Morality and riots
August 10, 2011
“When I get home nothing is going to happen to me. I'll keep doing this every day until I get caught” — words told by a rioter in Manchester to BBC correspondent Nick Ravenscroft, as police battled to keep control of the streets. What makes a person act with such impunity? What turns a law-abiding citizen into a criminal, overnight? Can what is happening in England happen in Bermuda?
Sadly, most of us would agree that it can happen in Bermuda. It only takes three things: 1. social and/or financial downslide; 2. a morality vacuum; and 3. a trigger, powder-keg event. Number 1 is in place. Number 3 may be around the corner. Our only hope lies in urgently addressing number 2.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is criminality pure and simple.” But it may not be so simple. A London youth said: “They call it looting and criminality. It's not that. There's a real hatred against the system. It's us versus them.” (The Royal Gazette, August 10, 2011). While governments (ours included) wrestle valiantly with Number 1 above, our families, schools, and churches must wrestle aggressively with Number 2. What do I mean by a morality vacuum? Just ask Shaunte Simons, Miss Teen Bermuda Islands 2011. I was encouraged to read, “She wants to be a role model for the youth of today. I want to teach them moral responsibility.” (The Royal Gazette, August 9, 2011).
The cry has come for church people to take their morality beyond church walls.
I believe that Shaunte, a member of St David's Glory Temple New Testament Church, is doing that; and, along with other churches, so are we. Last Friday we began a three-week series entitled 'The Future of the Family' — it is being held in a tent at White Hill Field, Somerset. Last Saturday we hosted a Young Adult Summit — we held it in Victoria Park and included community projects. This weekend we are hosting 'Love For A Lifetime' Marriage Retreat at Willowbank. Then beginning this Saturday at Berkeley Institute, we are hosting Choices II, an action-packed fun, faith, and fellowship week, 6pm to 9pm nightly, for 13 to 17-year-olds, teenagers of all faiths and no faith (see sdayouthbermuda.org). I urge you to attend or volunteer.
These children are emerging adults who want to be independent, but there is still a connection. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. Now is the time to pump life-giving, morality-building nutrients into them — while we still can. Then, with a morality like Shaunte's, we can walk past a vandalised shop without stealing from it. We can march peacefully in a town without looting it. We can comfort an injured bystander without robbing him. We can be upset at a child or woman without abusing her. And we can disagree with a fellow human being without killing him. Now is the time — because the test comes to all of us.
JEFFREY O BROWN
President, Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bermuda