Looters are both ‘us’ and ‘not us’

A good commentary on the recent spate of looting in UK cities from Mike Ovey. Here are a couple of extracts …

A Christian explanation could begin with one of the more sensible secular comments. These are “consumer society riots”, says Dr Paul Bagguley, who is a sociologist at Leeds. This is very perceptive. It points clearly to the consumerist, acquisitive nature of the looting, and it hints that these are the kind of riots that a consumer society (and let’s not forget, that’s all of us) has. It hints that this is the kind of riot you expect from members of a consumer society, not from those who refuse to be part of it. That does not allow me to say the looters are totally alien or other, or even “enemies of society” in a straightforward way. The looters are committed to the consumer society. They’re “us”, not simply “them” …

The second theme is envy. One response to what the Bible says about wealth is that the looters are not wealthy in the banker-bonus sense. I suspect another would be that the discussion about wealth just puts the looter on the same footing as the junk-bond banker. Not quite. Because another consumer society factor is at work here: the resentment and envy one feels towards those who have more toys. Put another way, the looting is not just defying the commandment “Do not steal”; just as importantly, it breaks the commandment “Do not covet”. Envy is a very cruel sin, because ultimately it is not content with raising itself up. Others must also be cast down. Is that why shops are burned and destroyed once they’ve been looted?

Read the full article here.

HT: Peter Sanlon