Sunday, 20 July 2008

Not A Lone Voice On UK Society

Seeing how the UK seems to be falling rapidly into some cyberpunk scenario with a police state politcially and constant violence on our streets can be really disheartening. What makes it worse is the fact that the responses from average people are things which do not address these issues but exacerbate them: stronger legislation, more prisons, armed police, carrying weapons, etc. The populist-nationalist attitude that is really how the bulk of British people think will never blame the behaviour it fosters for so many of the problems it creates. Thus, these days it is seen as a God-given right to be able to speed in a car and consume everything with no restraint. Very few people see that they reap what they sow and the reason why they are mugged for their mobile phone or have their 4x4 broken into for the sat nav is because of the country they have helped to create. Above all, they condemn the 1960s permissiveness and laud the hard-nosed Thatcher years of the 1980s, without realising, it seems, that it was that latter decade that has caused these problems. People forget the 1960s (they are a decade that I do not like, but in comparison to the 1980s caused less long-term harm to UK society) meant greater availability to contraception and a beginning of more standing for women, so a move against underage pregnancy. It is the 1980s 'I don't give a damn' attitude especially among men which has led to the UK having the highest level of underage pregnancies in the Europe. People blame the welfare state, but in fact anyone who has lived on benefits knows that they do not make you complacent, they actually force you to work hard to get a better life. It is the greed that is so lionised in the UK that makes things worse as it is not about having a 'decent' or 'comfortable' life any more it is about 'having it all' or feeling you are failing. At no stage in history have all but a small slice of any society been able to 'have it all', the rest of us should be striving to 'having it decent' and feel successful if we achieve that.

Anyway, having been wittering on about this for so many, many years, I am finally glad to see some media coverage in step with my views. Have a look at this BBC website story from last week about greedy society: It looks at the report from Sir Alan Steer who has been investigating the issues since 2005. He shows that all adults have a role to play, not just parents, because so many of us indulge in greedy and violent behaviour as a norm. How, then, can we expect children to behave any differently. Bad pupil behaviour is the main reason why teachers leave the profession, and 40% leave after working for 2 years, so we get into an even worse spiral. Are we then surprised that there is so many stabbings of and by young people? Interesting it seemed to chime with another report from the same website about what girls attending the Girl Guides are now trained in: Organisers of the movement have noticed how girls feel compelled to dress older than they are, have the latest gadgets and indulge in fashionable neuroses such as self-harm and eating disorders in order to feel part of the 'in-crowd'. Again, they demonstrate how little the 'norm' is actually normal. We have got British society into such a state in the last 20 years that it may be impossible to pull it back from the crisis it is facing. I know things are not perfect in French, Belgian, Dutch or German societies, but it seems incredible that within an hour's journey of the UK are countries where things are not so dire as here. British people are so wrapped up in their own lives and whining about what is happening to them, that they do not see that it is they who have brought about the problems they are experiencing. Why is it alright for you to speed and to consume without end and then somehow not for a young man to try to do the same? UK is an archetypal 'do as I say, not do as I do', but in fact unsurprisingly young people behave just as we do and the whole of society pays the price.

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