The internet is full of reports of the riots in English cities over the last few nights, as well as more reports about the dire state of western economies after the US downgrade and the Euro debt crisis. But maybe there is a link here?
No doubt the analysis of the riots will point to the impact of young people who feel society has nothing to offer them, the impact of government cuts (though expenditure is currently higher than it was when the coalition took over) and the fear of austerity. More tellingly there will be references to the impact of moral relativism, unstable family upbringing and the identity issues many young men feel.
I wonder if the underlying issue is the sense of connection; the degree to which we feel a part of what is going on. Feeling that we have a stake in our society and that the structures of society represent or include us. In the UK I fear we have lost the sense of representative democracy and local participation, things that create a sense of being in this together, in favour of more selfish attitude which looks out for personal gratification whatever the cost. At a European finance level this same tension is ripping at the Euro as the electorates in the constituent member states distrust the actions of their governments and the German government, in particular, questions how far it is willing to pay or subsidise the southern European states.
From a theological point of view notions of community and fellowship arise from our sharing in the dynamic relationship of God; the importance for this at a political level is in the need for people to have a shared sense of ownership, one that arises from participating in something together.
Beyond the headlines I wonder how we can build a society where everyone feels they have a sense of connection to it, everyone feels they have a shared interest in working for the greater good. A diversity which recognises that everyone has a contribution to make.
I’m off on holiday, hoping that the riots have ceased and confident that the European leaders have kicked the can down the road long enough to keep the Euro intact till September when I pay the credit card bill.