I’ve always been aware of how lucky I am: I live in a first-world country, so I know of the many millions of people living in horrible conditions and I’ve witnessed plenty of footage of natural disasters. I won’t lie and say that it’s made me a good samaritan and I’ve given whenever I could, but I like to think it’s at least given me some perspective when complaining about the trivial things like us lucky people often do.

The footage of the rioting in London tonight has made me realise how lucky I am on a more national, local scale though. Our country has never been under attack from another nation during my lifetime, and I’ve never lived in a city where an explosion has gone off, for example. But it’s also made me feel something that I never thought I’d feel leaving the house for five minutes at 1am: fear.

I finished work at 1am tonight. I work from my home in Sheffield, so thankfully there were no incidents of rioting (that I’m aware of) and even if there had been, I wouldn’t have had to make my way through them to get home. After finishing I had to walk the dog around the block. The area I live in isn’t exactly a leafy suburb, but I’ve never felt at risk until tonight.

Obviously, a good deal of this worry and nervousness is in part due to the horrible footage being shown all night, but it’s also because it gives the impression that the rioting is due to these people having fun and, worryingly, like they can get away with it; it’s like a circus of destruction.

You have to be incredibly naive to think that the vast majority people are trying to make a political statement of any sort and are anything but opportunist criminals taking advantage of a clear shortage of police. I felt a small twinge of panic when it started to appear that these people were organising themselves. The fact that similar riots have started up in other places around the country, with no apparent link to the events in London, is frankly terrifying.

I guess we’ll know tomorrow if the police can get this under control, but the two videos that appeared in my Twitter timeline a short while ago have damaged my faith in humanity a lot more than I thought would have been possible. As a cynical sort of person that absolutely loves being proved wrong (at least when it comes to other people and their motivations) that’s a pretty depressing thought.

Still, as I said earlier, it’s important to keep things in perspective. I’d like to think I’ll take more opportunities to do something nice now and I’d urge everyone else to do the same. Someone has to and it certainly won’t be any of the people in the following videos…

Facebook video link

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4pcbiO4flY&feature=youtu.be]

Apologies if it appears that I’ve contradicted myself or rather clumsily tried to make a point. I wanted to at least write something before going to bed tonight and I’ve no doubt left myself open to gross misunderstanding and/or confusion.

One Reply to “Perspective and fear”

  1. I don’t think it’s so much that anyone is suggesting that the rioters individually have a political agenda or that they’re noble revolutionaries trying to smash the system. They clearly aren’t, most of them are teenagers and there’s just a lot of pointless violence and destruction of local infrastructure and business; and I hope the police can do as much as possible to end it all as soon as they can.

    So I think rather than commenting on the actual nature of what is happening in the riots, the question is about the conditions which give rise to riots and give rise to people in a community thinking it’s a desirable thing to do.

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