Moving Forward: The final contribution from Sid Phoenix

14 Aug
Our final post concerning the London Riots is the third contribution from A Winter Road‘s Sid Phoenix: Moving Forward.
Us High Tea ladies went to do good deeds and volunteered in Portobello Road for Operation Cup of Tea. We mingled with kind locals, served biscuits and brought together the community through tea donated by Tea Pigs, cake donated by Hummingbirds and all served by volunteers rounded up by Chelsea and Kensington Volunteers.
In the aftermath of disaster, watching locals and non-locals alike come together and relax was a wonderful thing to behold. When Londoners take a stand, the sheer display of neighbourly love is really something astounding. Now let’s look to the future… cuppa in hand!
Moving Forward – Sid Phoenix:
In the past two days I have written two opinion pieces which The High Tea Cast have been kind enough to publish on their blog. The first was an appeal to rioters for perspective, the second a critique of a society that ignores the problems of its youth. The first was met with fairly universal agreement, often tempered by statements to the effect of “it’s a pity they won’t hear it” – the “they” being the faceless, nameless rioters. The second was more controversial, with people often trying to heap blame on government and “the system” as opposed to focusing on the lack of societal parenting that I believe to be at the core of the riots.In the calm (whether before the storm or not) after the past few days, I feel it is important that we gather around the things we agree on rather than descend to partisan disagreements as we all try and claim the riots for our own political agendas.This is the greatest danger of the aftermath. I tried to stress the point that society as a whole must take responsibility for the upbringing of its individuals if we are to move forward. Individuals are fallible – there are bad parents in the world – so when we see a child being rude on a bus, we as a society have a responsibility to tell them to stop; not to hide behind our papers, books, and iPhones. Whatever your criticism of government – and trust me, I have many, oh SO many – surely you do not disagree with this. Regardless of whether or not you agree it is the cause of the riots, you must agree that it is in and of itself a good idea.

In the next days, weeks, and months many, many people will come forward with their particular “cause for the riots”. With the best intentions in the world, they run a very strong risk of drowning each other out and homogenising in to one deafening mass that will go completely unheard by government. So government will continue to do whatever it wants, caving only to the most hysterical of requests.

Why? Why do we all feel the need to dig our heels in and shout our particular answer and suggestions as indignant gospel? Because, much like the rioters, we all feel that government is not listening to us – that they seem to be working to some agenda of their own which is not completely in line with anyone except themselves.

This is the very definition of the issues inherent in the current system – NO ONE is happy. We all feel very strongly that things should be very different, very quickly. We are all disillusioned with those in power. We all feel that the current state of affairs is completely unsatisfactory. We are all frustrated by how little we feel we can change. This is universal, and completely irrelevant of upbringing – hence my point that the issues in government are not the root of the riots per se, as the riots themselves are a warped, horrific, immature and underdeveloped manifestation of feelings we all share. What is so tragic is our apparent inability to look at the bigger picture and put differences aside to work on the points we agree on.

The one thing that seems to be increasingly apparent to us all is that at its very core capitalism as we know it does not function. Some of you advocate a resource based economy such as the one proposed by The Venus Project (, others take a more moderate approach and simply believe that we need to reign in the absurd levels of corporate power. Myself, I believe we should utterly remove the fallacious legal assumption that a corporation has the same rights as an individual: it does not, nor does the legal system owe it the same protections.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum you lean towards you cannot help but acknowledge that the current state of affairs is unsustainable and requires change.

Yet as soon as change is proposed, what happens? We all decide our way is best, refuse to listen, to compromise – we come up with our own ideas and then decide they are infallible – and so the machine grinds on. When the opportunity for substantial change finally presents itself, no one is entirely satisfied with it, meaning the horrifically simplistic argument of “better the devil you know” proves alarmingly effective – and so the machine grinds on.This is the danger we face in the aftermath of the riots. The danger that despite all the debate, all the yelling, all the analysis, all the reporting, all the discussion, all the suggestions – nothing will change. We will continue exactly the way we always have, only slightly angrier, slightly more paranoid, slightly more mistrusting of our neighbours.So I beg of you, do not pick one idea and fight hand tooth and nail. Do not succumb to the erroneous notion that there is one universal answer – there is not. Immerse yourself in the myriad of suggestions that are bound to emerge and grab hold of any and all that appeal to you. There are petitions springing up everywhere, they take less than two minutes to fill out – do so. Any idea that you find that you agree with, take a minute to share it on any forum you frequent. This is how we will find common ground – the ideas that speak to us all WILL be heard. If we all vote for everything we believe in, everything we agree with, certain universally held beliefs will emerge.This is the true nature of democracy – we do not vote for an individual, or a party, or a policy – we vote for ideas.And ideas can come from anywhere.

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