London Burned

Sounds like something out of an apocalyptic movie or anime. But it’s not, it’s reality.

I’ve never been to London, I don’t know anyone in London, but it still made me cry. Why? Because the rioters and the looters are people from my generation. Shocked, horrified, disgusted. I don’t feel any of those, I just feel incredibly sad. Some small part of my brain and my heart is telling me that this can happen in the place I call home as well. And that scares me, it brings tears to my eyes and it breaks my heart.

It may be Singapore’s national day today, I’m sure we’ve all been reminded about how far we have come, but I can still remember what happened during the elections. I can still hear the views that were expressed, the tension that was mounting the call for change. Youths were no longer called apathetic to the nation’s future, we were out in full forced, even those below voting age. We became a generation to be reckoned with, we questioned the governments policies on housing, immigration, education, transport, standard of living. We were worried about our future in the country we called home.

Singapore is different from London and yet we face many of the same problems. Mass immigration, downward spiralling economy, increased unemployment, lower wages, increased standard of living, just to name a few. I think many countries around the world are facing the same issues. I’ve seen comments from America expressing the same fears that the same thing might happen in their country. I guess it doesn’t come as much surprise, ever since the global financial crisis back in 2008, many people have lost a lot of money, some have even lost their jobs. There’s a lack of security and hope in the future. The future becomes even bleaker when we see how the rich just keep getting richer and nothing is being done to help the poor.

The young generation I think is really feeling the pinch. Sure a good number of us are getting better education, but as the population ages and the birth rate shrinks, we end up carrying a heavy burden. Higher standards of living (fueled in part by consumerism) and lower incomes are pushing us into a corner and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. The government is not to blame, at least I don’t think they can be blamed for everything. Instead it is society as a whole, our priorities have changed so much over the past few years. We’re all about the money, money money. It’s probably much more complex then that, but our focus on money is part of the problem.

Many people in London watched their city burn. I cannot even begin to imagine what that must be like. I’m sure many of the rioters and looters have some sort of reason for what they are doing. Perhaps they just wanted to be heard. At the same time, they are hurting the communities they are living in and there is no justification for that.

I sincerely hope that this will never happen in Singapore, that even though my generation may feel unheard and uncared for that we will never take it out on the country we love. There has to be another way. I also pray for London, that the rioting won’t go on for another night and that they will be able to have open discussions about what went wrong and what can be done.


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