What’s Going On?

news.jpg30 years ago, Marvin Gaye wrote ‘What’s Going On?’….30 years later his words couldn’t be more relevant than they are today. He sang:

“Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today”

Last week a 17 year old girl was killed in Croydon, South London. Stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in a surburban street. I often park on that road when I’m going to the cinema.

Over the weekend, 5 murders of young people took place in London. Young people whose lives were cut short while they were in their prime.

This year, there has been huge media coverage of other murders of young people – by young people – in and around London. Goodness knows what’s happening in other inner cities.

WHAT IS GOING ON?! I know I’m not the only one asking this question and I’m certainly not full of answers. I know that there are some young people who are so far down the line, so steeped in a life of crime and violence, that they are already lost. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Maybe these people need not to be the focus for making changes, although I do believe redemption is possible for all at any stage.

While time is spent trying to get people out of gangs, how many more are on their way in? Maybe the politicians, educators, social workers and other people who work closely with young people need to focus on those who are growing up now. Those who are the ripe ages for getting into gangs… Or maybe those even younger. Instead of focussing on what is going on within gangs, maybe the focus needs to be on what it is that creates the conditions that encourage people to want to get into gangs. Maybe we need to really get to grips with understanding what a gang or that kind of lifestyle is providing for the young person that is not being provided elsewhere – and then bleeding well get around to providing it ASAP.

The problem is complex. No criminologist has yet been able to give one reason for why or how people get into crime and violence. It involves family, education, work, money, peer groups and a number of other factors. However, there is one thing that I think is majorly missing from the discussion. It’s emotional intelligence. It’s about how people deal with themselves and their feelings.

Schools don’t teach it. Many families don’t teach it well enough. Who is teaching it? Who is teaching kids that when someone pisses you off, the answer is not to reach for a gun or a knife?

I would really like to see the education system changed to reflect what we now know: that what’s going on inside a person, our attitudes and beliefs are crucial in our experiences of life. We know that emotional intelligence is a key part of a succesful life. Right now, education is not providing people with the necessary skills that will help them to build characteristics and values and become better people. I couldn’t care less about Physics when kids of 13, 14 and 15 are going around killing each other because someone offended them and they are trying to show how tough they are.

It’s not just about education though. It is time for our society to become more responsible. I’ve already blogged about the banning of Manhunt 2. We need more of this. There needs to be a global shift of consciousness towards promotion of what’s good, what’s wholesome, what is uplifting and beneficial for people – especially young, vulnerable, impressionable people. With so much emphasis on violence, crime, war, hatred and fear in every aspect of our lives – in papers, TV, films, music, computer games, politics (!) etc – is it any wonder that this kind of thing is going on.

Usually I will say ‘it’s all about the family – it’s down to the family’ and yes it is, but not everyone has a good family. Not everyone comes from a family that knows how to steer their child on the right path. Therefore it is up to society to be a family. The education system has to be a family. Society at large has to be a family. Isn’t there a famous African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child”? All should be working for the betterment of everyone else. 

Maybe if that ever happens we’ll no longer need to ask what’s going on.


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