I live in a world filled with bowls of pasta, cups of tea, and Aaron cardigans. I live a sheltered life in a town where very little happens. On Sunday night I stayed awake all night, until 5.00 am, glued to Twitter, reading with horror about London being destroyed. I have a deep love of London, of the places, street names, buildings, and the people. Seeing the photographs of a very particular type of person setting it alight gave me a lurch in the stomach, and made me feel intensely sick.
Tonight, after following the events solely on Twitter, I turned on the news, and, as much as I hate clichés, my mouth fell open, and I almost cried. Seeing the destruction and brainless violence, by people who won’t even show their face, brings me to tears. How inhuman and de-socialised do you have to be, how intensely do you have to feel separate to the country you live in, to want to destroy it?
I’ve grown up in England, and feel it in my bones. As furious and disenchanted as I am sometimes with the Government and the way the country’s run, I never feel separate to Britain; I feel part of something very special. As an Englishman I feel part of a nation that once ruled an empire spanning most of the world, in spite of the fact that we’re a very small island. In Britain we have something very, very noble and special, and only people who have come from outside and don’t feel part of it could ever want to hurt it.
The fact that a man was killed by the police (a man who pulled his gun out first) may have ignited the first fire, but the brainless vigilantes who are sucking everything they can find out of every shop, and burning every building they come across, are not looting in the name of Mark Duggan.
Living in quiet, middle-class England, I understand that the Police have shortcomings, and are often guilty of corruption, but on a basic level they’re there to protect us. If I’m in trouble; if someone breaks into my house, or I’m attacked on the way home, I ring the Police, and they come. If I ring them then shortly after, they come and fix my problem. With a few exceptions, they are good men and women. Policemen do a job passionately, and they are a strong force to stand up for people who follow the law. I wish desperately that I could make the young people in London who feel so outrageously indignant about Police brutality realise that you only get shot by Police if you shoot them first, or put yourself in a position where they point their guns at you. People who work hard, follow the law, and lead normal, quiet lives, will never face the barrel of a Police gun, or any gun. Mark Duggan died because of the life he lead.
Any sympathy that might have been afforded to these people, any respect, or consideration, has been wiped out in fire. No-one will ever take them seriously again, and they’ve sealed the same fate for everyone else. When the students protested back in December, I felt so strongly that it would have been far more effective, instead of rioting and causing violence, to sit in the road outside Westminster, and outside the party offices, in complete silence, to stop traffic. Imagine if the politicians had to step over thousands of silent, staring faces, who wouldn’t move. How much more dramatic and powerful would that have been?
Violence is one of those things in life which is totally counter-productive, and does the opposite of what you want it to.
The people destroying London are not British, and are not human. British people would never destroy any city, let alone London, and I hope that doesn’t make me sound racist, but we love London.