« Conferences and narrow boats ... | Main | Bonekickers .... »

July 08, 2008

Crisis? What crisis?

The recent spate of knife murders in London and elsewhere in the country are a tragedy, but one, which, with a little forsight should have been seen coming. In my own teenage years I always carried a knife, not for self defence or even because I wanted to look macho, but because it had many uses. With my sheath knife I could cut wood to make a fire over which to cook the meat and vegetables I had cut up using, you guessed, the same sheath knife. Every Boy Scout carried one, and to the best of my knowledge never dreamed of sticking it between someone elses ribs or into someone's arm, leg, neck or stomach. One didn't, the knife was a tool, not a toy; we were taught to use it properly and safely and even if we weren't carrying a sheath knife, we had a pocket knife with us for the same essential reason.

There was one other thing we were taught, sometimes with a well deserved clip on the rear end, which modern youngsters are not. We were taught to respect our elders, our fellow teenagers and to exercise self control or self discipline.

Today if I were to appear at a Scout Camp with the knife I still have packed away in the loft on my belt I would probably be arrested and charged with threatening the public safety or some equally nebulous formula. The proponents of "lets disarm everyone" fail to realise that it is not the weapon which is at fault. True, if no one had a weapon you could argue that no one would get hurt, but that simply isn't borne out by history or facts either. Usually it is the boy who isn't armed who is attacked. Reason? He's a soft target, unlikely to have the means or the skills to defend himself - so let's go for him. We banned guns after Dunblane, but what no one seems to be willing to admit is that there were several million guns in private ownership - yet one rogue owner is taken by press and politicians (And I am always suspicious of any politician who wants to disarm the public!) as proof that ALL gun owners are a threat to the public. One of the most ridiculous things I have seen recently is a statement by a police spokesman that a twelve year old displayed an "inordinate interest in guns". Of course the kid does, most boys are fascinated by things that make loud noises and look cool - and any news bulletin contains at least some shots of weapons in action in Afghanistan or Iraq at present. Video Games contain violent (and totally impractical weaponry) in abundance - but perhaps it is convenient to overlook that. Even more ridiculous is the woman who called out the Anti-terror SWAT team because she saw a kid in the street playing with a toy pistol. And I'm sorry, but any 'trained' police officer who can't tell the difference between a real weapon and toy needs to be retrained.

Yet, to return to my opening on knives and the so-called "knife crime" currently in the headlines we really do have to ask ourselves an important question. If the problem is the misuse of knives, why is it now becoming so accute when a generation ago it wasn't a problem? There are two possible answers, one is that the media now hype it a great deal more than they did, and the other is that our youth have no respect for each other or for law and order. I think that it is probably a mixture of both, with a great deal of emphasis on the latter though because we are now seeing the children of the 60's "Free Love" "Anti-discipline" generation - the children brought up on Doctor Spock's discredited theories which they now loudly and incessantly proclaim to be the only way to achieve peace and harmony.

Well, I know what my recipe for peace and harmony is, and I know what I al;so know that it cannot be achieved by derogating all responsibility to the Whitehall nannies, by banning normal usage of everyday items or by passing yet more laws restricting our rights. There has to be a sea change toward bringing up children to respect discipline, to know how to control their own emotions and to respect others they may encounter. We don't need more Whitehall and Westminster solutions, we need less restrictions on decent parents to do the job properly and less support for the criminally incompetent or criminally irresponsible which simply feeds their bad behaviour and perpetuates it into the next generation.

Crisis? Well we may have one, but, given that the media now hype bad news to the skies, how big a crisis? Given too that Whitehall has a magic way with bad statistics - keep changing the way they are presented or simply change what is measured or collected - and you simply cannot verify whether the situation is any better or any worse than it was. Personally I think there mnay well be a problem, not as big as the press appears to make it, but certainly a problem. But the problem is not the knives or the guns, but the people who carry them without a vestige of responsibility or any form of self discipline or, indeed, understanding of the consequences of not exercising it.

We have to re-introduce discipline into our world, or it will descend into a free for all in which only the lawless and armed will prevail. Tacitus wrote; Si vis Pacem; para Bellum.

If you seek peace; be prepared for war.

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 8, 2008 01:53 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: