My legacy: rioting is not the answer

I read a post by coffee and curls a while ago that made me think about what my legacy to my children would be. I saved the link and wrote a few ideas in my drafts folder and assumed that I’d get back to it. In fact, every time I saw a ‘yoof’ in the street behaving like an idiot, screaming and shouting, or drinking something inappropriate in a park, I vow that my child will not grow up to be like that. But the events of the last few days have rather made me look like an overprotective mother.

As I type, there are riots, not just in Tottenham, but across London from Hackney to Croydon. They seem to have missed Bromley so far, presumably because theer’s nothing of particular interest to set fire to*. My mother has called me from her home in Croydon to let me know that she and my brother are safe inside the house, for the moment at least.

There is trouble on the streets of Birmingham, where a hospital has had to be protected by riot Police. Fires continue to burn wherever scenes of unrest occur. In fact it seems that the news teams are struggling to keep up with news of looting, violence and social disturbance that has been increasing over the past few nights. Mr Cameron has, at last as many tweets have exclaimed, cut short his holiday to head back to Britain to try to bring an end to the chaos that is taking over London less than a year until the Olympics.

I find it very hard to grasp how the situation has become so outrageous, but the general consensus is that the riots has been ‘created’ using social media, not as a response to the fatal shooting last week by Police, but rather they have been using the situation to their advantage. It is merely an opportunity for vandalism, looting and unnecessary violence. They are someone’s children.

If I were the parent of one of these children I would be utterly embarrassed, frankly, to have raised them. How can idiotic youths set fire to buildings without even the slightest thought for the people who’s livelihood has been destroyed? How can they burn down homes? How can they, who say that they are doing this as a protest against the death of Mark Duggan, believe that this sort of behaviour will achieve anything other that create a stronger sense of community. I see all across the twitter feed, Facebook and the news, a combined sense of outrage at the needless violence and the anger at the hooligans who have wreaked such havoc. These mindless criminals will not be allowed to get away with destroying property, stealing goods and wreaking havoc on our streets. If I were their parent, I would be the first to shop them to the Police.

What do I want to leave my children?

  • A clear sense of what is right and wrong. I’d like to know that there is a Police Force that is beyond reproach, who will protect them and their belongings. A Police that they can trust.
  • I want to leave them with a country and a people to be proud of. I want to leave them with the sort of country that bounces back from hideous events such as the 7/7 bombings with a stronger sense of community, with stronger ties and with an absolute determination not to be pulled apart by such senselessness.
  • I would hope that this sense of community encompasses all nationalities, all creeds, all colours: the thing that unites us should be our desire for a better life, a better future, not whether the person who lives next door goes to church or not.
  • I hope that they will see riots by people who do not show their faces as mindless criminality. If you have something to protest about, you must have belief in it enough to a) show your face and your pride in your beliefs and b) give your belief the respect it deserves by NOT making your point with violence.

I hope that, when I have to scrape them off some pavement at 3am that they will remind me of this post: I might let them off with a little excess.

*whilst typing, a friend called to tell me that the centre of Bromley has been shut down, and Police cars have been whizzing past her house.

Go on! You know you want to tell me what you think!