The Anglican Archbishop of York, speaking the other evening on a TV news programme, said that in his view the underlying main reasons, for the recent rioting in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and elsewhere, were concerned with satisfying one’s own desires, to the total disregard for other people, their interests, their property – even their lives and safety.  The Prime Minister, also speaking about the very frightening aspects of the riots, has referred to England’s ‘Broken Society’.  HRH Prince Charles, only yesterday, went to visit some of the areas affected by rioting; in meeting some of the victims, he pronounced himself very much in sympathy with the concerns they expressed, and said that the ‘Gang Culture’ – very much a significant feature of the riots in these inner city areas – were, in his view a ‘cry for help’ from many of the youth involved.

Teenagers of Today

Politicians, on all sides, have had their say, Parliament has debated the issues, and many authorities the length and breadth of the country – including the various police forces involved – have condemned the young people, the Government’s economic strategies for reducing the Nation’s debt, etc.  So, where does all this leave us?  Does it help to solve the problems endemic in our society?  Does it help us to move forward to a more tranquil and peace-loving people?   I do not think so.

After all the rhetoric, one is left wondering just where the discussions at parliamentary and local government levels, the debates on TV and radio, the ‘write-ups’ in the national press, have actually taken us?  In reply, I have to say that nothing ‘concrete’ has been achieved, and that we are now no further forward to the finding of solutions – solutions to what appear to be intractable evils in British society – evils that, from the evidence of the last few days, are not confined to the young people, given that the police and the courts have been pressurized into dealing with many who fall outside the youth and the gang cultures.  Nor are they restricted to that section of our society that is often described as disadvantaged – the poor, the unemployed and all the other ‘have-nots’.  Many of those identified, as having played some part in the riots and the looting, have been found to be employed in decent jobs, many have come from ‘good’ families, many have sufficient money to be able to spend time on computers – certainly sufficient enough to incite others to riot.

If we were to get together in a group and put forward the reasons we believe responsible for the unrest in our inner cities, I think we would find that there would be many more reasons than the total number included in the group.  We would all have our views, and you may well agree with me that among the reasons advanced would be the lack of money, the lack of jobs and the lack of opportunity, coupled with things like gangs and the peer pressures they exert.  I have heard opinions on TV that take in the corruptions people have heard about – corruptions involving the MP’s, the police and the media – not to mention the phone-hacking scandals still making the headlines.  Many would point to a lack of discipline and respect for authority.  Others would blame things on the fact that the young have nothing better to do than ‘hang about around street corners’ – drinking and drug-taking and the like. 

I suppose that all these factors may well play a part in modern day Britain – certainly, we hear about these ‘evils’ every day – but no one seems prepared even to begin to address them. 

However, one rarely hears any mention of God’s two principal commandments – to love God – and to love our neighbour.  Could it not be that, over the generations, we have got into the habit of putting more and more ‘false gods’ – money, possessions, power and greed – before the loving Father of us all, and before our love for him? Millions have turned away from Him; millions have forgotten he even exists.  Could it not be that, for decades now, we have become more and more self-centred – to the detriment of our fellow men and women, their interests, their well-being, their safety, even their lives?  I wonder? 

Those of us, of a certain age, can all remember times when the values produced by belief, honour, respect and love for God and our neighbour, were much more to be found in our English culture.  Over the years, we have advanced a great deal forward in terms of economics and technology; however, we have, perhaps, taken many steps backwards in terms of our morality, and away from those things that contribute to the quality of a ‘good’ life.  The unfortunate part of all this is that it may be very difficult – impossible even – to ‘turn the clocks back’ and regain what we have lost.

We should not lose hope, however, for God is with us – always.


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