I was talking about student protesters, and how I found what they were doing strangely linked to how I was feeling about Remembrance Day. And it seems even more relevant now, here in the UK - where students have been protesting the hikes in tuition fees that were voted on yesterday.
I'm currently reading Martin Luther King's autobiography (it's a collection of essays he wrote throughout his life). It's inspiring to read; to see what he achieved - and he did it through nonviolent non-cooperation. And he did that against laws and practices that were evil. The students here are protesting not against evil, but a curtailing of privilege. The rights on wrongs of both sides of the debate are being crowded out by the students and protesters who are setting fire to things, and swinging from war memorials and pissing on Winston Churchill statues. How can we have sympathy for this?
Is there any excuse for these two images?
Conflicts happen when people clash, due to difference in ideology. That is at the heart of all of this. But one side of it is governing. If the other side has a point to make, it's that they're not governing responsibly. Setting fire to things is not going to send the message.
"Our generation doesn't do that enough. We sit on Facebook, we write on our blogs and we send our text messages; but we don't have a great deal of awareness about what people have gone through in order for us to have those privileges."
I know that it is a minority of students who are doing the outrageous things. But take a closer look at that Churchill picture. There are a lot of bystanders. A lot of people accepting what is going on. When people are together for a cause; they become a group. They all need to be responsible for themselves and each other.
The reality is, perhaps, that these people have not had a lot to complain about. In the United Kingdom; we have healthcare and welfare and all sorts of programmes which, having had them for so long, we see as our right. But they're not human rights, they're privileges. They're things that have to be paid for. And we are a lot better off than a lot of countries in the world. Should we feel guilty about it? No. Should we defend the things we want to keep, that we believe in? Sure. But starting fires and urinating on a Churchill statue shows a complete lack of awareness of our history, of our world, and of peaceful protest. I have no sympathy right now. Maybe the guy who's urinating could sell his Nike trainers and buy some school textbooks or something.
It's entirely possible that our government are wrong, or making huge errors. But then, so are the young people out in the streets. And if we want our (somewhat) elected officials to do their jobs, we should really do our own.