Dh and I have a very bizarre circle of friends. Those of you who are like us, slightly crunchy, university-educated, formerly "big city", yet also living in a small town and Christian probably understand what I mean. We don't fit anywhere completely - we are more conservative morally than many of our friends who aren't "church" types and tend to be thought of as being a bit odd, and on the other hand, some of our church friends and acquaintances think we are bordering on un-Christian (in their minds) at times and certainly, many of them think that we are politically and parenting-wise significantly too far to the left. Our faith has a much more New Testament than O.T. orientation and we strive not to live like Pharisees (although we do have strong beliefs about what we are commanded to do in terms of our lives and we try to live what we believe).
One hazard of having this odd group of friends is that, at times, people say things and expect us to agree and they are things that shock us. I have debated whether to link my blog to my Facebook and today, I know why I haven't. Someone I know and love came out with something today that ENRAGED me and reminded me of just how much I can disagree with those I love. I need somewhere to rant and I don't want her to see this.
I have been watching the situation in the U.K. with tremendous sadness. From what I have seen and read, society in the U.K. (and more generally in Europe) has been going down a very troubled road. To me, these riots are just a symptom of a bigger problem. This is what I saw as my friend's status this morning:
RIP Broken Britain.. You went soft on discipline!.. You went soft on immigration!You went soft on crime.. Parents were told.. 'No you can't smack the kids'....Teachers were prevented from chastising kids in schools.. The police couldn't clip a troublemaker round the ear.. Kids had rights blah blah blah.. Well done Britain..You shall reap what you sow.. We have lost a whole generation.
I have spent the day brooding and arguing in my head. I don't know why, the kind of "Christians" who say things like this aren't interested at all in what I have to say (or what other people have experienced). I just can't get past this - seriously, smacking people upside the head and hitting our children is going to rectify a situation like this? Do you honestly want me to believe that the young men involved in this haven't already been abused by the adults around them? We are going to blame immigrants? I don't recall seeing many skinheads with dark skin, with kinky hair or with Asian features. In fact, I believe that the first deaths related to the riots were of three young men trying to protect their neighbours and judging from the father of one of the boys who was obviously originally from South Asia, I don't think it was the Asians who were responsible. I am SO SICK of ignorant people blaming the problems that we, those of us whose families have been around for generations, have created and allowed to fester.
The problem in England? Young men who have grown up in a society that tells them that they are utterly valueless. They are born to mothers who are using drugs/depressed/victims of abuse/hopeless, living in grim housing that looks like something post-nuclear apocalypse, taught a curriculum that ignores their learning disabilities/fetal alcohol syndrome/lack of early stimulation/emotional issues caused by lack of stability in their early years by teachers who are expected to drive a curriculum home to classes that are too large and too angry and they learn from their first school experiences that they are stupid and unworthy. They go to sleep at night listening to the social chaos around them and with no hope of a different future. They are fed constant messages that tell girls that their own value is in their sexuality and boys that they only prove their value through possessing stuff and bullying those around them. They quickly fall prey to messages that scapegoat immigrants as being the cause of the problems rather than a government system that has been mismanaged for years and an economy that has left so many behind as many industries that kept families going for generations disappear. I am in no way saying that they are right in their riots but to say that the problem is a lack of physical discipline is so utterly simplistic.
The saddest part? That we, as Christians, have missed the chance to change these futures. We could, if we tried, put across the message than rather than being worthless, these young men are created in God's image, they are loved and valued and have so much to contribute. We could have taught them how to think about others and developed their capacity to feel empathy instead of blind rage. We could have come alongside their mothers and changed the environments in which they are raised.
Yes, the Facebook poster was right - we are reaping what we have sown. Tragically, so many people are paying the price. For me, the only question is how we can change this and what I can do. I guess, no matter how much I disagree, I should thank the poster - she has really made me think about what I might do to help a child to feel his/her worth.