UK Riots: The Cure is Worse than the Disease

It is both alarming and disturbing to hear the tough talk of punishing criminals through expedient courts. There are reasons why such looting and destruction have taken place on such a grand scale here in the UK. Why are so many disaffected and careless in the face of the law and the system that stands to judge them?

What purpose will sending teenagers to prison have other than enriching their knowledge and network of criminality? What help will a criminal record provide a kid in reintegrating with civil society? Their needs to be so much more than the rhetoric of: 'we will hurt you for what you have done'.

By the very nature of our consumer society we have bread such wantonness into our children, our economic growth depends upon them shopping. However, the greed and so-called fulfillment propaganda of the advertising industry, epitomized in a recent billboard as 'Feed Your Addiction', combined with the absence of opportunity is the birth place of such criminality. When you 'have-to-have, lawlessness is obviously for some--the only option.

The problem is comprehensive, 'beating down the criminals' as recently stated by Cameron is just not a comprehensive enough response. Our foremost ethics, values and compassion need to come to the forefront, and response backed by social change and new messages of what makes us worthy and happy as people and community must be spoken. Our economic initiative and policy cannot exist to make some rich and all of us morally bankrupt.

Certainly I am not against discipline and punishment, but to beat a slave is wrong; for what is a slave other than someone who toils with no further prospect. Freedom, opportunity and empowerment need to be the watchwords in the corridors of our leaders. Those who have amassed excessive private of corporate wealth must utilize it in aid of those with little opportunity. The celebrity and media must be more conscious of the messages they are putting out, and our government have counter the reduction of its people to mere consumers.

For these disaffected kids the punishment should be no more than meaningful community engagement, with no record of criminality kept. And for the long term we must provide them opportunity and new values where they may be defined by the ethics they live rather than the things that they have. To make such kids homeless and to remove their welfare benefit, as has been proposed, exposes nothing more than the shear stupidity in our leadership. Their proposed cure is worse than the disease.

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