be around for at least the next decade. Every Western society is now confronting historic questions about their priorities and values. What will come first, the creation of wealth, or the creation of communities that care for their own; and sufficient resource to make a living out of caring for their own?
There are not many votes to be had, in prisons and psychiatric centres, but then again there is not much joy in an unsafe society.
I seem to remember hearing of somebody who said “You can serve either God or wealth but you can’t serve them both at the same time.”
Yes, the public good requires that the debt be reigned in, and governments like households, have to live within their means.
But what is the purpose of government anyway, I like Abraham Lincoln’s take on it. He said, ”The purpose of government is to help people do collectively what they can’t do for themselves. ” In England at the moment, we have a salutary tale. It is clear to see that they have chosen to gain an economy but lost their community. Governments of the world, pay close attention!