august 30, 2011

Euripides may not have been surprised

Once unleashed, almost any pretext can serve as cover (so the observation that the people we saw trying on and looting trainers and HD televisions may not have been personally inconvenienced by the curtailment of public library hours or the raising of student fees, while amusing, is slightly beside the point). We are not all responsible for the English riots (sorry, criminality) of August 2011. But their roots are in us all, as Euripides showed us long ago, deny it as we will. And in The Bacchae it was precisely when right-thinking and enlightened people tried to deny the destructive aspects of our nature that havoc and murder ensued. Broken society, perhaps, but underlying that, a broken nature we find so hard to come to terms with. And in reflecting on what it needs to keep our broken nature in check, we might also ask ourselves about a striking difference between riots in American cities and those in Britain.

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