I have just been reading the original post and while the thought of it did not quite to occur to me either (on the cusp but not quite there!), I think the succinct way you have summed it up is perfect.
So. Do you think you’re special?
I read with great interest an article that was published in Nature Neuroscience (via io9) that the human mind is programmed, in a nutshell to be optimistic. People like the dying earth scenario in films and books because often, they think that they will be that last person left – they are the Viggo Mortensen (The Road) or Sigourney Weaver (Alien), though they are far more likely to be the red shirted oik in the first 30 seconds who gets hit by a car, cannibalised or atomised by the latest shiny thing out of the Weta Works.
But it isn’t just optimism which has incited this griping. The type of exceptionalism I mean is that which I am not sure if it is a symptom of the present society we live in, or a malign force threatening to take it the wrong way.
It’s whether or not you think you, yourself, in the present, are exceptional. You deserve to jump the queue in the process or looked on favourably because you are so sure that only the person with the biggest hat in the organisation is worth listening to what you have to say.
Oddly enough, the people I find who behave with such exceptionalism are often those who believe most in the great, uniting mass of humanity, come different creed or culture. Not too different mind you, and God forbid you should have something that disagree with oik-in-question’s sense of morality – if they have developed ethically enough to have one. That last comment is not quite meant as a gripe, it is simply a statement of my experience. Often, the people who need to see the biggest hat in the company…. are those that need their hands to be held when they are embarking on something they’re unsure of.
Thus the problem: the world and time are awesome, dynamic forces constantly moving and ensuring that few things are actually certain. I look into the prospective futures I can connive with my own mind, and those my friends connive, and we too get that uncertain shiver down our spines as we realise that that’s it. University or college is actually the last guided goal we ever really have and once its gone, we’re out on our own.
Depending on what mood you’re in at the time this can give you a divine thrill, now master of your own destiny, or that gulping panic that holy shit, if we fall off this precipice of life we can fall very far and very fast. But that is the point: what’s the point of sailing the tumult of the world on your own little boat if it’s always tethered at the harbour, ready to come back in when the fishing goes bad?
But this isn’t something to be afraid of. And the world isn’t either. You are a being of life and the same competencies of everyone else, and since Homo Sapiens has come all this way beating out Mammoths, 5.9 kiloyear events, a tonne of disease epidemics and daily showering being a relatively new convention, remember: you don’t need someone to hold your hand. Sometimes you just need to politely tell yourself that fuck whatever else may happen, there’ll be no Sabre tooth tiger ripping your arm off if you don’t see the guy with the biggest hat – so maybe his more approachable underlings are worth seeing too.
So, we’ve all had time to think and consider the riotous night before. Literally.
Unfortunately for those protesting peacefully, history will record this as a very large riot with many examples of hurt and splendid idiocy. Whether it was the police letting the royals through the riot or some complete f*ckwit who, on revelation of his identity, we realise will never have to worry about money in his life, Friday December 10 2010 has certainly been a sobering day.
Unless you are presently occupying the library, you guys still have some waking up to do. Mainly, if you are going to reoccupy the library with the intent of fixing the mess that the student body thinks you created, it would be wise to well inform them that you are doing it.
Naturally, the reactions to both events have been all over the shop of negativity. I personally, as WanderingSight, am absolutely appalled by the rioting and offended by the defacing of sacred monuments to the millions dead who died for the rights we enjoy. However, sometimes I think showing how much people get ‘riled’ as it were is no sterner way to demonstrate to the wigs at the top the point that ultimately, they are fucking with people’s entire lives. Similarly, while I am disappointed and ashamed of the rioters, I bear in mind that most of the people there weren’t rioters. They were just following a crowd mentality. Now, if only the NUS weren’t a bunch of weak Kerenskys we might have a plan.
As the police and the rioters, well there’s another thorny issue. My own past dealings with the Metropolitan police have led me to the conclusion that they are rampantly incompetent and crass, never mind sociopathic on occasion (Jean Charles de Menezes, anyone?). However, not to make a hypocrite of myself, I try and think that they are just people too. Maybe our protest policing style should change from this:
To something less hand to hand. But that leads us into CS Gas and watercannons. Freezing watercannons are a terrible idea. But truncheons lead to brain haemorhages, as we are sadly waiting to find out if there has been long term mental damage in this tactic. With each demonstration police tactics change (or are meant to) and after these riots, perhaps they will lay off (Kettling invites trouble effect now well observed) or, perhaps, we will see more of the kind of policing that surrounds the increasing sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Let’s not forget now, England doesn’t have an intermediary force between the police and the army. Yes, I will mention it as an aside – if the riots become genuine, chronic unrest, that idea must vaguely float at the back of your mind.
Realistically however, I don’t think it will get that far.
But as to what i think will happen?
I just don’t know.