Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confessions, Perspectives and Observations

This particular blog entry is fairly difficult for me to write. I've read among other bloggers that often-times, followers start to feel as if they "own" the people they follow. I've even read someone's comments on a blog, where they trashed the blogger for not using their suggestions/demands. I considered all of those things before taking the plunge and putting my thoughts out on a blog. 

 Life in America has taught me that there are some things that are considered "hot button" topics and I usually prefer to stay away from them. Politics is one of them. When I first moved to the UK, I had an epic series of marvelous misadventures with British bureaucracy. When I mentioned that I was considering registering a complaint about the process, a family member advised me "it's best to keep your head below the parapet." I couldn't help but think, that it's when people begin to be afraid of complaining about the government, that they end up with a government that they aren't happy with. 

Riots aren't a new phenomenon and those happening around England right now, surely won't be the last.  There is a lot of conjecture about the root cause of the riots locally and internationally. There are articles condemning the rioters (or looters as some prefer) and others who explain why the rioters exist in the first place. What I haven't seen a lot of articles addressing, is what to do in response to these riots other than punishing those doing the rioting. 

In these astonishingly tough economic times, throwing more money at the problem seems impossible and unsustainable. Since so many people agree that those participating in the riots are youths who feel abandoned by their communities, I hope those communities can reconnect with the youths through increased volunteerism at the very least. 

I've made some observations as an immigrant about some differences between here and America. I was shocked to discover that the people don't get to directly vote on any legislation when obviously there are numerous laws that a lot of the public seem very dissatisfied with. As an American, I may not have gotten to vote on every law that came to pass, but at least I did have the option from time to time. 

A couple of the laws here in the UK that most of the populace seem to be displeased with, have to do with child welfare. 

1st law: I was beyond surprised to discover that a teacher isn't allowed to touch a student in any form or fashion unless they have a witness at hand. I could be wrong, but as I understand it, if a student falls over, that teacher isn't allowed to help them up or check on any injuries until a witness arrives. I can only imagine the implications if you're dealing with younger children who may have bathroom accidents and need assistance changing their clothes. 

2nd system of laws: Parents seem to operate under the constant imminent threat of child services if a child looks like they might even be slightly close to being disciplined. I watched horrified as a child in the super market the other evening, began screaming as if his father was ax murdering him, "Stop it! Let go of me!" Seriously, I have never heard a kid scream that loud without being seriously injured. Yet, we all could see all the father was doing, was holding his hand and escorting him extremely calmly from the building. The Dad didn't even have a tense jaw. I don't know how he maintained that kind of calm. But you could clearly feel the unease within the super market as everyone watched on. 

I'm glad that child abuse is something that is taken very seriously here but sometimes I think we can take the common sense out of things and distort the intent of legislation. Once upon a time, religion was a tool used by governments to control the populace. (In some places that's still the case). Regardless of whether one agrees with the legitimacy of religion, it did at the very least, teach a respect for authority. With religion clearly on the decline in the UK, what is left to fill its place when we remove a parents and school's ability to fill that gap? That's my perspective. 

Love it, hate it, completely indifferent? Or do you have a completely different set of thoughts about it? And do you have any ideas on how to rebuild a sense of belonging to a community?


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