You see, actually I wanted to write about something completely different today. Something that I have been thinking about lately – especially since the time we all were together in Norway for Hans and Signhild’s wedding. But I shall write about it next time. It simply isn’t the right answer for what Eyal wrote.
The past days of riots in London and also Liverpool started quite a few discussions amongst colleagues and friends about why this is happening in England. People that know me will know, that I might not always paint the brightest picture of the country. That is simply what happens when you live somewhere foreign for a longer period of time than just for holidays: You make your own picture of the place. You gain an insight into how the system works. And that ultimately leads to a decision about whether you like the place or not. So my opinion is that there is a lot of positive things, especially when it comes to people, in England. But the system in general failed long ago and it seems that nobody ever realized the days of the Empire are over.
But now: the generation of people that get left behind. This is our generation ladies and gentlemen. And everyone following up on us! When did that happen? And why?
It was very late a few years ago even, when I did my apprenticeship in Munich. I came home after one of those usual jobs. Very late, very tired but couldn’t sleep right away (as always after work late at night). I switched on the TV and there was a documentary on about unemployed young people. All the kids there quit school. No degree, not even finished school. My parents – as Eyal mentioned – would not have allowed for that to happen. (We think – coming back to that point). So there is this guy who get’s a chance to get work at a local place that does removals and furniture transportation. Obviously this is physically heavy work and you don’t have to be very bright to do it. Therefore the pay is not great – but it is payed work. This guy gets offered to work there and if he doesn’t do too bad, may become a full time position. But for now, he only has to come with them for half a day, 6 hours in total.
When he comes back, he says this work would be absolutely stupid, everyone could do it, it would be too hard and would not pay enough. And that he would not go there again. Asked what he would expect from a job, he says that is has to pay well. He wishes to have a house, garden, car, pool and so on. He would need about 3000 Euros a month to even feel he has a quality life.
So I sat there, after 16 hours of work, that payed me around 500 Euros a month and thought – what the fuck?
(I had to check again, but that really was the salary… 😉 )
Another story: In the gymnastics class I used to coach, there was a really talented you boy. When he came to our club, it became quite clear after no time, that we were not the right place for him. He was too talented not to make something out of that talent. We wanted to send him to the Olympics team that trains in Augsburg. And they wanted to work with him – but he didn’t want to. He wanted to stay. So he did. He was about 9 years or so (cannot remember) and his parents used to bring him to training as they lived several towns away. They cared for him, where always there, went with us to competitions and events and so further. I watched him grow up and he was a nice guy and remained the best one of the group.
During my time in Liverpool I was home for the summer and on a train from Augsburg back home. A guy that somehow looks familiar comes in the train and passes me. He was a punk, with all the usual accessories, like the spiky collar, run down clothes, coloured hair – the whole enchilada. Somewhere in my head, this little man was saying: You know this guy. But I could not work out where from.
A few days later I meet a friend from my time at the gymnastics club. She is a social worker now and told me the story that this guy I once knew has basically abandoned his family. No contact what so every. Lives on the street and became a punk. So what happened with this guy? He was the one on the train. At some point in our lives, our paths crossed and there was a chance to possibly change his life. To divert it into a different direction. His parents did everything they thought was good for him. They cared and they were strict. And now?
You see, the thing with the blaming is really difficult. I agree with Eyal, completely. The parents are to blame. But, it isn’t that easy. A lot of the kids of the lost generation have really young parents. Especially in England there is a trend to become a Mom at a very young age. To gain some perspective in life again. As everything else is useless. No job, no money, no perspective. Why not have a baby. Thinking does not always go much further as the next few weeks. And the fact that having a child means lifetime commitment is not the first thought that comes to mind.
So now, kids having kids is a problem. Kids with no perspective in life, no money, no job, no education having kids themselves… who do you blame now? When does the chain start? Where in the line is the one person that we could blame? The one that had a proper job, was clever, raised a family and made it through? There must be someone to blame..?
I know this is a very provocative line of argumentation. But it is what I spotted a while ago. And since then, I keep wondering all the time how to solve that riddle.
To be fair, you know how my thinking is. I might be too idealistic and have a very pragmatic view on things. But I do honestly ask the question: How do we want to go on as a society? We cut down jobs in constant strive for more money, the better paid job. We cut down the money for anything that is not related to economy and its constant growth. Did anybody ever think about, that constant growth is something unnatural? And that within our physical restrains infinite growth will never happen – no matter what we are looking at. But we built our society on the basis of constant economic growth… That is odd.
So, what do we do with all the kids that have no perspective in their lives? Do we go to them and tell them: Learn something, you will find a job and be happy? Well, there won’t be any job. We all know how hard it can be to find A job. But everyone strives for THE job, the one that makes you happy, pays well and has short working hours…
I honestly am furious about rioters like the one we have seen in England lately. There is no excuse for this.
But there is the unsolved question of whom to blame. I don’t know. But I feel it is time that people – young people in particular start to become more present in the minds of the people that do leave them behind. We have the right to speak freely what we think. We can demonstrate for the good cause. So, why not organise some useful things with a Blackberry and march for a good thing. To really change something…?
It is only us, human beings, that are able to change the way our world goes. At the moment, we are heading for the ice-berg, straight ahead and with full speed.
Maybe we should go and slow down a bit.