The recent riots in Britain, starting in London and quickly spreading to other cities in England, left many people feeling shocked, insecure and even frightened. For a short time we were reminded what life is like if laws of order (e.g. the commandments in the Bible) are not observed in our society.
Afterwards, the debate soon got going as people began asking “who is to blame”.
I listened with interest as people expressed their thoughts on where the
responsibility lay. Among the flurry of opinions a small number of people were prepared to consider deeper causes but I was disappointed that few were enabled to point out the move away from the solid ground of religious teachings towards “Relativism” in society. Most people, whipped up perhaps by emotive political statements in the media, put the blame squarely where the problem occurred.
Whereas no decent minded person would disagree with the politicians, when
they site horrific examples of crime and say this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable, this does not necessarily represent any progress in dealing with the problem. What it does achieve is to continually draw people’s minds back to the symptoms and away from the true causes.
I see a parallel here; when I worked in Social Care my colleagues and I were
given training on dealing with challenging behaviours (breaking things,
shouting or lashing out) which were frequently presented in the lives of our
Service Users (SU) i.e. people with learning disabilities. Before this training
it was common place for staff to blame any challenging behaviours squarely on the SU. The more aggressive the SU became the more assertive the worker would become until eventually the SU would be either medicated, isolated and/or removed to a secure location; but the problem always re-occurred at some later date.
Until training was made available this was a regular pattern. The training
however encouraged staff to try out new ways of communicating with SU, based on assessed levels of SU comprehension through asking them to complete basic tasks. Through these assessments we were able to develop methods of communication more suited to their abilities e.g. we would invite family, friends and people who knew them best to speak on their behalf. Once we became more pro-active in identifying and meeting their needs the challenging behaviours were very significantly reduced.
The results of the training helped me view these challenging behaviours in a
new way. I came to realise that these behaviours were actually forms of
communication; not the traditional forms of communication we value, but rather the only effective communication available to them for getting people to acknowledge their needs. It was notable that after each bout of challenging behaviour the SU would get peoples’ collective attention and their needs would then be identified and met.
I see these recent riots in Britain in much the same way. Of course we
should make it clear that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable but surely we also have a duty to try to identify and deal with the real causes. Until more members of society, at every level, begin to re-apply the spiritual principles taught by the Lord our God, not least to love our neighbour as our selves, can we not expect people to continue to express themselves in this way. Unless we become more pro-active in dealing with real causes, and stop allowing our minds to be focused on the symptoms, this will become the only way a disaffected people can get the collective attention they need to have their needs met; especially now they know it works!
My message to all those who genuinely want to address this problem is
simple; “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matt. 6:33
Copyright 2011 Revd Jack Dunion