A Riot, A Right or A_Narchy? (15/8/11)

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Kapil’s Khichadi
(Twitter: @kdudakia)

A Riot, A Right or A_Narchy?

‘The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility’ (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Some came out stating that the riots were no more than just a bunch of looters hell bent on stealing and destroying property. Others came out shouting that it’s all to do with cuts and depravation. However the majority in the middle were left in utter bewilderment, for what they had witnessed just did not make any sense.

So let’s get the basics out of the way first. Is rioting right? Answer NO. As Martin Luther King said, rioting may well give a temporary feeling of power – but in the end, it’s a process that is self defeating.

It seems to me that over the past several decades, and under governments of all colours, we have witnessed the wholesale and wanton destruction of family values, human values, personal and social morality, and the total lack of any respect for any of our institutions. The country is basically going morally bankrupt.

It is easy to blame poverty, a lack of education, poor housing, the lack of life opportunities and so on. I am certain that all of these are important, and do impact many of us. However, do they represent a real reason for taking part in a riot and in acts of criminality? I have to say, I am not sure anyone can accept such a proposition. The right to protest is very different to someone wanting to riot.

We see and witness the breakdown of values, not just in those who live at the extremes of society, but lest we forget we have seen educated journalists who thought it was perfectly ethical to hack phones and publish private stories. We have witnessed some in the Police who believed it was perfectly moral to sell confidential information. We have even seen our elected politicians who thought it was moral and ethical to make a killing on their expenses claim. What do we think of our Prime Ministers’ moral compass when he knowingly allowed a person with a suspect background to be his Head of Communications? Or the soldier who has served in Afghanistan and was caught handling stolen goods after the riots?

Lack of morality and values is therefore not purely a function of one’s poverty or one’s education. Do remember one of the rioters turned out to be working in a primary school, and another was a daughter of a millionaire. Now how do we make sense of that?

Let us be clear, when someone riots to steal a designer trainer, a hoodie or a TV – what exactly are they protesting about? And for those who would like to ‘hug a hoodie’, might I suggest a re-think.

Love for one’s country is not confined to singing raucous songs on terraces when England plays football, rugby or cricket. The role and responsibility of each citizen now needs revisiting. In the words of Reuben Blades, ‘I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.’

Much needs to be done over the next few decades. The most important being a national reformation on morals and our values.

So having gone through a few of the issues affecting our society, does any of this give a right to anyone to riot, terrorise, vandalise, steal and even kill? Let us be clear – there can only ever be one answer, NO. Someone once said, ‘If you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention’ – are we as a nation paying attention?

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