Responding to civil unrest

Events on the streets of England in August have shocked and disturbed us. We struggle to understand why this has happened and think of those who have lost their lives and their loved ones, and all who have seen their homes, business or other property damaged and their communities disrupted.

In coming to terms with these events, we hope that people will not react without deep reflection on the complex causes for these disturbances and that appropriate responses are made.

We have been living in turbulent times, through a banking crisis, continued fears over the economy and a breakdown in our trust in some of our politicians and media. The gap between rich and poor is widening and obsession with celebrity and a consumer culture unsettles people.

But we must not despair as there is much to celebrate in our community life, our diversity and the improvements made in wellbeing and our environment in many parts of the country. Many people have responded to the unrest by taking part in community clean-ups or in taking a stand in defence of values of community, justice and equality.

Society needs us to take personal responsibility for our actions, to recognise the impact that we have on others and to reassert the ethical values that distinguish right from wrong. We all have a duty to set an example and be appropriate role models in our society. We need to sustain investment in our communities, in education that raises the aspirations of all, in our neighbourhood policing, in opportunities for all to find work and fulfilment and in support for people facing the challenges of parenting and nurturing.

Think of those in elected office, in the voluntary sector, in public services, in community leadership roles and in our homes who are facing up to recent events.  Think of those in our criminal justice system. We hope that all consider fully the complex causes and the appropriate solutions to the challenges of today.