I only lived in London for half a year, but it’s one of my favorite places in the world and it will always feel like a home to me.
I was there in the beginning of 2005, only a few months after the reelection of the dreaded George W., and I remember thinking that compared to America, England felt like the sanest place in the universe. During our orientation, a member of the House of Lords came and told us about the way things worked in the UK: police without guns, pickpocketing but very little violent crime, government-funded higher education and healthcare, and a Prime Minister who must regularly defend his actions to the Parliament and the people. And most of all, a reasonable, educated populace who took an interest in the world around them. I know I was only stopping through and can’t speak as someone who actually grew up in the UK, but these were the impressions that I got during my time there.
When shit goes down in London, I feel a pang for it the same way I’d feel for any place I lived, the same way I’d feel about something that happened in my own country. Which brings me to the recent riots. I have far from a full understanding of them, but there’s something so fundamentally horrible about it all. A city that seemed to me one of the most reasonable and enlightened in the world, for all its problems and failings, for all its long history of unrest, devolving at such a rapid rate.
Honestly, what is wrong with people? Why do people suck? This whole mob mentality thing is seriously fucked up. Of course it also sounds like there’s some seriously legit sociopolitical beef behind all of this, but that doesn’t undo the fact that this kind of reaction is not the way to work through issues. Are human beings honestly just barbarians two layers below the skin? Does society fall away that easily?
Half-formed thoughts, I know. Just had to get this out.