It has been frightening watching events unfold over the last few days, even though there have been no riots/violence in Scotland. Here we are too busy worrying about floods and in Edinburgh, for instance, the Edinburgh Festival goes ahead as normal. The Prime Minister has acknowledged that the largest police force in Scotland has done a valuable amount of work in managing to diffuse gang culture, and that England can learn a lot from this.
As I write this the debate is going on in Parliament to look at policies and reasons for the looting and stealing. Such televised and accountable debates make me proud to be part of the UK. However, the sickening events shown on the news happening this week are truly worrying. There seems to be an underlying lack of citizenship amongst certain people, and the fact that the riots were excuses for mass acquisitiveness and a breakdown in civilised behaviour, is almost beyond belief.
I have only briefly seen news reports from around the world of how England is viewed – but it is pretty bleak. One interviewee spoke of the string of comments from within the UK and abroad, he is the only person I have heard who used the words: love and compassion. I can only wonder if English society – and to an extent Scottish culture too – is broken and sick because of the inequality in education, the lack of vocational work opportunities and the lack of understanding and respect between different strata of society. Some people have very little hope, and that filters through to those who are working and struggling to get by, as well as being endemic amongst the unemployed and seemingly unemployable.
It all makes me so sad. I am consciously trying to move from anger and fear to sadness in my prayers, then maybe there is the chance I can get nearer to the changing power of compassion and love.