London is my favorite big city. I’ve visited twice, and always felt perfectly safe walking its streets. I love its history, architecture, culture, and diversity.
So it saddens me to read the news of London’s riots. And not just for the heartbreak it causes to the people hit hardest by the looting and arson. But also because it reminds me that there are so many kids out there being raised with no moral center.
In other words, these hooded thugs running through the streets breaking windows and setting buses on fire, were apparently never taught the difference between right and wrong.
What, did the parents think the school system was supposed to do that?
Did not their mother, father, grandmother, uncle, or neighbor ever point out that stealing from someone is bad? That setting fire to a building might cause pain and suffering? That spreading fear and panic is probably not the best choice to make?
That’s what saddens me most. And it makes me wonder how close to home this kind of thing could hit. Am I surrounded by a simmering lawlessness that is just one thin excuse from breaking through the surface?
We’ve seen riots before, all over the world. But, most of the time, there is a legitimate rallying point. In Egypt and Syria, it was democracy. In Los Angeles, back in 1992, it was a criminally unfair court verdict. In Washington, DC, in 1968, it was the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
But London 2011? It may have started with a police shooting, but the rallying cry is now, as one looter said, “I’m here to piss the police off. I’ve come out for money, this is our payback.”
Even my own 13-year-old son was perplexed by this attitude. He would never choose violence and theft as a means of expressing himself. He said, “I just can’t imagine running around breaking things like that, especially in the place I live.”
But I guess I raised him right. I sure hope a few others have. I hope my neighbors have. I’d hate to think that if the teens next door get upset at the police or government they’d burn my house down in retribution.
It wasn’t that hard for me to teach, through both word and deed, my own kids about respect for the life and property of others.
Apparently, not everyone thinks it’s important to pass on those kinds of life lessons. We’re seeing evidence of that on the streets of London as I type.
I’d like to tell the parents of those rampaging thugs, “It’s not too late. Even if your son is 18 or 25, it’s not too late to march out into the street, grab him by the ear, and tell him to knock it off.”
Maybe that’s all they need to hear.