Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Nobody really wants to read another essay on riots this morning. It has often been the role of this blog to draw attention to things on the periphery of major events. So I want to recall a chilling image I saw on TV on Sunday night. Unexpectedly chilling and not because of blood or violence.

A sports retailer had been vandalised and people were looting. An adult and a child approached the camera with a shopping trolley containing many pairs of trainers. The adult female then paused and, in full view of the camera, appeared to take out a pair of trainers and offer them to the child to try on.

I was awestruck. The whole scene suggested a caring mother buying trainers for her son. The reality was theft. I suspect that the adult knew that what she was doing was wrong. What did the child learn? Are we really all thieves who have not yet had an opportunity? A commentator on twitter called this 'recreational looting.'

It was what happened in Iraq after the liberating army passed through and we poured scorn.

I am encouraged this morning by the twitter hashtag #riotcleanup. People are spontaneously getting together to help tidy up. Some are suggesting they are wrong to do it without protective clothing, insurance and permission but what the hell?

'Those who have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work doing something useful with their hands...' (Ephesians 4:28 and my paraphrase).

Most of us can tell right from wrong and try to choose right most of the time.

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