The aftermath of some of the ugliest, disturbing scenes of violence and destruction at Parliament Square, by our academic elite, sees a shameful silence fall on our capital city.
It is hard to understand, appreciate, empathise or sympathise with the perpetrators of such wanton acts of violence and destruction, at some of our most revered and hallowed sites. There is a disquiet that comes from seeing that really, all that is important to many of the students protesting or attending what was anticipated to be, a peaceful protest, is a self-serving need for temporary power, for intimidation and for devastation.
We can attribute some of the more wanton, crazied acts of destruction to a mob hysteria, to a rule of the masses, to the unexpected consequences of fevered emotion that becomes as addictive as uncontrolled abusive and aggressive behaviour. Make no mistake, the students behaving in this way at one protest rally, will seek ever more highs to sate the appetite for violence, that seeps like a drug through the system.
In my work with young people who may have experienced long periods of academic difficulty, of failure, of family breakdown, of abuse, of social deprivation absolutely stripped bare of any attempt at pleasantries, almost always it is possible to find a reason to empthasise, to understand, to appreciate the difficulties endured, the years of torment. It is possible to have a desire always that life should be better; to see that there is much that is owed to this young person, much that we hope our society may wish to put right. There is a reason to push all the boats out, to drive and demand and cajole and plead for better life chances for young people whose lives have been blighted by difficulty and abject failure, as a response to a lack in our educational and social structures and systems.
I find it hard to have a place in my heart for those who have, with such exhileration, caused so much damage to our prized possession, our capital city, in the name of advancing the cause for education.
I wonder if I have become more callous, in my middle years, less able to understand, or tolerate views that are so different to my own? I wonder if I have some prejudice, that lies quite unaware, that blinds me to the many merits of those who have stood up to parliament, who have brought our city to its knees?
I do not think so, but I have questionned myself if that is the case.
I state that it is almost always possible to see some reason to support those vulnerable people in our society that have had few life chances, whose lives have been blighted by our collective inadequacies. I say that, knowing that many of the young people I have seen and supported over the years, despite this, will end their days in young offender institutions, in adult prisons, unemployed, in long-term adult social residential care, or may struggle on, an increasing burden to parents who have few options but to endure.
The students we saw so freely attacking, ransacking our city, are our academic elite. These students are our successes. These students are our future.
To my mind, these students are owed very little. They have yet to pay their dues to society for an education that has afforded them the opportunity to live and study anywhere in the UK, anywhere, withinn reason, within the world. Their further education is a privilege. It remains a privilege in the context of our European partners, many of whom would strive to have a university system that anywhere near parallels our own.
It is a sad time for our island nation when the shameful behaviour of our academic elite is paraded before the eyes of the watching world. I truly hope that, for some of those atending or supporting, there may be a moment of quiet reflection today that restores some sense of equilibrium, of perspective, of peace. It is much needed. It is long-overdue.