“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” C. G. Jung
Not all of us have been in a riot or been in a revolution. But who has not known rage at some point? I am unsettled even remembering that I have had moments of rage in every stage of life, which I much prefer to forget. Each time was for a different reason and related to a specific precipitant event.
- Loss: a toddler losing a childhood companion doll (a clown) as a punishment
- Protection: an adolescent hearing my sibling being harassed and fearing for her life
- Poverty: a new mother finding out my electricity was about to be shut off and eviction was not far behind
I’m unsure if my experiences were senseless rage or righteous rage. I do think there is a real difference between the two. Rage and even violence can be righteous, as in the acts of the gods throughout mythology.
In England, the communities affected worst by the tragic riots this week had all kinds of reasons around them: a dark loss, absence of protection, real poverty. The community has lost life, an unresolved police shooting of a young man sparked the riots. The community has lost protection of the police, who were protecting things, rather than people. And certainly, the communities most affected are living in poverty that has been getting progressively worse for them.
When I watched the live videos coming out of London on BBC this week, the rage of local community youth was glaring. I had not expected to see what looked like a revolution here and now. But I don’t know how long I expected people to keep on looking at and walking by all the things they can not afford to own, in all the stores they do not own. The current situation is resulting in a painful redistribution of that wealth and property, forced by violence in an atmosphere of fear. While much of the media has painted the violence as senseless, the reasons do stare back at me in the video footage. In a first hand account of a young woman’s experience and perspectives on the riots near her place, Penny Red cites many reasons in her blog at http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html .
Thinking about the rage and the riots, and reflecting on the historical revolution that separated the country I’m living in from England so long ago, I’m asking myself some questions.
- Do the youth in poor communities have freedom? Do they have representation?
- Do they have a place to work? Do they have a place to get an education?
- Do they have a place to live as they outgrow the family home?
As a mother of two young adults of my own, I know that these questions are very important to young people. We all need to feel included, respected, protected, and to see the world as a place of opportunity. A place where we can love and work and live.
Have you experienced rage, and how do you understand the riots?
You may also be interested in:
DEATH AND THE DREAM, short stories from J.J.Brown available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79628 as an ebook edition distributed by Smashwords. The paperback edition is coming soon.
12 responses to “Rage, Riots and Revolution”
on the London Insurrection of 2011(a fragment)
In a global context, the misery which informs the lives of the majority of humanity has for the most part become such a banality that human suffering itself is merely a part of the normal landscape of advanced neo-liberal capitalist societies, right next to the red and yellow ‘over one billion served’ McDonald’s sign in neon lights. As such, oppressed people themselves become objectified, overdetermined by our lot in life, looked upon as if we lack some fundamental grasp of the human condition itself, indeed, Western bourgeois subjectivity has no tolerance for those who reject its standards as universally binding. Surely the problems we face is due to our lack of proper tools for assimilation. “Look at Obama”, this in spite of the fact that Western imperialism with a Black face is still Western imperialism.
And then something remarkable happens, in the face of overwhelming odds as constituted by the structural-inert violence of established power, one of us, which then becomes some of us, refuse to accept the dehumanizing terms of our lived experience. We get in tune with that intrinsic spiritual rhythm of freedom which animates our shared humanity. The ensuing confrontation between the rebirth of a genuine human subjectivity and the tyranny of established unjust power breeds insurrection . . .
Shahid, thank you for sharing your insights on the riots here. Your thought, “intrinsic spiritual rhythm of freedom which animates our shared humanity” is inspiring and beautiful. The tendency to look for what we have in common is a great way to bring together people from widely different backgrounds.