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Hopefully, the worst is now firmly behind us and London is almost back to its former self –cleaning operations are still in progress. In the press, the words “senseless” and “meaningless” seem to be everywhere.
The rioters are being brought to justice and apparently a petition asking to remove their benefits has gained more than 80 000 signatures in a couple of days.

But all rioters are not on benefits. Far from it, in fact. Some are indeed reasonably wealthy. Some even had good jobs (primary school teaching assistant, chef…) but somehow decided to participate. In the spur of the moment, as shop windows glasses were being smashed, they just entered and stole what they could. Afterwards, they boasted about it on Twitter and other social networks. In short, they were just looting for pleasure, helping themselves to get stuff they wouldn’t normally get or stealing just for the excitement. This year the Ramadan falls in August, which means that the riots cannot be used to stigmatise the Muslim community. The rioters come indeed from all ethnical backgrounds
To me, this reinforces the point that we are all free to decide what it is we want to do with our lives. At the end of the day, it is an individual choice: whatever your family, your background and your beliefs, at some point you have to decide what to do with yourself. When we are free, we are also free to make mistakes. Maybe, to an extent, we are never as free as when we make a mistake (I know, I am deep today!). Maybe such riots prove that we have indeed a free society. But freedom is also fragile and too many mistakes might jeopardise it.  Maybe it is time to start appreciating more what we have.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
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  • Hey Muriel,

    I was so saddened by the news these days. It’s like I went to sleep in a bad world and woke up in a worse one. We are free to decide but when do we draw the line between stopping people from doing the wrong and letting them do as they please because we live in a free world. Many people fail to understand the consequences of their actions. A 5 minute of violence maybe just for self pleasure and excitement can have disastrous consequences.

    We need to understand that everyone is important and that problems have solutions and that solutions have to be found not waited for.

  • A really nice summary – I just wish people were made to adequately account for their actions they undertake in this free society

  • How little the Plasma TV stealing political classes understand the modern world. The sanctimonious calls today to join China, Bahrain et al. in strangling Twitter and Blackberry BBM make as much sense as strangling carrier pigeons after the Gordon Riots. The 630th anniversary re-enactment of the Peasants Revolt was quiet subdued – not a single Bankster was hanged from a single lampost.

  • I have to say that the images coming from your side of the pond have been shocking and startling.

    It really saddens me because I feel that if it can happen in England, it can happen anywhere.

    What made normally sane people act in this way? I just can’t fathom it.

    The mob mentality is very scary and no one country is immune.

  • Muriel, Thanks for your excellent report and summary.

    I have another take on this: the riots in England are a clear example how the veneer of so-called civilization is indeed only skin deep. These riots can, and have, happened in many other countries, but they go unnoticed until they occur in some place like London. I’m glad they were in August, during Ramadan, so that can exclude many Moslems even though some continue to blame immigrants. But take a look at English history that is rife with riots, uprisings, and mob scenes. Any old excuse will do for pillage and destruction by the resentful few. It’s in their genes and has been going on for thousands of years, and this latest was but a flare up. Except for one thing: most riots are related to what are felt to be economic injustices, and recent government cutbacks may have helped trigger them.

  • It comes down to the choices we make in life, when all is said and done. And those choices, good or bad, define us.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post.
    ~cath xo

  • Profound indeed, Muriel! I remember seeing the footage of the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, my hometown, and feeling ashamed that there would be actual Vancouverites of all walks of life, taking photos of themselves and filming themselves as if proud to be beating up on others and looting stories. =( I think it’s the scary side of the “herd mentality.”

  • As with all riots, there are those who are opportunists. But what I have not heard is a definitive reason for the uprising, if we can call it that. Was it simply lawlessness or was it a irrational response to legitimate gripes?

  • crowd mentality scares me!
    I LOVE this last paragraph and how you say that perhaps we are most free when we make mistakes. I want to think more about that!