Monday, August 8, 2011

On Hope

When my plans changed from a service trip to Cape Town to one in London, most of my nearest and dearest breathed a sigh of relief at the compared relative safety of the two places.  And London is indeed incredibly safe.  Maybe that's why the riots of the last few days have people especially on edge.
A word of comfort - my daily routine has been completely unchanged.  The routes I take to and from various volunteer commitments are fine, and while it is pretty scary that the shops near my walking-distance grocery store were smashed and looted last night, it does appear that these riots are mainly targeting shops, not people or homes.  My house is tucked back in a residential neighborhood, so I'll exercise reasonable caution and all should be fine.

And now, a word on hope.  I'm not going to comment on the exact motivations of the (mostly young) people doing this rioting, because I haven't spoken to a single one in person and I don't think it's helpful to speculate in situations like these.  I do think it is important that things like this happen frequently when people feel fearful or hopeless.  You take a society where things look grim (either from dictatorial leadership, or just a bad slump in the economy, or distrust of the leadership), you fuel that fire by having high unemployment rates, and boom.  A whole lot of bored, angry people will try to gain control over their lives by any means necessary.  I am grateful we haven't seen this in the states recently and I hope people (particularly in democratic nations) everywhere can find a way of articulating their outrage without turning to violence.

There is an upside to this (stay with me here).  These riots and any similarly violent, seemingly pointless outburst are atrocious.  People's livelihood and in some cases lives are being put at risk and that's simply not okay.  But the upside is that it is a reminder (albeit a negative one) that we are creatures of hope.  In times and places where people have reasonable hope - young people have the promise of not only a good education, but confidence that they will be able to actively pursue a future after receiving that education -- I believe that instances like this are much more rare.  Of course they happen, and they can be instigated by myriad things.  But we are creatures who crave hope, direction, and futures.  We're creatures of Life.

Here's hoping order and, much more importantly, hope are restored to the streets of London and soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment