I watched as a word gathered in clusters on twitter before spreading like riot inspired wildfire - 'Mindless'.
"Those Mindless Bastards"
"A bunch of mindless thieves"
Using the word 'mindless' to describe the behaviour of rioters and looters serves several purposes, the major one being - it excuses the user of the word from any attempt at understanding events. If it's mindless then there's no reason or logic it can be confronted with, nothing can be done to identify it emerging in the future, so we may as well just lock the 'mindless' up and throw away the key. There's no need to address the cultural, socio-economic or political issues - it's mindless. There are many in Britain who will describe the rioting and looting as mindless because to do otherwise would necessitate them confronting issues they are not comfortable with or which threaten to destabilise their own personal philosophy and view of reality. Nowhere will this become more evident over the forthcoming weeks than with certain politicians - who will undoubtedly litter their sentences with the word 'mindless' given any opportunity.
Let me make it clear that I am not condoning the riots and looting of the last few days - the sight of a young woman leaping from the upstairs of a blazing home, the depressing destruction of so many properties should fill everyone with revulsion - but once so filled do we then write it off as 'mindless', or do we square up to our responsibility where the future is concerned and address the underlying issues, the causes?
No behaviour is truly mindless - the reason, the motive, behind any behaviour, may not be instantly apparent to you or I, but rest assured they exist in the mind of the one carrying out the so called 'mindless' actions. We shouldn't project our own failure to understand their actions onto them. To do so as I have said, is to shed any responsibility you may have in correcting it. There are those in society who are acutely aware the rioting and looting is not mindless but will continue to describe it as such so long as it serves their political purposes.
We have a choice then - to dismiss the last few days as 'mindless' activity or we can do the responsible thing and try to understand it and offer the hope of preventing it in the future.
Like so many others watching London burn - my heart sank. I felt sorry for those affected and sorry in particular for ordinary people caught up in it, the family owned businesses being looted without hesitation and little discrimination other than discrimination based on the value of their pickings. It struck me then, that the economic policy which promised 'Wealth will trickle down' had failed. All that has trickled down is greed. It's one of the first things we should address if we genuinely want to understand 'Why?' and remove the meaninglessness of the word mindless.