Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Demonstrations or Riots? Revolutionaries or Thugs?

Since April the world has sat on the edge of it's collective seat waiting for the other shoe to drop. First there was the Tunisian Revolution, then the Yemeni and Egyptian Revolutions and on and on through the dominoes of the Middle East towards the East. Most of this was to be expected. Most of the revolutions have been boiling below the public surface for decades, just waiting to erupt towards a (hopefully) peaceful revolution at any price. They followed our (the U.S.) 235 year old example. They wanted freedom to make their own choices, their own mistakes and to have checks and balances in their governmental systems allowing one arm to call another arm on something that doesn't seem quite right.

As I said before, it started in the Middle East and dominoed towards the Far East where there were stories of jasmine flowers helping to identify other possible revolutionaries. Twitter and Facebook - but mostly Twitter - took the world by storm and became the command center for each of these revolutions. News media made the revolutionaries out to be just that - revolutionaries. Brave men (and a few women) who put their lives on the line to make changes in their government and bring democracy to that part of the world.

But what I don't think anyone truly expected was the domino effect took a jarring left turn and landed in England after a brief stop off in Norway.

How am I linking these events?

Well - with Norway, the base cause is the same. There is unrest, in this case by a person because of how well people have assimilated. There are also the have's and the have not's - in the case the Liberal Party is playing the part of the "Haves" as they have power. Whereas everyone else does not. In this case, the man who has admitted guilt for the shooting claims to be a Knight. More specifically - a Knight Templar. Personally - I think he needs a thorough psychological evaluation while they search for the rest of the Knights Templar, which may be as easy as finding a message board for a guild in World of Warcraft named "The Knights Templar." Believe it or not - there are several The Knights Templar guilds on WoW - but this particular guild would be one that discusses more than just game play, raids and DK point systems. Again - a theory from me and I am sure they are looking over all those potential points of communications.

Now, onto England. England - that small, and overcrowded in parts, country of romance, legend, innovation, high expectations. The humour is drier and wittier than most you will find here in the US. The sci-fi TV shows can be campy, fun, light hearted and downright deep, thrilling and dangerous as well. Yes, they spell words in a funny way - I will always remember getting off the ferry that got us from France to England and passing a sign that said "Tyres." I asked my mom how to pronounce it, but she got a bit flustered before realizing that, to the person who wrote the sign meant "Tires." We spent the rest of that trip trying to figure out the strange spelling and the American counter words. The reason the riots in England hurt so much, or are even so shocking to us here in the States is multilayered, but here are a few. They are us with a better accent, better exchange rate, better school system (as seen from the outside) and a new Princess for goodness sakes! This type of behavior - the behavior we were witnessing and encouraging just two months ago when it was in the Mid East - is now gripping England and all we can say is "These lawbreakers belong in jail. Send them all to jail."

In just 3 days, the jails are overcrowded. There is no where else to take them and the threat of jail is obviously not working or witnessing your friends being hauled off would not encourage you to scream "Me next! It's my turn to do something utterly stupid just so I can go to jail!"

Here is some major differences I see between the Tunisian, Yemeni and Egyptian revolutions this spring and this slip shod war happening on the streets of London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc.:

The young men and boys who participated in the riots in the Middle East wanted an outcome. They wanted their current leaders (of forever) out of power. They wanted someone who wanted the job to actually have a chance at it. I am not saying that there wasn't any looting. I am sure there was! There is always looting in war. It is a fact of war. For them - this was a war that was finally being organized. Leaders were rising to the top like yeast through micro blogging sites and through word of mouth. This is what history will tell us - that when faced with communications that were most probably controlled or eavesdropped on by government agencies, they found alternatives.

And most importantly - we Western Journalistic types (or wanna bes) are calling them rebels, revolutionaries, game changers. Who knows - they may have lasting impact. Let's hope it is all positive in the end but the birthing of a new nation is typically done in fire and blood.

Now, onto England.

The young men and boys who are participating in the riots in England do not seem to have a goal in mind. They don't know what they want to do, they don't really care. I sometimes wonder if the buildings they have destroyed with retail on the bottom and housing on top housed their parents, their sisters their friends. The whole mess is being portrayed quite differently and as, quite frankly, an exercise in breaking the law.

Perhaps if they stepped in front of one of the cameras and said "We are fighting for our rights to have jobs or job search support. We are fighting for our rights for less expensive, quality housing. We are fighting for a chance to raise ourselves up out of Clapham and other city areas like them by having education further than the 8th grade and monetary assistance when necessary to pull ourselves up."

Now, I just threw that together not knowing a single thing that they need or want other than flat screen TVs. But when you put it like that, it makes this rioting in London, Manchester and beyond feel a little more driven than just a bunch of youths who want to get their mum's flat screened TVs with a five fingered discount. And that's how they are being perceived. A bunch of hoods who deserve to be in jail. But my question is - is that all they are? Is there something they want? Something they would use this capital on if they could only organize.

It will be interesting to watch for now...but to be honest, I am not enjoying these growing pains the world is going through It would be nice not to need gun fire or fire of any kind for this revolution if that's what this turns into. If it doesn't, then the only people they have hurt is their neighbors.

I would call on the journalists in England right now to be very cognizant of what it felt like to either be in, or watch what happened in the middle east from those walking/rioting not the surroundings then look at London. If it is somewhat the same - what keeps the Londoners from being called revolutionaries as those in the middle east were?

Now, other than that soap box...but one worth watching...

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