The Archbishop wrote something on the "unrest" today. Here it is, from the Archbishop of Canterbury's web page.
Archbishop's reflection on unrest
Thursday 11th August 2011
Reflecting on recent events before attending the recalled sitting of the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said:
The tragedy of the events of recent days is that those who will pay the heaviest price are those who most need stability and encouragement in local communities – people who run small local businesses, people who need efficient emergency services, people, old or young, with limited mobility. In no imaginable sense does the violence we have seen help anyone; those who have been involved have achieved nothing except to intensify the cycle of deprivation and vulnerability.
That being said, we now have a major question to address, which is how to combat the deep alienation we have seen, the alienation and cynicism that leads to reckless destruction. The Government has insisted on the priority of creating stronger, better‑resourced local communities. This priority is now a matter of extreme urgency. We need to see initiatives that will address anxieties and provide some hope of long‑term stability in community services, especially for the young. Meanwhile the Church will maintain its commitment to all communities at risk, and is ready to offer its help and solidarity in every possible way.
And later today, the ABC spoke before the House of Lords. The transcript is HERE. It is worth the read, although I don't know what to make of his short term assessment,
"In the events we have seen in recent days, there is nothing to romanticise and there is nothing to condone in the behaviour that has spread across our streets. This is indeed criminality – criminality pure and simple, perhaps, but as the Prime Minister reminded us, criminality always has a context, and we have before us the task of understanding that context more fully," over against his more long range concerns,
"I would hope that in our response to these events we shall hold in mind what we owe to the next generation of our citizens - and I underline that phrase "the next generation of our citizens". What we have seen is a breakdown, not of society as such, but a breakdown of the sense of civic identity, shared identity, shared responsibility. The Government has very rightly made a priority of building community cohesion in what it has spoken of in recent months. Talk of the "Big Society", of which we have heard a great deal, has focused precisely on the rebirth, the renaissance, of that civic identity. Now we need to see what that is going to look like. Now we need - all of us, without any point-scoring from a partisan approach - we need all of us to reflect on what that building will require in terms of investment in the next generation – in formal education, but also in the provision of youth services, imaginatively and consistently, across the country."
What seems lacking here is any suggestion that there be an effort to listen to the perpetrators of criminality, not for their excuses or their lack of them, but for other markers of a sadder desperation and angers covered over. Suppose, just suppose, that it is more complex than that, that there is a context in which these actions took place that has a certain visceral logic, a biological logic, for which civility is a very thin overlay. Of course we ought to train our children for civility and for the virtues of civil life. But we need too to remember that deep inside we are strange beasts whose logic is more difficult to comprehend.
As a avid listener to Pink Floyd's the Wall, I am a bit disturbed by the trumpeting of order and civil virtue as one. Careful goes the ship of state, else it becomes ironclad and incapable of quick movement and swift recovery.
Then again, I have no right to say much. The USofA is a mess these days and the swing to imposed order is just around the corner. And we have a remarkable and long history of bashing heads and cutting people out of the herd on this or that deeply held prejudice. Between the people who are out to make this a Christian nation and those who just want to smash heads, particularly heads in which thinking takes place, we are on our own ride into the sunset.