Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London's Burning

We're a privileged lot, us ambulance people. We knock on people's doors, people we have never met before and in all likelihood will never see again, and they just let us in. In fact, not only do they allow us in, they invite us into their homes. Any time of the day or night, we knock on the door, strangers in every sense of the word, and step into somebody else's world, usually without any fear. And in these worlds, these homes, we see lives laid bare. Emotion at its most raw, sadness and anger in equal measure, happiness rarely, but for just a brief period we're allowed a quick peek into lives that not only do we not live, but often couldn't imagine. 

From beautiful homes, some bigger than my street, fenced off, gated properties with the rich and sometimes famous, to squalid apartments, crawling with rats and bearing a gut-wrenching smell that needs to be experienced to be understood, we see them all. 

We see happy families, smiling photos beaming down from the walls, and families torn apart by an unknown, unloved past. There are single parents, adopting and adopted families, children who grow up with everything they could wish for, and children who grow up with nothing. 

This country is the same as any other, the people here too. Most of us strive to make the best with what we have, to live our lives to our fullest potential, to be a member who contributes to a society in order to make it more livable, more comfortable for both ourselves and everyone else. These are the basics of human life, of being part of normal society. 

These last few days, starting in London and spreading around the country, have shown another side to our first world society. An ugly side, a threatening side, a destructive side. We've seen society at its worst. 

There's a sense of entitlement that exists amongst too many. It starts with people expecting to have everything handed to them on a plate. People don't want to have to think for themselves any more, so that where once, many years ago, ambulances would only be called in the most dire of circumstances, now a mere six hour old case of sinusitis is cause for a deferment of responsibilities onto somebody else. 

Let someone else tell me what to do, it's too hard to think for myself. 

I'm not a member of society, I'm me. And I'm the most important. 

What I want, I will have. 

The longer it goes on, the more it becomes ingrained as a norm. It's culminated over these past few days by several hundred people deciding that normal society just isn't for them. They don't want to be a part of it, and don't care about any other members of it. 

If I want a television, I'll just go and get one. 

If I want the latest trend in sportswear, I'll just smash my way into a shop and take it. 

That's not my house, or shop, so who cares if I set fire to it? 

This isn't a democratic exhibition of freedom. Freedom isn't expressed by attacking public and private property; homes, cars, even ambulances.

This isn't a political protest, aimed at changing any one of many government strategies or some perceived unfairness. 

This isn't the underprivileged minority, or a certain race, or only young men. The pictures tell a different story altogether. There's a huge mix. The demographics can't be narrowed down in any way, but the thought process can:

What's mine is mine, and what's yours is also mine. 

It starts with disregard for society as a whole and its rules; it's a disregard for private belongings, a disregard for public provisions, and eventually leads to a disregard for human life in general. We can consider ourselves lucky if all we do is count the cost in the number of human lives lost. But that is not all we've lost. People have lost their homes, their businesses, their streets. 

They have lost financially and physically. They have lost their pasts, their presents, their futures. But we, as a society, have lost a great deal more. 

We have lost our dignity. 

Now's the time to fight to get it back, and maybe, just maybe, by showing these criminal thugs and hoodlums that we care, by teaching them that there is another way, they might decide to rejoin society as valued members rather than self-proclaimed outcasts. 

And as I watch London burn, I can only hope. 


flobach said...

The UK, or even the western world on a turning or learning point?

Let's hope it won't have to be Destroy, Erase, Improve. History books have enough evidence of that happening, I'd like to think humanity is growing out of it.

Othere_Grey said...

Couldnt have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

I've not grown up with much but I've fought for what I do have, I have manners, am polite to others and work my ass off for the NHS in an often thankless position and try to be a good person to society.

It really frustrates and angers me and I really don't get why these people think they can behave like they are doing?! And really what do they hope to achieve other than proving what feckless idiots they are? I am praying and hoping that its all stopped before anyone else's lives are destroyed and that these scum are made to pay for what they have done.

Anonymous said...

Scary, shocking. I wish all of you in Britain's ambulances, fire departments, and police stations strength. And all regular citizens enduring this destruction also.

-Johanna from Finland

Capt. Schmoe said...

I have been following the strife in Britain and find it quite alarming. We have had similar instances in the past and I am quite sure that we will again.

Civilization is a fragile thing. When it breaks down, the long term ramifications are extreme. The shop owners who were looted and burned out will probably not rebuild in the same neighborhoods, nor will people come into those areas. What was likely a marginal neighborhood will only get worse. A pity for sure.

I hope you have not been too badly affected, good luck through this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful comment on the last few days.

Simon J Stuart said...

You certainly are far more eloquent a writer than I have - or shall have - ever been.
You have expressed (for the most part) the echoed sentiment of outrage and disparity felt by the vast majority.

One point, however, I don't entirely agree with is your final point.

Meeting a corrupt mind with open arms will lead you only to a knife in your back. This is a lesson history has (unlike so many others) illustrated clearly time and again.

The only way to affect change in a mind so undeserving intent on having everything handed to them on a silver platter whilst they sit on their taxpayer-funded furniture, in their taxpayer-funded house, watching the world burn on their stolen plasma TV is to remove the taxpayer funding entirely.

What too many people seem to miss is that their mindset is a result of never having had to earn anything they've been given in life for themselves. As you yourself have pointed out, this breeds the unfounded belief that they're entitled to having everything without earning it, even if that means turning to crime in order to make it happen.

Stop handing these people a free ride on the welfare system, at the expense of people like you and I, who work damn hard for very little luxury, and pay the self-same taxes which far too often (and in far too great a quantity) end up lining the back pockets of the lazy.

No man physically capable of working for a living should be given anything for nothing.

It's like a drug: you give them a little, soon they'll want more, and more, and more. Inevitably, when they start to want more than we're willing to provide, they'll just take. If they can't take, they'll destroy. If they can't destroy, they'll kill.

Love and hugs won't fix this!

Anonymous said...

What has been going on has been disgusting- but I've been suprised and encouraged by the community's rallying around in response to what's going on. Yes, we're seeing the worst of Britain, but I think we're also seeing some of the best. I'm clinging onto that!

Keep safe out there whilst these idiots are still about.