London’s burning: Heartbreak in the city.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
London is a big place…and it’s home to us all.
I feel blessed to have called London home twice in my life now…but I’m not the only one. My friend Amanda, another American transplant from Virginia/Texas/Seattle. My friends Justin and Chris, both fellow travel bloggers from the great southern continent of Australia. My friend Jen from Ontario, who spends her days as a social worker trying to help broken families put their homes back together (and wrote about the riots here).
We’ve all left families and friends behind to live in a city we believe is worth living in–a city known for its endless opportunities and vibrant multiculturalism. We’re all tucked away in different parts, be it southwest, way up north, out east or somewhere at the end of the District Line.
But tonight, none of that mattered. Because tonight, no matter how disparate our post codes in a city of eight million, London is home to us all.
We’re all in this together.
Anyone who knows me well is familiar with my love-hate relationship with social media. Sometimes, I struggle to see the relevance of things like Twitter–the never-ending conversations and endlessly “engaging” with your “audience.” But tonight, I sat on my bed, absolutely glued to Facebook and Twitter, and was unable to pull away…for nearly an hour. Why? Why this sudden change of heart?
Because of the way it brings people together. Suddenly, my news feed and Twitter timeline were a place for people to connect–“Fulham guys, any news?”–“How are things in Deptford?”–“All is quiet in Wandsworth.” Well wishes were pouring in from friends as nearby as the southern coast of England, to as far away as the States, Canada and Australia…and it was amazing to witness.
As temporary police commissioner Tim Godwin just said himself: “normally Londoners do stand up together.”
Let’s fight for a cause worth fighting for.
As the events of the past three days have unfolded, and then seemingly escalated even further all this evening, I couldn’t figure out what exactly it was that bothered me so much about the violence and destruction.
My mind kept going to the scenes of protests we saw throughout the Arab Spring earlier this year, the cries for freedom and justice that kept being raised from places like Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan…and then to the images from London: the senseless smashing of windows, looting, destroying people’s homes, businesses and livelihoods. What was it that was so unsettling?
And then it hit me. The London Rioters have no cause. What are they uniting against, or for, or in the name of?
This is exactly the point made by one West Indian woman against the looters. Incredibly, someone captured her speech on video:
“She’s working hard to make her business work, and then you lot wanna go and burn it up. For what? Just to say that you’re a warrior, that you’re a bad man? Get it real, get real…do it for a cause. If we’re fighting for a cause, let’s fight for a cause…We’re not all gathering together and fighting for a cause. We’re running down Foot Locker.”
I was grateful to see that as one of the trending hashtags on Twitter tonight…and pray I will. Tonight, I don’t think I’m the only one sending up prayers for peace, purpose, compassion, understanding, and love.
Love for what makes this city so great in the first place…
Top photograph courtesy of the Telegraph