Money can’t buy me love

Published: September 1, 2011 - 15:20 Updated: September 1, 2011 - 15:28

Recent events like the tragic gunning down of innocent people in Osloand the riots in London must surely force Europe to self-reflect. This is perhaps long over due. 

After having dictated to the world for centuries on how to live and what to think, Europe stands before a mirror today to look itself in the eye. The problem is that a lot of people are very angry in Europe. In London, it is the anger of those fighting poverty. What the world witnessed in Norway was the anger of one trying to protect affluence. In both instances, the crisis is
over currency. 

The bigger crisis is of values, or rather, a decline of values. The idea of valuing currency above everything else in life is a bad one. To allow the market to rule life is not such a good idea either. 

Socialist values that once made Europe a shining example in the world are fading away. Once upon a time the young looked forward to being led by Europe’s socialists and social democrats on a path that at least promised utopia. Today, young people have nothing to dream about. The future is a blank. 

The thugs who set fire to London are among the 1.2 million people known as NEET: ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’. Since everything costs money, which the NEET do not have, they have taught themselves to grab what they would like to have. 

A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveals that onlyPortugalbeatsBritainwhen it comes to a horrendous economic divide among its people. The problem is greed, responsible for having created over decades a gaping chasm between the rich and poor. According to BBC, Britain is haunted by homeless single parents and those without any means to earn a living. It is a miserable life in Britain for the poor who outnumber those who are not poor. 

A UNICEF study ranks Britain as the most child-unfriendly country out of 21 major industrialised nations. There are 3.4 million children living below the poverty line in Britain, a seriously distressing number. In ugly neighbourhoods, violence is part of life. Some 60 per cent of children between the ages of 10 and 15 are victims of crime at least once in their life. 

Headline news report anarchists torching cars in Berlin. The anger of people that has already spilled on to the streets is spreading across the continent. 

The idea of the Europe an Union is a beautiful one. But, perhaps, the union takes its original spirit of unity based on commerce far too literally. As if other aspects of life matter less. Worldly success of individuals is celebrated, but there is no emotional safety net for those left behind in the rat race to make money. 

Take the austerity measures introduced by governments inGreece,SpainandItaly, which are the worst hit economies today. All cut-backs to salvage the economy have hurt the majority who are already not well off. Education grants for those from low income families are taken away. Youth centres and community centres for the unemployed and the pregnant are locked up. Libraries are shut down, while casinos get a facelift. That is why the people are at war with their respective governments. 

Even those who are monetarily well-endowed do not seem pleased with life. In the name of privacy, there are perhaps far too many lone wolves thinking their own thoughts and living alone. 

Take the example of the seemingly well-brought-up Anders Behring Breivik: the gunman ofNorway. The son of a Norwegian diplomat, he is remembered as a good looking, well-groomed and polite young man even as his little mind planned and plotted the mass murder of his own countrymen for over a decade. Talking to the best friend of Breivik’s mother, journalists wanted to know if she ever thought that Breivik was a terrorist. 

“I don’t know. He was too quiet. And he was very much alone. Always,” the elderly lady recalls. Breivik had lunch with his mother on Sundays, but he lived alone. He is said to have brainwashed himself into thinking the way he did.

However, in societies where the lamp of socialist values still flickers and where family ties and community life are still valued, there is little unrest on the streets. As in Austria. So far.

This story is from print issue of HardNews