Rage, Riots and Revolution

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 thoughts on “Rage, Riots and Revolution

  1. People before profits. We are seeing violence & crime on the rise. People are frustrated. The gap between the rich and the poor seems to be ever widening. At the moment the philosophy seems to be profits before people. Affordable health care, education, and fair work wages should not be things people have to beg or negotiate for, it should be the humane and compassionate thing to do. There is an escalation and “cause and effect” mechanism that begins when the population doesn’t have a decent quality of life. What are we to expect when so many are below the poverty line as Cynthia alluded to. I recently saw a photo on the internet of an obese man sitting on a recliner with a large bag of potato chips sitting on a recliner. The caption below read: “Do you want to pay for this man’s healthcare.” My answer is yes. I want to help everyone, no one should be turned away from a hospital and left to die because they can’t afford heath care. It’s a matter of morals for me, it’s the right thing to do. I can only hope governments and corporations who acquire large sums of wealth in many cases based off slave labor, see things the same way.

  2. Your post is sensitive to the complexity of these riots. I’m in Scotland as I write, where there are, as yet, no riots (though one botched attempt in Dundee), but there is definitely rage – about a bloated political system (which offers little in the way of legitimate protest), about rising under-employment and unemployment, especially for those under 25, and about commuities that are just dying through lack of hope for a viable future. People look worn, tired and sick. Coming back to Scotland for a visit after living in the US for 8 years feels like walking right back into the 1980s and Thatcher’s Britain – there’s a sense of segregation (new ethnic groups have migrated to Scotland but are not integrated at all), disenfranchisement (the promise and hope of deveolution has dissipated) and resentment (the gap between the haves and have-nots has widened). What’s changed in Scotland, and has no doubt influenced the trajectory of the riots in England, is that as unbridled consumerism has grown (no wonder, then, that social media was used to incite greed, as appeared to be the case), labor unions have declined, so young people have less direct experience and are exposed to fewer examples of effective forms of collective action and organized social protest.

    1. Hi Alex, I didn’t know you were in Scotland this summer and thank you for sharing your experience there. Effective collective action and an organized protest is like a set of skills and mentors are so needed.

  3. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same happen here in the states, Jennifer. My daughter manages a medical clinic where poor and rich can get treatment, but she and my son, who both work, cannot afford to. And my daughter must pay for her own school, which is almost impossible for her, yet many who attend have wealthy parents who pay for them, or they are poor and the government pays for them. This injustice is a constant source of anger for both my children – who are struggling young adults.
    There’s an increasing pressure on the middle class in this country. If one can’t be one of the wealthy, it’s almost better not to work, as so many government agencies exist to help the destitute. Food stamps, section 8, Access health care, all are denied to those who work and make at least 22K a year, which is actually living in poverty, here.
    The riots in England may soon find their way Stateside, if things don’t change for the better soon.
    Good post, as always.

    1. Cynthia thank you for sharing the family experience. I’m hoping things change for the better and looking for ways to help, a massive shift in focus seems to be underway globally this year.

  4. Where to begin. I will focus on what’s happening and what that means to me. For starters I have been waiting for this to happen but not necessarily in the U.K. Protest is cyclical and each time is worse. The most startling aspect today is the apparent ages. The technology has reached deeper into the gene pool and kids are not kids anymore in any traditional sense. On some level the wired environment is good and can be the extension of a hand to nurture guide and protect. The downside may be that what needs protecting is now too big. Conscious without innocence is unbridled and can manifest in fear. The fear is reaching a boiling point.

    1. Sometimes I think we’ve use the category “youth” and “kids” to loosely. In some cultures a human being is valued with full rights at a much earlier age, and I feel a great need for more respect is out there for rights of the people who are younger than those in power.

  5. I think the working class and those who through no choice of our own are supporting the poor through the so called governments and people seeing a small handful get incrediably rich through ill gotten means at everyones expense, enrages us all. The poor or youth striking out at small buisness owners and members of the actual working class that pay taxes, is miss guided and the wrong target. I agree the young need provided with viable avenues to be needed through either education, work, or the military.

    1. Thomas thank you for your comments here. All that energy and so few peaceful avenues to flow into, a real disaster for some. We so badly need to engage in education and productive works. I for one, go completely insane when I’m not working, honestly. It doesn’t have to be paid work all the time but it has to be work I’m dedicated to and that’s “important” to me and relevant to my world in some way.


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