The London Riots and Storytelling

I don’t live in England (obviously) but I’m finding myself glued to my computer trying to read up on all I can about the London Riots happening right now. If you haven’t heard about them, then I would suggest you take to Twitter and search #londonriots. Or, you know, watch the news.

The thing I find most interesting about them is that the unifying reason for the riots is unclear. If you remember the protests in the Middle East this year, they were all fighting for the same thing.

But with the London Riots, I’ve heard people say “other people in the system are taken care of financially by the government, so why shouldn’t we?” in regards to their own financial straits. A lot of people say this is why TV’s are being stolen, electronics, clothes, and so on. Then somewhere in there it seemed to become a race issue, with several Pakistani men being run over to the point of death. Immediately there was racial outcry – “it was this race’s fault, or that one. Let’s get revenge!”

I’m sure many of you have seen the video of the young man bleeding on a sidewalk. It seems as though several other men are helping him to his feet, then they proceed to steal from his backpack and leave him there, still bleeding from his face. If you haven’t seen the footage, check it out here.

It’s horrifying, and it really shows you what we as human beings are capable of when pushed far enough. What are they fighting for? What really started this? Who cares? They’re in distress and unheard and taking to extreme measures to be seen and listened to.

It makes me wonder about situations like this in storytelling. Because the media are vilifying the rioters, and the rioters are vilifying the government. The government under Cameron cut a lot of spending on public affairs programs, as well as spending on the police force. But the rioters are breaking into people’s shops and stealing their livelihood as what? A way of making the government pay for those spending cuts?

Everyone is the villain and everyone is the victim. THIS is why there can be no bad guys without reason, no villains whose sole purpose for wanting to destroy the world is, well, destroying the world. It doesn’t work that way. People don’t work that way. We all have reasons for what we do, even if what we are doing is looting someone’s shop and stealing their goods. Everyone is right.

And everyone is wrong.


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