On Rioting.

Wow, two serious posts in a row.  Sorry about that.

When I look at post-riot London (or Birmingham or Nottingham or Liverpool or…) it reminds me of what a city looks like both pre- and post- hurricane.  Windows boarded up, trash everywhere, and the street looks as if the hand of a diety swooped in and cut down everything over a certain height.  You get a lot of news pre- and post-hurricane.  Often of the same tired, terrified people gabbering away about how they survived and hollering that the government should come down and fix things.  Politicians will show up, often grossly overdressed in comparison to the people who may only have one or two sets of clothes, to promise food-shelter-money.  You get hotlines.  You get charities.  It’s all very exciting.

And then the cameras go home and the slow, painful process of cleaning up begins.

The part the news doesn’t cover (or does but every 5 years as a 15 minute retrospective) is that it takes a long time to cleanup.


Not a few weeks or a few months, but years.

And since the hurricane this time was England’s youth, it may be ten years or more before real improvement is seen.  Unlike the category 3+ that may have hit the shores, this hurricane is still around and could fester at a moments notice over anything.

Pretty scary stuff.

In the US we have Hurricane Trackers.  Super-duper-mega-dopplers that point out in all directions and people who tell us where the eye of the storm is and which way it is – or isn’t – tracking.  People cheer when the storm misses them by a few hundred miles or try to flee when the storm points right at them.

But we don’t have trackers for this.  We can’t have trackers for this.  (It would be a little too weird if they even thought up how to track this.)

When I first moved to Texas I moved in an election year.  An item on the ballot was a $2.00 tax per year to sort out the city’s drainage problem.  People didn’t want to pay $2.00 so the project was scraped.  Less than two years later a tropical storm came along, sat on the city for a day, and flooded it.  I remember watching a car float down Fannin Street in a slow spinning motion.  It was surreal.

Because people didn’t want to pay $2.00 lots of people lost their homes, their businesses, and the hospitals nearby went through things I dare not write about.

We knew the storm was coming and we didn’t do anything about it anyway.  There is a very good chance that lots of people saw these riots coming, but they didn’t want to put in their $2.00.

And that is really all it takes.  $2.00 can be 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days of giving something back to the community.  Just something small, a tiny bit of change, and the storm can grow smaller – maybe even die out altogether.

We’re always warned when Hurricane Season approaches to have a backpack full of essentials and a battery-powered radio so we can get directions on what to do in a storm.  In this instance our essentials should be a backpack full of good intentions, well thought-out plans, and the ability to forgive if we make mistakes.  We can build sea walls of communities so long as people are willing to give a small bit of themselves.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.


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