I’ve talked a lot about the London riots in the past week, and I’ll spare you my thoughts because you’ve probably already heard similar ones from someone else. Instead, here’s some silver linings:
“Felt very isolated and thought that whole of society was against us. Your support and kindness has meant so much to me and my colleagues!”
That’s from the #Awesomestow initiative, where some members of the community put together an impromptu canteen as a place for the police, who were working gruelling hours in Walthamstow, to have a cup of tea and recharge their batteries. Click on the link to see a touching Flickr set of the canteen and the ‘wall of thanks’ from the police, thanks to RadioKate.
In a similar vein, one of the destroyed and boarded up shops in Peckham has become a ‘peace wall’ with post it notes of community and support. Check out a zoomable image of it to see the messages.
The riots have made me a bit reflective, too. What would make me get out in the street and clash with the authorities? It is hard for me to imagine getting involved in violence, though I have peacefully protested before and such events can escalate quickly. I do get angry and frustrated at events in the world, but my instinctive response is to try to make things better, not smash something.
Because I’m young enough to be all pissed off
But I’m old enough to be jaded
I’m at the age where I want things to change
But with age my hopes have faded
I’m young and bored of being young and bored
If I was old I could say I’ve seen it all before
In short; I’m tired of giving a shit
While I am a very optimistic person, there are times when the chorus above hits close to home. I wish that the issues I care about, like climate change and rational thinking in general, weren’t marginalised or controversial. I sometimes wish that I didn’t care about them, because the time and effort I invest in them comes out of the one short life I have. But I can’t ignore these things. It cuts me deep when I hear that Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who denies climate change, is leading prayer rallies in a pointless and counterproductive response to his state experiencing one of the most severe droughts it’s seen.
But then I see community actions like the Peace Wall above, and I am working to help Lottolab engage young people with science and inquisitive thinking, and organisations like the AYCC keep fighting for what they believe in. I know that I have no choice but to keep doing whatever I can, because if I don’t try, I have no right to expect others to. And if no-one tries to make the world a better place, it very quickly won’t be worth living in.