UK riots – remember this?

August 8, 2011

Regular readers will remember that I predicted what would happen this year here: https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/talkin-bout-a-revolution-a-prediction-for-2011-and-beyond/

All I’ve heard for the last few months is how there’s no chance of social mobility for today’s youth – priced out of the housing market, made to pay through the nose for an education, widespread unemployment and the  only decent jobs going to the kids whose parents can afford to pay for them to do internships. The government cuts have also affected youth workers and services which made a difference in young people’s lives and the poor have been constantly vilified in our national press as scroungers and layabouts. Our right to protest has also been thwarted with techniques such as kettling and disproportionate prison sentences and lives ruined for young people who attend the marches.

 So what on earth did the powers-that-be think was going to happen? I don’t condone violence but this was always on the cards. The ‘haves’ have the power of wealth, status, media and the law behind them and constantly push a materialist/consumer agenda whilst simultaneously ensuring that this is out of reach for too many members of our society.We’ve sat back and watched as they’ve robbed the poor to feather the nests of the rich and even when they’re proven to have behaved in criminal ways to achieve this, they manage to escape justice. So why the surprise when the ‘have nots’ rise up and use the only power they have – physical power – and go out and take the baubles which are tantalisingly waved in front of them but always just out of reach? Surely what they’re doing is exactly the same as the example which has been set for them by the ‘haves’, by using their power to take what they want, without thought or feeling for the people who are affected by their actions.

In the same way that a parent who abuses their child for years cannot be surprised when that child ends up with severe behavioural issues, so the powers-that-be should have lead by example and shown compassion for all of the citizens of this country instead of simply abusing their power to line the pockets of themselves, their families and their cronies. There is only one solution to this issue and that is empathy. This country is being destroyed by self-serving greed and it’s a behavioural pattern which is being passed down from the top to the bottom.  If the haves begin to show compassion for the have nots instead of using their power to diminish their lifestyles even further for their own benefit, then perhaps we’ll begin to see some lasting change.

We’re not even halfway through the troubles I predicted. Expect to see more of this until a real change takes place.



  1. Yet the vast majority of people in the same position are working their arses off to keep their heads above water, without turning to crime.

    These rioters have destroyed their own communities, not the communities of the rich. As well as national chain stores, they have burned down or loot-stripped family businesses, who were likely struggling to keep those businesses open in the fallout of the recession.

    The knock on effect will be higher council tax for everyone in their areas, to pay for the damage.

    For certain, though, now is the time for compassion, and to look at the true cause of this. It’s not so much the economic hardship as the continued marginalisation of these communities. While the majority are clearly not in poverty, they are socially disadvantaged. They need support to create opportunities for themselves.

    If we move into a double-dip global recession, and possibly a depression, the people who are condemning these rioters are going to find themselves on the streets, too.

    In fact, with so many desperate, bankrupt nations across Europe, this is tinder for another European and World War.

    • Hi Les, thank you for your comment and also for the link on your twitter page 🙂

      Your response puzzled me a little as it seems to be almost in two halves. Not quite sure about the first half – there seems to be an implication that I’m condoning the behaviour of these individuals, which is an assumption which has been made by many who have read this. That’s not the case at all, understanding is certainly not the same as approval, and my view (which I thought was clear inmy post) is that destroying the homes and livelihoods of working class people is inexcusable and no better than the actions of the ruling classes – which was actually the point I was making. As I said, the ‘looters’ (for want of a better word) are following the example they’ve been set by the establishment and are taking what they want without consideration of others – the difference is that the establishment have the power of the law behind them so their looting is considered ‘legal’. And another significant difference is that dealing with the aftermath of this week’s events will cost millions, whereas the looting done by the government, bankers etc has cost us trillions. The hypocrisy of the authorities condemning the looters for ‘greed’ is breathtaking.

      I also just want to clarify what I mean by the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ – this is not necessarily just about money, but as I mentioned in the post, the ‘haves’ have all the power of status, the media, the law as well as wealth behind them, whereas the ‘have nots’ have very little power at all. They’re not just money poor – they’re opportunity poor, self-esteem poor, and very aware that the ruling classes couldn’t really give a monkey’s about them.

      I think the main point we agree on, though, is that compassion and empathy is needed for any lasting change to our society. This isn’t some hippy-dippy idea, or leftie-liberal PC statement – I work with disaffected and dispossessed kids on a regular basis and I’ve seen the difference it makes to their lives (and consequently their future actions) when they receive a little bit of empathy and understanding. People like to feel that they matter and that their existence is not futile, that their life has some meaning – and when they don’t feel that, then the result is not pretty. (Interesting, too, to note that this is a service I offer for free, as the emotional and psychological well-being of our young people seems to be very low on our society’s agenda.)

      Sadly, what I’ve seen over the last few days is that there is a huge empathy deficit in our society – rather than look at the underlying causes of the riots, people are just ranting about how they should ‘all be shot’, ‘shipped to Afghanistan’ etc . Far more constructive would be to recognise that there is clearly a high level of malaise within our society which I believe is caused by the authorities having very little empathy for the people they’re supposed to be working for. If the people at the top could begin to show more compassion and consideration for the rest of the population, rather than greedily exploiting their position to grab more for themselves at our expense, then maybe this attitude will move through the ranks and be seen at all levels of our society. Wouldn’t that be something?

  2. […] Ok, so I’m certainly not advocating that every bullied kid should get out there and start shooting the place up. But why are we so shocked when every once in a while someone is pushed over the edge because we’ve brought up our children to believe in differentiation and worship those who conform to our society’s idea of ‘the best’ whilst demeaning and rejecting those who don’t? When the people at the top of these man-made pyramids of power show little respect for those at the bottom, why are they so horrified when the people at the bottom show little respect for them? (You can read more on this in this blog post about last year’s riots in the UK here: https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/london-riots-remember-this/) […]

  3. (I know this a late comment but I was just thinking…) They may have destroyed their own and not the rich, but isn’t it because of the dysfunction that is being bred in our schools/homes in this day and age?…. Whether it be poverty stricken families, middle class families, or the Haves… If these were all adults of fully functional families… I can’t even wrap my head around the feelings I’m having right now, or convey what I was trying to get at. Sorry, moving on. Lol (This is where I start cutting back on my reading for the day. I believe…) 🙂 Thank you for another great read.

    • Absolutely – before the powers that be start pointing their fingers at people and punishing them, perhaps they should examine the society they’re helping to create through their policies and look at exactly why the people are reacting in this way. It’s similar to the current obesity/alcohol issues which I keep reading about – rather than trying to educate people about eating well and not drinking so much, perhaps it would be worth examining why people feel the need to self-medicate with alcohol and junk food. Our society appears to do everything back-to-front then punishes people for reacting in a negative way. Thanks again for your comment 🙂

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