This is not the post I wanted to write today
This is not the post I wanted to write today.
For the past few days my head has been swimming with thoughts surrounding the recent violence in London and elsewhere in the UK. If you’ve had the misfortune to follow my Twitter feed then you know I’ve become increasingly, well, splenetic I suppose.
There is a very long post to come–longer than many of my short stories, long even than this one–full of my thoughts on not just the riots, but the reaction to them. But it isn’t coming together. Julia summed it up best when she read my draft and said “if you weren’t such a bloody good writer you could post it as it is, but you are so you can’t”. It reads as disjointed and frenzied.
Truthfully, I’m tired. I think that’s why I can’t finish the post. Tired of humanity, tired of the lack of compassion, tired of the smug posturing of the armchair pundits and so-called “experts” who think that their pet political theory neatly encapsulates every aspect of the complex miasma of correlation and causation that is human nature–individual and group.
Many of these people live beyond London, and sit in judgement telling us what we should and should not do. There are some on the left declaring all of this glorious, necessary, and just. After all, the social utopia must begin in revolution brother, and the entirety of the police force and the fire brigade are made up of people worse than Hitler. On the right they say that if we were simply less tolerant, less multicultural, and more willing to shoot live ammunition at children, to inter without trial and to bring back capital punishment, then none of this would have happened. Riots wouldn’t happen if you just got rid of the immigrants who must always, always be the root cause of trouble.
Perhaps all the pundits from outside London might take the time to climb down from their staggering towers of intellectual clarity long enough to come to the worst hit areas, find the people made homeless, and tell them how they should be happy to be homeless, as they have been sacrificed to the revolution. Or that they are themselves to blame for the loss of their home for tolerating “ethnics”.
I’m tired of people sneering at every single attempt to try to do something good.
We have come to the stage where showing concern and compassion for your fellow man is a source of derision and hatred.
And I’m beginning to think I’m crazy and alone for thinking this is wrong.
Everyone wants utopia. But an exclusionary utopia. Whether your paradise is of this world or one beyond the mortal veil, everyone claims to desire a paradise but only if they can keep out those they don’t like. Their “enemies”. All utopian ideals seem unavoidably built on the bones of your opponents. Paradise is for all–except for you, I don’t like the colour of your skin, your language, your politics, your face.
Even those who openly claim that yes, paradise can only be built upon the fallen after revolution–they find it remarkably easy to talk about these abstract people. It’s a little less easy to talk about the necessity when they are in front of you, in tears, the realisation that their home is a burnt out shell just beginning to sink in.
Utopia is an ideal to strive for. Utopias should never be realised. They can’t be realised. I’ve long since stopped believing in utopia. I strive for an ideal world where everyone is good to each other, where everyone is treats everyone else with dignity and respect. Knowing human nature, I know that is impossible. But in the striving for it we make things better. In the striving for the ideal capitalist or socialist society (neither of which are bad, in their theoretical realms) we make things better. But it is in this bloody and exclusionary insistence that they are real and would only be achieved if people weren’t so stupid, and would just accept that their lives need to be sacrificed so it can be realised–that’s what causes the problems.
They say that religion perverts a good idea. Political philosophy does the same. God doesn’t exist. Neither does your free-market economy nor your socialist paradise. They are all ideals, never to be realised, never truly existing. They can be strived for, treated as if they are real whilst maintaining awareness that they are knowing fictions, and the good extracted from them.
But that won’t happen. Rome is burning; the left blame Nero’s vast fiddle collection, the right blame the populace for allowing everyone to have fiddles. If only flames could be extinguished by the vast guffs of hot air from those who truly understand.
I’m watching a father talking about trying to save the life of his son killed in the violence. Tell him how necessary that death was, tell him how “bankers and capitalists” did worse to him. Tell him how his fellow Muslims are actually to blame for “coming over here and not integrating”.
And now we aren’t talking about justice. We’re talking about reprisals. Our bloodthirsty society is demanding benefits to be withdrawn from those convicted of rioting. Yet we don’t demand that for other criminals. Why are these ones so evil? We are asking for not just justice but reprisals. Was your child involved in the riots? It doesn’t matter if you had nothing to do with it, if you knew nothing about it, you are to be evicted too.
It’s not justice, it’s hatred, it’s malice, it’s lack of compassion. Lack of compassion played a part in these riots starting, are we honestly going to stop it by demanding more?
I don’t know. Nobody does, and that might be the very point.
All I know is I’m tired. Tired of people. Tired of people who find it easier to tear things down, to criticise, tired of people who glorify the dehumanising of those they disagree with, tired of explanations that were written before the events, because the theory simply can’t be wrong, so bend the facts to fit. Tired of the rioters, tired of their apologists, tired of their would-be executors.
We can only look to tomorrow to bring a better day.