A riot of confusion
Fires burned in London and other Cities in England for four days as youths rioted, taking the opportunity as they did so to loot and terrorise. The Police were caught unprepared and citizens found themselves undefended by the law enforcers who seemed either reluctant or unable to restore order and public safety. After these events, our political leaders flounder around trying to explain the causes of this situation to a very angry and disillusioned British Public.
People have thankfully not pointed the finger at race as the cause, in fact, it was groups that have a strong sense of community like the Sikhs standing side by side ready to defend their neighbours that stands out strongly as a model example of good citizenship. People lost their lives defending their families and businesses, including three young men from the Muslim community. Once again we saw greatness shine when the grieving father of one of these boys insisted that people calm down and restore peace.
England is blessed with a clement climate, strong agriculture, and a culture that prides itself on tolerance and democracy. We provide a free education, social security and medical care to all regardless of ethnicity, gender or social standing. We have equal opportunity laws in the work place, and ensure that everyone has at least an acceptable minimum wage and a safe working environment. Given all of this people from around the world watched and listened to the news this week and asked ‘What possible cause would people in Britain have to riot?’.
Some commentators, politicians and ‘experts’ have suggested that this is down to youth gang culture. Others have pointed out that there is a wealth divide between those that are on the basic state support and jobless and those who have great wealth. It has been suggested that it is because our politicians do not listen to the young people.
An interesting counter argument has come from many of the people who were victims of the situation and from the rioters themselves. The former blaming years of removing the rights of parents and schools to discipline unruly young people, and the courts for handing out very light punishments to convicted offenders. Asked why he was rioting, one man replied ‘because I can’.
Many of those rioting had jobs, and had travelled far to join in with the looting.
This has greatly shocked the law abiding people of this land, people of every race and religion, who are all outraged by the lack of morality displayed by these young people. We ask:
What has gone wrong?
Could we have prevented this?
How can we ensure that it does not happen again?
I believe that whatever the initial causes of the first riot in London, that it presented itself as an opportunity to defy authority and to steel. People genuinely believe that they will achieve happiness through material gain and through the domination of others. This is a condition that to a greater or lesser degree effects everyone in the land. Our communities and traditions have been systematically and deliberately disassembled in a vast social experiment.
We are taught to think of ourselves as individuals. We compete for the wealth that will bring us a bigger home or even a second and third home. We think that money will buy us things and that it is things that will make us happy. The wealthy are as caught up in this myth as are the poor, a through this striving to achieve happiness through money we have let the real thing slip away from us all.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated the situation correctly when he said ‘Britain is sick’.
Yes sir, it is.
It has been sick ever since we turned our back on our parents and on our families, putting the individual first. Since we ceased to belong to villages, towns, counties and regions as we had to mobilise to find work. Since we abandoned the influence of Grove, Church, synagogue and Mosque to the new gods of greed and envy which are the biggest drivers of our consumer economy.
The consequence has been misery, loss of hope, broken marriages, feral children, laziness and criminality. We are never happy even when we have every reason to be so.
The Bolivian Aymara people are trying to teach the world from their ancient wisdom, to strive to ‘live well’ not to ‘live better’. Living better requires money and can never be achieved. To live better we must always seek more and so never be satisfied. To live well does not require an excess of money.
Consider what someone might need in order to live better: everyone else must have less. This creates huge inequalities and as everyone strives to be better than the next, we destroy our community and the planet also.
Consider what someone might need to live well: to belong to something bigger than oneself, to have a way of serving that greater cause, to be loved and to love. Also to have food, water, shelter and the freedom to be oneself without fear.
All of the great religions of the world today, and the most ancient of the wise traditions belonging to our ancestors teach that seeking to outdo each other would become our downfall.
We have as a society become the victims of a machine that has leapt beyond the control of morality and common sense, as everything we do is now driven by a search for profit. You have profit when you take out more than you put in. This simple equation when applied by the worlds biggest organisations pays for our media to bombard us with images that lie.
The lie is that if you buy this product, you will be better, you will be happier, you will be more.
To believe that extreme greed can function as a driver for mankind is delusional. The evidence that this is foolhardy is in plain sight. Our richest nations are beset with social and economic problems, the earth is over populated with people, food, water, space and fuel are running out, and the climate and ecosystems are on the verge of collapse and we are still unhappy!
The ancestors and wise people, the prophets and seers of every people throughout human existence have spoken and told us how to live if we are to be fulfilled and happy.
It can be summed up as
‘Love and be loved’, ‘Give as generously as you receive’, ‘Respect yourself and equally, all others’, ‘Be truthful and honourable’, ‘Do not take what rightfully belongs to others’, ‘Strive to live in harmony with all beings and in balance with the earth’.
I wonder how many of the rioters are now looking at their stolen goods with a hollow feeling inside. Deep down they know that happiness still evades them and the ‘joy’ of possession is tainted by the method of acquisition. It will live on in their nightmares once the euphoria of the power trip fades from memory. As they beat up the helpless and burned down the businesses of their neighbours, they became less than they were before.
Although the rioters caused fear and provided a very visual spectacle of society breaking down, the damage caused by their greed and lack of responsibility pails into insignificance beside the damage done to us all by investment bankers lending money that they knew could not be repaid in order to get their personal huge bonuses, or the damage caused by politicians sending our armies into needless wars, or the damage to our environment by a policy of growth that cannot be sustained. The people in suits somehow get away without a prison sentence and condemnation yet are just as guilty of letting selfish greed destroy the best assets we once had to share.
So trillions are wiped off of of world markets and great nations go bankrupt because a collection of yuppies wanted more…
If we are to solve these issues in a balanced way then we have to recognise the true evil in all this is a selfish lust for money and possessions no matter that others pay the cost. We need to return to spiritual values, whether Aymara, Druid, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or what ever and stop this madness that puts ‘having more’ above being happy.