Thankfully Wiltshire was spared the rioting that affected several cities in the UK in August. But the West Country didn’t escape the disturbances altogether. There were reports of disorder in Bristol and Gloucester, although when interviewed on Newsnight, the MP for Gloucester, Richard Graham insisted that what happened in his city was “not a riot, but a disappointing night.”
No doubt politicians and think tank gurus will look long and hard at some of the causes of the recent outbreak of rioting that brought death and destruction to the streets of our country. Factors such as family breakdown and unemployment need to be taken into consideration. But when all’s said and done we still can’t get away from the fact that human beings are responsible for their actions, before the law, and to God. Not all rioters were hoodie wearing members of the “underclass”. Some came from nice middle class homes, but they were carried along by a wave of criminality to loot and plunder at will.
Now that the long arm of the law has caught up with them and justice has been summarily administered, many will be rueing the night they indulged in unruly behaviour from the inside of a prison cell. Hundreds of young lives have been blighted by jail terms and criminal records. All for a moment of August madness.
Buildings burnt, goods stolen, businesses ruined, lives lost. Whatever possesses people to act in such a way? The Bible’s answer is that human beings are sinners, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” "(Romans 3:23). We have failed to live according to our Maker’s instructions. On a large scale, that is the explanation for wars and riots. On a smaller scale it explains why our personal relationships are often fraught with tensions and difficulties.
The good news is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He died for the sins that separate us from God and incur his judgement. He rose again to give new life and hope to all who believe in him. Jesus is the remedy that Broken Britain needs.
*Written for September's edition of News & Views, West Lavington Parish Magazine.