The title of this post is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the past few weeks in the UK. I’ve heard it from people at work, people I chat to on my daily commute to work, and people at church. People are of course referring to the recent outbreaks of rioting and looting in the major cities.
I work in the city of Bristol myself which experienced some mild disruption, but nothing that affected me personally. It seemed clear though that your average person could not even remotely comprehend the mindset of someone who would want to go round stealing from and vandalizing businesses, and in some cases causing physical harm to others for no reason.
Many theories have been bandied around as to the causes of these local uprisings. Among them were boredom, poor social upbringing, lack of father figures, lack of moral guidance, lack of respect for authority, and protests against rising taxes and welfare cuts. I suspect that the true answer lies in a combination of all of the above and more.
I want to explore the proposition that a lack of moral guidance can eventually lead to anarchy. Where does moral guidance come from? There are two possible sources: external and internal.
External moral guidance comes from leaders, either political or religious. People take their morals from what the law of the land says is right and what their religious leader or religious book says is right. People who are aware of or take notice of these morals are likely therefore to stick to doing what is right so that they don’t face the consequences of wrongdoing, either in this life – or the next.
I also believe that people have an innate sense of right and wrong, an internal moral compass if you like. Some people say that if no-one believed in God there would be no such thing as right and wrong but I find that hard to believe as there are many, many agnostics and atheists who do good works. Internal morals seem to me to be a consequence of the society one lives in. For the good of society its better to help others, not cause others harm, and to reciprocate good deeds.
So the links between the above comments and the impulse to loot and riot seems to be that firstly, today’s leaders and politicians are not perceived as holding high moral standards. There has been a culture of lies, cover ups, spin, and getting away with what they can.
Secondly religion of any kind is no longer a high priority for the majority of the UK. Many people do not believe in any God, or accept any religious text as truth. Consequently this form of moral guidance is seen as little more than archaic rules which have a historical role in the original formation of the laws of the land.
This leaves the internal moral compass. It seems to me that society is dragging itself down, and the morality of certain sections of society has become focused on the individual and what those individuals can get for themselves. As this attitude of entitlement spreads from parent to child, and family to family, people forget that there was ever any other way of thinking. The moral compass falls lower and the individuals concerned do not have any concept of how to right it, or even any concept that there is anything wrong with it.
What can I say? I would call on politicians to clean up their act, to act for the good of the people and not the good of themselves and their party. I would encourage politicians to endorse respect for religion, particularly Christianity in the UK, and to hold its beliefs as admirable. I would advise them to get back to Biblical morality even if the faith element is not present, and to use these values to correct the internal moral compass of Great Britain.
Will the politicians learn from the events of the last few weeks? We shall see, but I suspect not. And yet only good can come of having respect for each other and each others property while we await the coming of our true moral leader, the Lord Jesus Christ.