Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Angry Young Men 2

Germane Lindsay bombed my train, he was 19, I was 22. What’s the difference? We are both male, so what made him do what he did? I have to find a conclusion to this which I can find peace with. I have to know why?.

My point is that people around me, and myself, have little or no understanding of the Middle East, the issues there or indeed most world affairs, they don‘t even watch the news as the Simpsons/Hollyoaks is on at the same time. Not a joke, it’s true. Our (my generations) level of historical awareness is crap, and is in very simple terms broken down to simply good vs. bad, with single “evil” figures at fault for the worlds problems. For example we are taught that Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein are bad/evil while all Western leaders are the polar opposite. The latest instalment on the side of evil is Bin Laden. As we have no education of the middle east why should we challenge this? We have no reason to think it is any more complex than this. This is how we are taught, that the funny looking odd foreign individuals are to blame for everything. This is a simple, easy, selective, pro-western and lazy way to teach us. Stating the obvious I know. But how are we supposed to have an informed and healthy opinion if we are not informed?

I’m highly embarrassed by my lack of knowledge of unrest in the Middle East. The other day I happened to look up a map, out of interest I looked for Palestine. I knew where it should be, but there was no title stating “Palestine”. I could see a dotted line, but no Palestine. Thinking I was stupid, or there was a misprint, I couldn’t understand. I did a google search, I read and read about why there was no official Palestinian state, but an occupied territory which while under their own rule is technically at present part of Israel. At least this is how I understand it, if I’m wrong please tell me where I‘m failing. I am now self teaching myself the past sixty years of history, something my schooling chose not to teach me, yet is influencing me and my world massively, right now. How can they (the government) expect us to be politically aware and involved when they don’t teach us how they justify what they do. Whether their actions are right or wrong, we know nothing of the background and history of the region so how can we effectively support/dispute what they do. We have been annexed. Please tell us why you (the government) act the way you do, stop fobbing us off please! We want to understand.

My friends/peers are by no means poorly educated, I have a good degree, A-levels, GCSE’s etc. I am by my countries standards of a reasonably high level of education, yet my understanding of what is actually going on in the world, not that far away is shockingly poor and frighteningly simplified. We are in a world we don’t really understand and we are confused, its very tempting to adopt the model of good vs. evil, but it’s just not that simple. Most people I know adopt this model, including my Dad, yet I consider him to be a fairly wise man. When you try to address these problems by debating between yourselves, the ones of you who are politically aware, you are missing the real problem. The majority of people out there don’t understand what you’re talking about.

I do also believe there is a strong regional divide in the UK. Please don’t dismiss me as a whinging northerner/scouser, I’m trying to tell you how I and a lot of people around me actually feel. Whether we are right or wrong it is how we feel. It seems the only time northern cities/towns make it into the national press it is because of bad news. High unemployment, poor education, high crime rates, poor hospital standards, high teenage pregnancy rates, high STD rates and high drug abuse levels are all terms that are pasted over us. Think of somewhere in the north and consider what your impression actually is of that place. It is often mostly stereotyped and utterly negative, usually that we are all ASBO teenagers, pram pushing 15 year olds or benefit frauds, I could go on. I actually live here, it’s not that bad, but I know most of the country thinks iy’s a shit-hole and it gets demoralising after a while. The word I’m looking for is alienated.

Most of my male friends have been attacked or robbed in some way. One of them has had his flat broken into twice in a year, been head butted and punched in the street by drunken chavs. One of them has been robbed on a bus at knife point, another has been jumped and robbed by a gang. Another has witnessed his housemate dowsed in petrol in the street and threatened to be set alight, while another was recently beaten up in the toilet of a bar. Of the other people I know of, one has been slashed in an unprovoked racial attack, one lost his brother in a hit and run. This goes on and on. Almost everyone I know has been a victim of violent crime. We are just ordinary young blokes, certainly not violent and we definitely don’t provoke this behaviour. We are desensitised to violence, it’s just there. And we feel let down, the police often are not able to do anything and the government dismisses how we actually feel. But then the government dismisses how all of us feel, like when we protested against the war in Iraq. So we are surrounded by unprovoked and unjustified acts of violence which go unpunished and our government sets the same example to us. How are we supposed to communicate? Why shouldn’t we follow the governments example of communicating by violence? Course we shouldn’t, I know that, but there are some who don’t!

Even those of us who do vote, look to the government and see one which ignores its people. The massive public protest against the war in Iraq was simply dismissed, swept away. Aren’t they supposed to listen to us? At least a bit? They went against those of you that expressed your right to free speech and spoke out against it, in huge numbers, so how are we supposed to get them to listen to us?. They also lied in their argument for the war, basing it on false and incorrect intelligence, so they are exercising violence which is unjustified, illegitimate and wrong. If our government communicates with the Middle East via threats and unjustified violence, then isn’t it understandable that they communicate back in the same language?

I would be much more angry if people I considered my own were being attacked by the worlds largest super power. I my self suffered for my governments actions on July 7th. I think I have a right to be angry, everything points to an illegitimate war. Isn’t this what the UN is for? To avoid small groups of allied states implying their policies on defenceless peoples! Thankfully I’m diverting my anger into something constructive and positive and trying to learn about why people are driven to do these things. Not everyone has the ability to vent this anger so constructively. Anger is relative, I am angry, but there are angrier and then there are the angriest. From what I understand it is the angriest, the most disillusioned, the most annexed from society who are targeted. Targeted not by some shadowy figure but by themselves, and others like them. Only then are you starting to get close to why they commit these crimes.

It’s not the criminals with low levels of education you should worry about, it’s the smarter ones who are being desensitised, rejected and annexed. It is the people who you don’t notice who are feeling most desperate. The more desperate, the more vulnerable. The criminals have a way to vent their anger… crime… and they are receiving help/rehab for that. It is those who can’t vent their anger, who bottle it up, and are looking for a release or solution who are the threat. Shehzad Tanweer was the same age as me, and a graduate from Leeds Met uni' in sports science, while Siddique Kahn was a teaching assistant and highly respected. These people are not losers, they're very much like me, just trying to find their way in life.

So I am angry at a world I do not understand and my impression of the world is massively flawed, manipulated and simplified, my region of the country is continuously bad mouthed. I am desensitised to violence. Violence is everywhere. I am someone you would consider has good prospects and a good education, yet I am an angry young man and I feel helpless and ignored. When you consider there are people out there more confused by this world, more angry at Western governments for acting the way they do towards their people, and surrounded by people who feel the same extreme emotions we are getting closer to the truth. The real cause of the July 7th bombings is right under the governments noses, up the M1, not as we are told, sitting in a cave in a turban many miles away. Add to this desperation the belief that they will become martyrs for committing these crimes and it becomes even clearer how they justify these awful acts to themselves.


Blogger Holly Finch said...

great post steve!....proud of you.

think of the good that has come from are trying to understand the world. i'm doing the same, so is everyone involved. we will become stronger ....and more educated!...people from this. keep up the good work & i hope it helped to get that off your chest.

you are doing great...and you are's a good lesson to learn in life, sadly we had to learn it the hard way, but it can only stand us in good stead for the future.

we will never truly understand, but at least we are trying, someone has to.

we're meeting up on thursday, we'll have a drink for you!

2:08 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

Hi steve - great post.... I feel the same way.

By the way, I've linked to your blog on my blog... hope that is ok.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Great post Steve, well done!

10:22 AM  
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