What do the UK riots tell us about ourselves?
It's sad and horrifying to see the way that the lowest human denominator has taken over so quickly in the UK rioting. While I understand that many of the participants in the looting and mayhem belong to an underclass that has not been offered much hope in recent years in the way of jobs or opportunity, and that their expression of rage is a response to a society that has ignored them while feeding them a media diet rich in consumer baubles that are largely unavailable to them, I still believe that human beings are intrinsically good; that they would rather contribute than destroy.
What triggers the release of the evil genie from the bottle? What makes the baser instincts take over? Most of the crime was purely opportunistic, and that's the puzzle. How would I behave if the streets got ugly? How would you?
Compare and contrast the behavior of these hooded punks with the tens of thousands who have seen far worse in Somalia and Ethiopia, and now crowd into camps in Kenya or try to survive on the streets of Mogadishu. They have less than nothing, yet they persist in the hope that life will get better for them. There is no rioting in the camps. Instead, there is an abundance of patience and gratitude.
Are these people just too beaten down to be angry? How have they retained dignity in the face of so much loss?