There has been much discussion of the causes of the recent riots in London, and other English cities, with various politicians' knees jerking as they interpret what has happened through the lenses of their pre-existing prejudices and seek to make political capital as best they may. Much has been written - and some of it sensible - about the multiple causes.
However, I can now reveal the root causes of these riots. They are three: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
The World has been prominent in much of the discussion. Someone coined the phrase 'shopping with violence' as a way of describing the consumer mentality of many of the looters. Others have pointed to the complete lack of morality of the rich and the governing classes as a part of the mix, along with media which have abandoned any of the values articulated (say) at the establishment of the BBC, and instead panders to the popular, with ratings as the most lauded criterion of success. The World inhabited by the rioters is almost incoherent. Their aspirations are conditioned by consumerism and greed, their poverty almost decreed by their parents' (especially absentee fathers') lack of engagement with them, and their social identity formed more by street and gang culture than any family formation.
The Flesh has also played its part. On the most immediate level is the instant gratification of 'I want it and I can take it, there fore I will,' with no heed for the implications or consequences of actions. The Times carried a revealing interview with a young woman who had taken a television just because she could. The (unregulated) Flesh is also responsible for the excitement young men feel when in a mob or gang: the surge of adrenalin and power that makes indulging the passion of the moment (assaulting a policeman, starting a fire, destroying a bus...) hugely exhilerating. And stepping back a bit, the Flesh is also responsible for the breakdown of family life and the predominance of kids brought up with no relationship with their father that forms a large part of the background of this situation.
And behind all that, the Devil also has a role. Many accounts by rioters wondering how they got involved revealed a sort of surrender of the self - and when one surrenders one's self, the Devil is quick to step in. When one sees young men drive a car into other young men, whom they don't know, something diabolical is going on. Likewise when a pensioner is beaten to death for trying to put out a fire; or when a young man with a broken jaw is helped to his feet and then relieved of his possessions, with threats...
There are no sociological or political solutions that will heal this fractured society unless founded on sound spiritual understanding: we must pray and we must educate as best we can...
Cardinal Coccopalmerio's book "A disaster" - This is a must watch. "It is a disaster...it is casting aside the message of the Gospel"
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