I spent 14 years living in London. I lived in Tottenham—North London—where this past weekend’s rioting started, and Hackney, where it continues. I didn’t live in Peckham, Lewisham, Croydon or Brixton—South London—where more rioting has since broken out.
The violence has not only been rife throughout London—on a 30 mile radius—but also throughout England. The cities and counties of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and Nottinghamshire have all seen hundreds of people rampaging through streets destroying property and looting.
There are reports of scores of injured police; many shops have been looted; bins, cars, buses, shops and residences have been set alight.
London is burning.
My job was to take a group of up to 15 young people (aged 16 – 25) and help them to turn their lives around. These were young people who had fallen through society’s ‘net’. I worked with drug addicts, prison leavers and pregnant teenage girls. I was alone with this group of 15. There was no funding for the assistant that I was supposed to have.When I moved out of London seven years ago, I worked for one year as a youth worker in Watford (a large town in the suburbs of London), and what I learnt in that year astounded me… I could tell you some horror stories. But not now.
Now, all I want to say is this: look at what’s happening. The thin veneer of our ‘civilized’ society is torn back, and all the world is able to see what lurks beneath. Anarchy.
Why? Today’s youth have been betrayed.
The work I did that year was ridiculously under-funded. I once told my manager that I was reluctant to take a certain boy on a week-long field trip because I feared for the safety of the girls in the group (this boy had recently come out of prison: convicted of stabbing a man in the chest). My manager told me I had to take him. The reason: every ‘YP’ (young person) that I took meant extra funding for the course. We couldn’t survive without it.
My fears were later justified when I was forced to send him home early—he pulled a knife on me.
A few years previous to that, I had voted (along with most of the country) Tony Blair into power as Prime Minister. Why had I voted for him? These three words of his:
“Education, education, education”.
A few years later lack of funding in the education system almost cost me my life: the country had enough money to carry out an illegal, unnecessary and unwanted war in Iraq, but apparently not enough to take care of its own young.
On the news today I’ve seen various politicians talking about ‘criminality’ and ‘gratuitous violence‘. One police chief, when asked what was the cause of the rioting, said that it was just ‘kids looking for some excitement in the summer holidays’.
What hope is there for a better future when the people whose responsibility it is (and who have the power) for making these things better have absolutely no clue as to what is causing the problem in the first place? Or don’t care…
I believe that Western capitalist democracies are a disaster. I believe that what we’ve seen over this last weekend in England, and especially London, is the tip of the iceberg. I urge you to pay attention (most of your attention, not just some of it) to your children, and to the children in your communities. They are the future, plain and simple.
At the moment, the future is not bright.
Please leave a comment. What do you think is the cause of the explosion of violence we’ve witnessed in the UK this last weekend?
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Some people talk of the world ending in 2012 – personally I think that’s nonsense. The world won’t end; but our world just might, unless we evolve human consciousness from the fear mentality that currently pervades, to a new paradigm of love.
I have always had this feeling, this vision (and it has not faded) since I was a child. Indeed, as I have grown older, it has been re-affirmed.
Swami Vishnu Devananda founded the Sivananda Yoga teacher-training course because he had a vision during meditation of the world burning; human beings running around in chaos and fear and desperation. He created that yoga teacher-training course not so much to train yoga teachers as to train world leaders. He recognized that moral, ethical, and spiritual leadership throughout society would prompt change at a ‘grassroots’ level: the change that is necessary to avoid the kind of disaster we may be facing now.
When I learnt of this – as I took the teacher-training myself – I was deeply moved. I silently vowed to do all I could to become the kind of leader that Swami Vishnu envisioned. I did this not only out of love for him (although I never met him – he died in 1993, the year I discovered yoga – I have always felt a tremendous loyalty and love towards him). I did it also because I resonated with his vision, and because I love this Earth, this home that we all share; upon which we float together through space, and towards our shared destiny.
So my work for many years now has been about making a difference. My work as a therapist, healer, and teacher; running yoga retreats and healing holidays; and indeed everything I write; all comes from a heartfelt urge to create a more positive human society.
Today, I begin to do something more.
Today I tell you about a spiritual teacher called Tony Samara…
I call myself a spiritual teacher from time to time – I don’t mean, and have never meant to imply, that I am a guru, or that I am enlightened. Like many, I have tasted the bliss of self-realization but have not been able to sustain it.
Tony Samara is different. I have never met anyone like him, and believe me: I have searched; and I am not easily led.
He is endlessly patient, yet utterly intent.
He is simultaneously deeply compassionate and ruthlessly detached.
He is powerful – miracles seem to happen around him all the time – but his power is matched by a deep humility and gentleness.
I invite you to watch the following video. Made by those students closest to Tony, it is stunningly beautiful. However, the most beautiful aspect of it, for me, is simply Tony’s voice. I invite you to listen to his voice, feel his energy, and consider his words.
If you feel drawn to his teachings, know that there is no dogma or doctrine. He teaches a path of simplicity, and is himself a family man – he has four children.
You can find out more about him on this website, and tune in, for free, to his live Satsang at 17.00 UCT every wednesday. You may also view many of his previous Satsangs, and other videos, at the video archive accessed from the same page.
I will write more articles promoting Tony’s work: how I met him (and the amazing impact that simple moment had on me!); how other people met him; some of my personal experiences whilst being guided by him in meditation; how he has visited me (and others) in dreams.