Monday, November 07, 2005

Disgruntlement
Don't know quite what to say about all these riots and car burnings that are reported to be happening all over France. I haven't seen anything myself, but then I live in the town centre. The estates of tower blocks where these things are happening are located as far away as possible from the town centre.

I've thought for a long time that the location of these places is pretty symbolic. It's very much as if these blocks were constructed where your average 'native' Frenchman could pretend they didn't exist. Well away from all cultural amenities, well away from everything except the noisy motorways and the stinking factories.

Racism exists in my own country as well as here, it is true. But I think it's instructive to reflect about the ethnic mix of the company where I work at the office both here in France, and in the UK. Definately, compared to here, there is a much better mix of ethnic backgrounds in the UK side of the company. And the mix is spread all throughout the levels of the hierarchy. I would personally conclude that the minorities have more restricted opportunities here.

But racism is a two way street. It's difficult not to carry hate in your eyes when you experience prejudice on a daily basis. But if you carry it and look at people with your hatred, you are only perpetuating a viscious circle, provoking the reactions you don't want. Hatred is not an effective way to challenge and change prejudice. You just end up looking like an angry malcontent. The sort of guy that politicians like Sarkozy can stick a label on.

And then there is the clash of religious versus secular societies, and all the identity issues that go with it. I'm not gonna take either side. We could do with a bit more moral guidance and less materialism at times, in the same way as many other countries could with a bit less pointlessly restrictive judgementalism. No society or culture is perfect.

Certainly blowing each other to bits is not the answer, whether that is with laser-guided missiles or with petrol bombs.

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