A great deal has already been said by a lot of people about the events of this week. I still don’t feel I can ignore it here. We have, I am sure, all experienced a roller coaster of emotions in London and other cities around the UK. Some of our certainties have been challenged. I know my wildly optimistic faith in human nature took a battering at the start of the week. I questioned moralities and values. I flipped from soft hearted liberal worrying about how we had failed a section of our youth to the point that they respected nothing to the more behaviourist version of myself, i.e. actions must have appropriate consequences. The young Malaysian student Mohd. Asyraf Haziq – who was mugged, had his bike stolen and then was most cynically ‘helped’ by others, while they emptied his backpack, became emblematic of the inhumanity and horror we were witnessing. At first, much of it seemed to be attacks on the material – great loads of ‘stuff’ was grabbed but people weren’t really being attacked. Suddenly the underlying violence had a face.
Prior to that, ‘only’ police were being attacked and in some instances people were ready to justify this as if they were in some way responsible for any of this. One of my family is a riot trained police officer. As she packed to come from Scotland to help out her southern colleagues, the fact that her partner ensured she stocked up on chocolate and high energy drinks to help her through, brought it all so much into human focus. Rather than a threatening looking Judge Dredd figure, in all the gear, this was our own vulnerable girl who wasn’t looking for a fight but just to do the right thing. Those who took to the streets all over the country with brooms to clean up the areas they loved just wanted to make things right too. Locals covered a boarded up looted shop window with ‘post its’ stating why they loved Peckham. We are always amazed when we find that cliche – the ‘British war time spirit’ that brings out the best in the community community – but it is easy for it to dissipate fast once the crisis has passed. Many of us have contributed to the fund for Asyraf or sent him cards to show we care. People have contributed to those who lost everything in fires. How do we rebuild our world and our belief in the fundamental goodness of people? I really need your help to think this one through