Turn on the TV or radio, or follow Twitter, facebook or any online media source today and you'll hear up-to-the-minute news about the rioting and looting that is continuing throughout the UK. It's quite scary and very disappointing that we're seeing it in the first place, and it is easy to see that tensions are running high both on the streets and in homes.
The media seems to be portraying the culprits as feral gangster children with some weird sense of entitlement, 'sticking it to the police' and taking whatever material goods they can, whilst those offering to clean up are middle class (mostly white) people - which threatens to drive a wedge between the good relations Britain has recently enjoyed between its component groups. With this has obviously come the calls for them to be sent home to their parents, sent home to their own country, chemically castrated or simply thrown into the sea.
Times are hard, and it's easy to point fingers of blame around to show who's at fault:
There are those who have consistently criticised the police for being to heavy handed, making them toothless.
There are those who have made the criminal justice system too much of a joke - as well as those calling for a reinstatement of bread and water for inmates.
There are those who blame the cuts to public services
There are those who blame the Labour government for spending too much and running up the debt in the first place.
There are those who blame Thatcher for 'destroying society', creating the materialistic vision in the first place.
There are those who say it's the fault of the 70s for the unions and punk.
There are those who say the 60s destroyed the rules and society that had been built up.
There are those who say that children brought up in the 50s never wanted their children to want for anything after their experiences, and made life far too easy for future generations.
It's very plausible that people these days don't understand what tough times are like, and kids that have been left by negligent young parents have had to create a life for themselves. Maybe TV has been far too disrespectful, putting bad ideas into their heads. Maybe they are bored, disenfranchised and angry that their future has been mortgaged so that the Baby Boomers can finish having their gold-plated pensions, rising house prices and the end of free education.
Maybe people see on the news that MPs can lie and steal and get away with it. Maybe they see austerity measures put in place everywhere but the boardroom. But whose fault is it? Are people who've known no better at fault? If all their life they're used to a certain standard of living and haven't had a real community to band together with, can we expect them to go through tough times? Can any of us really swallow the bitter pill that we've been given by those in power? 50 years of the good time can make anyone forget that austerity comes, even from the best intentions.
The big question now is what to do about them; I have seen calls for castration, shooting, locking up and throwing away the key. But can a civilised society do that without teetering over into totalitarianism, a return to a government that rules every part of our lives and zaps us if we put a foot wrong? Of course not. Difficult though it may be, society cannot just chop off part of itself, no matter how tempting - once those floodgates are opened, it's very difficult to shut them, or to draw lines of 'acceptability'.
Instead we need dialogue and education. The finger of blame can be pointed wherever it wants to be - it has no place for us. We have a situation here and now. It won't go away easily, and we've got to do the best we can with what we have. We can't shoot the problem away, no matter how scary, how offensive and how terrifying it is. We can't let emotions run too high and let single interest groups like the EDL and BNP speak for everyone. Rioters have to calm down, but we'll never do that by shouting even louder, or battering them into submission. What is needed is courage, dignity and understanding.
Easy to say, extremely difficult to do, as I am well aware.
For the moment, I hope that everyone is safe at home, and that the police do their best to keep violence at a minimum. They do an excellent job of walking a very thin line where they are damned if they overact and damned if they don't. They are the heroes, and each person offering to clean up after the disturbances helps to keep society alive. In the longer term however it's not about bringing in sentences that will make offenders tremble, it's not about cutting their benefits and human rights - it's about education and increasing people's responsibilities in line with those rights. It's about doing things differently. It's about working on the ground.
And finally, it's about remembering that each person in this country is British. It's our problem - it's not a 'foreigners' problem, or an 'us and them' problem. The rioters are British, the victims are British, whether it's first, second, third or nth generation. It's for all of us to sort out, all of us to think about, and all of us to band together to create a long-term solution for society.