Monday, August 15, 2011

The London Riots

One week has passed since widespread rioting and indiscriminate looting swept through London and to other parts of England.  In neighborhoods across London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool damaged storefronts remain boarded and burnt out buildings in states of disrepair, reminders of the violence and chaos that people inflicted on their own communities for reasons that are still incomprehensible to most of us.  

 

In the days following the riots, important questions are being raised, ranging from the motivations and compulsions of the rioters to the inadequate response and lack of force from the police.  The unfortunate truth is that many of these questions will lead to difficult answers, bringing to the surface deeper structural issues that reveal the layered troubles that exist within Britain, as they do in other countries.  I would hope that this is an opportunity to finally discuss these issues on a national level in a spirit of honesty and collaboration to seek solutions to a wide array of complex societal, economic, and organizational challenges, which combined together, have brought us to this moment of uncertainty, but which could evolve into a national renewal if confronted productively. 
I speak for most Londoners when I say that it was truly disturbing and disappointing to watch a city you love be gripped by fear and sustain so much destruction, both physical and psychological.  However, I remind my fellow Londoners that what sets this thriving metropolis apart is its resilience and determination to always rise from the ashes.  


London is an ancient city with a dramatic history spanning over 2,000 years.  The city has survived invading armies, barbaric rampages, epic battles, devastating plagues, indiscriminate air raids, horrific acts of terror, and plenty of fires and civil unrest which fill volumes upon volumes of history books.  It is a city that always endures and comes out better than it was before, adapting and growing in spite of what fate sends its way.  


Today Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain is a “broken society”, placing this at the top of his agenda while in office.  I share in his disgust and disappointment at what occurred last week and I agree that it calls for an objective appraisal and immediate action, but I would remind him of the thousands of volunteers across Britain who took to the streets with brooms and shovels to repair those communities which were worst affected.  The riots reveal deep rooted problems that must be addressed, but Britain is not unique in this experience.  Before the conversation turns towards the negative, I would remind Mr. Cameron that not all of Britain is broken.  It is just time to finally repair those segments of British society that are damaged and this is where the real rebuilding process begins.   

-KV  

P.S.  After contributing to London Cosmopolitan for nearly three years, I have created a separate medium in order to discuss some of the most pressing issues of the day and to analyze a bit more deeply the historic, political, and cultural context impacting current events in many of the places we have traveled.  I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback at www.travelissubversive.com.   

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