Stop blaming only the poor for the riots

Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales has strong words from establishment figures in the U.K. who are blaming the August riots solely on the lack of morals amongst the poor. He challenges the "elite" to put their own house in order first, and to see to their own moral compasses before they call for the adjustment of others'.

"He told the Western Mail: “I don’t want to condone the behaviour of those who have destroyed property or killed people. On the other hand I believe we have to ask deeper questions, ‘What causes young people, and really young people, to behave in such a desperate way, to behave in a way which they think is acceptable?’

“What causes people to feel so desperate that they can go out and not care about the consequences? There are pockets of our cities that are totally deprived, where our poor feel they have nothing to lose.

“And we have to ask what sort of moral example are they being set by those in authority or positions of power? Headline after headline over the past few years has revealed a society made ‘sick’ by greed and selfishness from the top down.

“We’ve got bankers who’ve been helping themselves to excessively large and unjustified bonuses, MPs exploiting the expenses system and effectively stealing from the public purse, and senior police officers resigning over newspaper phone-hacking scandals. So any plan to tackle the ‘moral collapse’ is likely to fall on deaf ears without a clean sweep of the boardrooms as well as the streets.”"

More here.

Jesus says something about motes and eyes that seems to fit here.

Comments (6)

No offense, but (something offensive)

I don't mean to condone but (condones something)

No excuses for anyone. We all know other people do bad things. Doesn't give anyone carte blanche to do the same.

I'm not comfortable with the word "poor" in your headline, Nick. Certainly wouldn't say the participants were the poorest of the poor in British society, and they were nearly all youths.

I completely agree that the elite have set a, um, poor example... from Enron's phony books to rating agencies giving phony ratings (AAA for toxic assets?!) to banks creating systemic risks that resulted in the financial meltdown that led to the great world wide recession to countries living beyond their means (why? To coddle their populations with government services without being honest about how they'd be paid for) creating debt crises.

Jeremiah 31:30 would also apply here. It's kind of sad that the Archbishop never seems to have read it.

The Bishop of Wales makes a good point. CEOs, politicians and society's upper crust pilfer and plunder no less than those rioters on the street, and often a great deal more deeply and more devastatingly. The only difference is, the first group doesn't smash windows or set fires while doing so, so there's little to no media coverage or public outrage over their immorality. In fact, they are likely to be applauded in many quarters as "decent citizens" and "go-getters" who "deserve" their "success."

Noblesse oblige. Nobility obligates. Leadership by example. Today's upper classes are in no position to wag a moralizing finger at the lower classes while they're not practicing ethics and self-restraint themselves. They need to look at the bigger picture as to what might drive people to behave in such a manner -- and listen to, rather than ignore or dismiss, them. As one rioter in London noted to a reporter, "A few weeks ago, 2,000 young black people peacefully marched to Scotland Yard in protest, but there wasn't one word about it in the media. Well, you're here now, aren't you?"

"Do not be arrogant; be willing to associate with common people" (Romans 12:16). And think: the sin of our own greed, gluttony and selfishness just might be what drives fellow human beings into the sin of antisocial and criminal behavior. "Whatever you eat or drink or do, do it all to God's glory. But do not cause anyone to stumble, be they Jews, Gentiles or the church of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31-32). Maybe making do with a less and making sure others who don't have get a bit more is the way to go? After all, we are told: "Anyone who has two shirts is to give one to someone who has none" (Luke 3:11).

No excuses for anyone. We all know other people do bad things. Doesn't give anyone carte blanche to do the same.

But do we CARE---as in, get all moralizing and finger-wagging and "Hang 'em!"---when the POWERFUL do bad thing, as when teenagers (generally non-wealthy, at least) do so?

Did anyone hear PM Cameron sermonizing in the Commons re his buddies the Murdochs, as w/ he did w/ rioting youth? Who LOOTED more: a few hundred teens for a few days, or greedy investment bankers and hedgefund managers for a decade (or more)?

It's the SENSE OF PROPORTION, Dave, which is entirely out of whack. And I think that's what ++Morgan is getting at.

JC Fisher

John B Chilton

As a Guardian analysis of the data indicates (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/18/england-rioters-young-poor-unemployed), those arrested are mainly from poor neighbourhoods, and many are unemployed.

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