Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Ashamed and Outraged

Today, I feel ashamed to be English. Rioting and looting going on in the name of 'justice'? Wild, and misguided youngsters stealing and committing acts of violence against their communities in cities of which we are supposed to be proud? Law-abiding citizens seeing their businesses go up in smoke, their property being destroyed, their livelihoods and lives threatened? To say that these yobs are behaving like animals is an insult to animals.

And some of them mere children, too? As a teacher, I always feel a sense of responsiblity that my job isn't only about teaching the structures of complex and compound sentences. or exploring the historical and cultural contexts of a society that produced our literary classics. It's about trying to instil some sense of moral and social code in youngsters who don't have that guidance from their own parents (and believe me, there are lots of them out there.) It's about trying to show this new generation that there is more to life than owning the latest mobile phone or gaming system, than watching reality TV shows that promise fame and fortune for everyone, than living their friendships through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or their ambitions through DVD games like Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft. But it's difficult - are they prepared to listen to an old fogey who keeps hens and bees, grows her own veg, reads books and likes making cakes and growing a few flowers? And who doesn't even know her own mobile phone number and cancelled her Facebook account after 6 months because she could see the aggravation it was causing?

It's not easy to say...

No, it is not okay to take someone else's property just because you want it and can't be bothered to save for it yourself, or earn your own money because that will take time and you want it NOW.

No, it is not okay to verbally abuse someone because it is 'funny', because it 'amuses' you, because you lack the empathy to understand the distress you are causing someone else.

No, it is not okay to taunt someone to the verge of tears, because you are bored and want a bit of excitement in your life, because you enjoy winding someone up for revenge or whatever other petty and pathetic excuse you can come up with to justify your behaviour.

No, it is not okay to blame someone else for your revolting behaviour just because you can't be bothered to put in the effort to learn how to behave in a civilised manner towards your fellow human beings.

No, it is not okay to spread gossip and rumours about each other because she said that he said that she said that someone else told them that someone else said that she said that because he said that.

Teachers spend almost as much time sorting out the arguments and poor behaviour of a minority of their students as they do trying to teach their subject to the majority. I would be lying if I said this situation wasn't demoralising.

Of course, the majority of our students are well-behaved. They want to learn. They know how to be courteous, they know the value of education, and whilst some may not in possession of the greatest brains in the world, they will always try their best and that's all that can be asked.

But it doesn't take many to spoil the endeavours of the majority. For I think that the majority of British citizens are law-abiding and respectful, that we go about our daily lives working hard, paying bills and taxes, caring for our environments, policing our lives so as not to upset and inconvenience anyone else. And it's us that will be paying for this vile behaviour of the few. We'll be lumbered with rising insurance costs and council tax bills. We'll be clearing up the physical mess if we inadvertently get caught up in some yob's path of destruction. And these yobs are the parents of the next generation.

I'm lucky, really. I have a good family, good friends, a job and a brain. I have a nice little house on the edge of a town (although I woudln't want to be in the middle of that town in the wee small hours at a weekend.)

What can I do for this country that I love? Keep teaching? Keep praying? Switch off Radio 4 and confine listening to the comedy stations?

I don't know.

God Bless England. I think, at the moment, she needs it.


LynneFtWorth said...

Saying prayers as I type that all will be settled and the violence stopped. Keeping you close to my heart today.

Olly said...

Very well put, Denise. Hear, hear.

Denise said...

Many thanks to you both. It's a very sad situation, and one of those occasions that I fear for the kind of world my grand-daughter is going to inherit.