I returned last Friday from a week more or less out of reach of TV, radio and electronic communications to what feels like another country: A country convulsed by anger, outrage and anguish. A country in which the ‘old certainties’ of even ten days ago, now seem past their sell by date.
If we can take anything positive from the days of destruction and division in England recently, says Chris Bain, perhaps it should be a dedication to tackle fear and exclusion wherever it exists around the world, and to stand by the women and children in the poorest countries who currently stand afraid on their own.
Purity and simplicity are quite rare qualities. When "pure and simple" is used to describe something which is in reality challenging and complex, it often accompanies the desire to mislead or to close down argument.
Many people are angry and frightened at the rioting that has caused such damage in cities across England. Some favour harsh punishments. Ideas which have become popular include cutting off welfare benefits to those convicted and evicting their families from social housing. Wandsworth Council has reportedly already applied to the courts to evict a tenant whose son was involved.
I have recently spent the night reading about and watching the (in the first instance) London riots unfold from my hotel room in India. I have lived in Lewisham since 1998 and to see aerial images of cars along the main streets on fire and shops I know well looted has been surreal.
With the smell of smoke and wail of sirens in the background, about 200 to 300 people from a range of faiths on the evening of 8 August gathered for a prayer and a walk to the center of Tottenham, north London, scarred by a weekend of rioting.