Being depressed can lead to feeling angry that things are going so wrong for us and being angry about the seeming hopelessness of the situation. From experience I can say that although being depressed can lead to feelings of anger your negative feelings do not need to be so severe to feel angry. The same thoughts that lead to feelings of low self esteem do at times lead to a feeling of anger and resentment about the situation.
I would not be surprised if this type of anger contributed to the riots that occurred in August. The Guardian newspaper claims that “Researchers found that in almost all of the worst-affected areas, youth unemployment and child poverty were significantly higher than the national average…”
Government and society’s negative attitude towards unemployed.These negative feelings that accompany unemployment can be reinforced by the negative attitudes that the general public and government appear to express towards the unemployed.
There seems to be general opinion that people often choose to be unemployed. This idea can be reached when hearing often used comments such as “those lazy scroungers” and “…living off our hard earned taxes”. This idea that some people choose to receive benefits rather then work for a living seems to be reinforced by Alistair Darling’s initiative to pay incapacity benefits for a fixed period only. At the end of that period, if the claimant wishes to continue to receive the benefit, they would need to be reassessed and make a fresh claim to ensure that they are still entitled to the benefit and are not simply scamming the benefits system.
David Cameron says we will help the deserving but come down hard on the work-shy, again suggesting that there is a hardcore that chooses to not work.
I find it impossible to tell when government policies concerning us long-term unemployed are guided by the disapproval of the voters and when the attitude of the public is fuelled by the rhetoric of the government. It is my opinion that they feed each other. At times government policy and public opinion seem geared towards punishing those on benefits.
A drive to punish benefit claimantsThe government is considering cutting the benefits of parents of children who regularly truant. They do not say what punishment they would mete out to the parents of children who constantly play truant but are not on benefits.
This idea of cutting the benefits of the parent is coming from the government of a country that is signed up to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Each nation that has signed up to the convention is obligated to do their best to meet each convention, one of which is to take steps to end child poverty. It is curious that even though under an obligation to end child poverty the government is still prepared to speak of policies that will obviously increase the poverty of the children of some those who are claiming state benefits.
The apparent desire of the government to punish those on benefits seems to be echoed by the public. More than 100, 000 people signed a petition to have the state benefits of those found guilty of rioting cut. The works and pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith is considering cutting the benefits of anybody who is sent to prison for rioting. There is no talk of what will happen if that person happens to not be on benefits. Perhaps the public and the government are saying that it is only people who are on benefits that riot or they are saying that they will give preferential treatment to those who are able to keep themselves away from state benefits.
Request for a change of attitudesConsidering that there has been so much talk about rioters and their benefits it would be interesting to know how many rioters were actually on benefits. If the vast majority were on benefits it would be interesting to know how much society’s attitudes towards them had lead to anger that might have contributed to the development of the riots. I believe it would be safe to say that the majority of rioters did not know the man whose shooting lead to the original riot.
There must be some way to channel these emotions so they can become productive and not destructive. A change in society’s attitudes might help to cut down the possible incidences of anger and other negative emotions and the undesirable consequences that might come with them. I consider it to be better to focus on the solutions to unemployment than to point a finger at the unemployed. I do understand that there will be those who will wish to keep pointing a finger, because it helps them to feel better about themselves. I believe that it is better to search for a cure for the illness (metaphorically speaking) than to simply criticise the illness and those who suffer from it.