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Reluctant Leadership

“The beginning of wisdom is silence. The second stage is listening”

by Andy Mort | 2 Comments

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed I have been fairly quiet over the past week. I have both been at a loss for words and equally full of reactions and knee-jerk responses to the things I have been following on the news.

It has been a week fully-charged with emotion for many of us, and during periods like this I find it healthy and sensible to take a step back and not allow myself to get caught up in the irrational hatred and fear of my fellow man. I made this decision after sitting down to write some reflections on the rioting because I had been asked by a few people what I thought about it all. It dawned on me that I had nothing to say, and that it probably wasn’t a time to say anything at all.

So I have kept quiet.

My Twitter and Facebook feeds were filling up with malicious vitriol and the ironic language of violence and as they did so it became clear to me that we are all a part of this, we are all to blame and that there is a terrible hypocrisy permeating the very fabric of our lives together. It is not a time to speak alone, but a time to join together and to listen. Everyone seems to have an opinion and we are all shouting, often mindlessly, into the wind, so I decided to collect together some of the positive and interesting voices that I was hearing and to just listen some more.

This is not a comprehensive list, just a bunch of stuff that I have found really interesting. It would be great if you could post anything that you have read, seen, heard etc that has made you think. I am also aware that it is very easy to just read things you agree with ( watch this talk by Eli Pariser about online filter bubbles to see how we are essentially indoctrinating ourselves with more of what we think we believe online), so I’d love to hear about things that have challenged your assumptions and made you question your initial responses. As Dick Cavett said, “It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear”, and I think it’s a time for us to attempt to acquire this very desire.

Please add your own in the comments, I am still listening. I will add anything to the post if I find it appropriate. Thanks.

Shiv Malik talks to people on the streets about sources of frustration.

Owen Jones, Author of ‘Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class’ on why the riots are a catastrophe for everyone except the right.

Marianne English talking about the psychology of crowds. Thoughts from Jack Levin, an expert on violence.

Peter Oborne reminding us that moral decay is prevalent through all of society and we would do well to look at the top as well as the bottom.

Symon Hill of the Ekklesia think tank on our need to understand what is really happening and not respond with more violence.

Penny Red, a London based journalist on the politics of the riots. Reminds me of a tweet from @insaland “The fact there is NO political motive- makes it seem even more political” – where people are looking for a simple political message and fail to find one there is a much deeper sense of a political cry at work.

Nina Power of the Guardian, an early article about context.

Mary Riddell writing in the Telegraph about the lack of surprise in all of this.

Russell Brand with some interesting insights, albeit written through a hypocritical fog, and the otherside of the world.

The amazing response of Tariq Jahan after the death of his son, Haroon Jahan, in Birmingham on the 9th August.

Keegan from The London Vandal on gaps in education, wealth and the exclusion of the young working class of all races.

Dougald Hine on the clean up movement, talks about the fact that we cannot just desire things to get back to normal after all of this.

Sheldon Thomas, director of TAG, knows better than anyone what is happening to a ‘dissaffected underclass that our country has forgotten, if indeed they were ever even counted’.

A great video of a spontaneous street debate in Clapham. Truly inspiring to see the different voices given a chance.

Highly appropriate RSAnimate video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about the need to change education paradigms. Inspiring.

  • Judemunday

    an article by Patrick Regan on the poverty of hope

  • Sam

    Thanks for this collection. I belong to the louds who gave vent to their self-righteous indignation.

    I too was heartened by Tariq Jahan’s response and the brooms, but that’s been about all the good I’ve seen. I was brought up to always see the context, be merciful, understand. I think there’s always a place for this.

    People are different: Some start at the bottom of the ladder and some are born on rung 15. What’s the solution? Certainly, encouraging people to take the opportunities given them, creating more opportunities for people at the bottom of the ladder. Everyone’s agreed on that. But when people commit crime they should be punished. That’s part of our ladder-system. Show me a world where there is no prison – I don’t think it’s possible. Without prison we make the self-control and hard work of others meaningless. Why should I work if I can deal? Why save when I can loot?

    So the different political parties try to find a way to keep the economy going, having the combination of a free market and prison system which encourages the middle class to keep on climbing in their semi-luxury bubble rather than cheating. Similarly all parties are committed in some way to a social democracy , i.e. encouraging and creating opportunities for those on the bottom rung of the ladder and helping those who have fallen off.

    But take I away the “punishment” and “evil” rhetoric then I’m making a mockery of the ladder-system. And there is, as far as I can see, no alternative to this system except tribal anarchy. I believe the violence and power of the state in detaining criminals is a small price to pay when we look at the utopian alternatives. This caught my eye just today:

    Thus I think that David Cameron’s rhetoric is spot-on.