‘Let’s make everybody’s’ lives hellish just for a good time!’

empathy [ˈɛmpəθɪ]

1. the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings

Rioting – pshaw – that’s old stuff and yet people are getting so exercised about it that you’d think this is the first time in history that assholes had torn apart cities and towns to satisfy their own selfish whims.

Yes, we could regard rioting in such a dismissive manner. When I lived in England in 1981 there were vicious and frightening riots in the Toxteth area of Liverpool, and horrific ones in Brixton, London. These riots were blamed on such esoterica as the ‘reactionary’ viciousness of Mrs. Thatcher, poverty and (always) racism. There is likely validity to all such excuses.

Paris has, of course, always been riot-central in Europe. “Aux barricades citoyens!” was first cried out in the 1848 revolution in the French capital, as paving stones were ripped up and les citoyens took to the streets to thwart injustice.

They didn’t succeed then, and they haven’t succeeded since. And therein lies the farce in such ghastly little bits of destructive ‘street theatre.’ That is, that the repressive overlords always win, one way or another. So, rioters in St. Petersburg in 1917 chucked out a Tsar, and then they turfed an inept moderately democratic provisional government, and replaced it all with a regime that was going to make tsarist days seem benevolent.

The fatal flaw in any manner of rioting is that it is ill-directed and primarily wounds ordinary people. That is exactly what happened in London (and other UK cities) recently, and it is exactly what happened in Vancouver a while back with the (as yet unpunished and will probably remain unpunished thanks to our inept legal system) so-called Stanley Cup Riot.

All the overprivileged young assholes (sorry, but ‘assholes’ is about the most benevolent descriptor I could manage here) accomplished was to terrorize the innocent; honest merchants cowering in their stores and eateries while punks ravaged what they had worked to develop.

What motivates these pricks and prickettes (for there’s goils in the mix, too)? I have no idea. But what character flaw to they demonstrate to a one? That is easy: A complete and pathological lack of empathy!

They cannot ‘get’ that people live and work in these neighborhoods. Did the yobs in London truly think that the PM, the Lord Mayor or all the titled and overindulged jerks of the realm were inconvenienced by their actions in the way that residents, shop owners and cops were? If they actually thought that, then schools are failing the young even more egregiously than one thinks they might be. As for the motivations of the drunken hockey revelers in Vancouver, I have absolutely no idea of what influenced them other than surfeits of alcohol, paucity of brain cells, and spoiled-rottenness.

But, it is lack of empathy that brings about such things. Privileged pups that have never faced real adversity themselves but are quite happy to wreak it on others in the name of – oh, I don’t know. Really I don’t.

It’s the same impulse that leads to wanton vandalism, obnoxious graffiti taggings and, yep, even littering. It’s all flagrant disregard for the happiness of one’s fellows.

So, yes, we can throw the bastards in jail, and I have no problem with that. But at the end of the day that doesn’t address the fundamental illness that causes these people to “let slip the dogs of war and cry havoc.”

That illness is the loss of empathy in our society.

I don’t know what to do about that. Do you?


13 responses to “‘Let’s make everybody’s’ lives hellish just for a good time!’

  1. I am thinking that you are giving these young people too much credibility for thought in their actions, Ian, They are totally self-centred, yes, perhaps lacking in empathy, but also lacking any vestige of thought.

  2. Hear, hear! But I’ve no idea how to address this situation, let alone cure it. But once again, as you so rightly say, the ordinary, hard-working people are those who are hurt the most.

  3. I wouldn’t go so far as to all, or even most rioters are over privileged gits. I’m sure a goodly portion of them are, but there are no doubt also lots of under privileged gits, who feel justified.

    Are they right? No. Are they morons? Yes. Will it change anything at all and affect the gits at the top of the food chain. No. not at all.

    And if ever a comment of mine went around in circles with no point whatsoever, this is the one.

    • I too have no idea how to address it. One suggestion made by a number of people is to bring back National Service. I think there’s a virtue in that suggestion.

    • I think your comment has a great deal of point. And no, they aren’t all overprivileged and poverty certainly plays a role, but enough of the bastards are pampered puppies — that was certainly the case in Vancouver, if not London — that we have to wonder what we’re doing wrong. For we are definitely doing something wrong.

  4. Empathy has to be taught. It’s a part of learning about consequences. As in, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” well before they learn to be vindictive. The consequence part is repairing what they broke, suffering because they put themselves in harm’s way, and learning about respecting other people and their stuff.

    It has to start young. It’s too late for those gits. On the other hand, those gits should not be allowed out in polite society, ever.

    • And empathy has to be taught by those who actually possess it. Personally I think it’s a virtue that escapes many self-indulgent adults. Road rage is a good example of that.

  5. Very though provoking but along with everyone else, I have no idea how to solve it. Mind you, I think banning X Factor and Big Brother would be a start!

  6. Grandmother, faced with children who ‘did not care’ would recite
    ‘Don’t care was made to care,
    Don’t care was hung.
    Don’t care was put in a pot and boiled till he was done.’

    Pity she’s not in charge…she was very strong on putting yourself in the place of others.

  7. Oh, I so agree with you. This latest generation want it and they want it now and they don’t care about anyone else. It’s incredibly sad that a generation of parents, who only wanted their children to have everything that they didn’t have, failed to realise that having it all without having to work for it only breeds contempt for society and a total lack of citizenship.

    It’s incredibly sad.

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