Dover Beach UK Riots

Human beings have one faculty which, though it is of the greatest utility for collective purposes,is most pernicious for individuation and that is the faculty of imitation”.

When I look at the majority of these young people caught up in the mob of the crowd it begs the question that Jung asked :
"Have I any religious experience and immediate relation to God and hence that certainty which will keep me, as an individual from dissolving in the crowd ?"

Jung answers the question and also perhaps helps explain why we see the acting out of scenes of wilfulness and chaos especially by adolescents who are on the threshold of life changes where a sure guide is needed  to make their way through the difficulties associated with such a transition. 

That religion has always served such an important purpose in the life of man and that post modern society seems arrogant enough to want to jettison such help does not bode well for the future.

"To this question there is a positive answer only when the individual is willing to fulfill the demands of rigorous self-examination and self -knowledge.
The driving force in a society devoid of a religious or spiritual sense  so far as it is possible for us to grasp it, seems to be in essence only an urge towards self realisation." 
( Jung means by self -realisation here, the worst aspects and shadow side of the demanding, violently assertive and always self referential and selfish ego. )

Dover Beach
Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

 Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,

 Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Image above from here

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

Looking at the depressing scenes rolling onto the TV scenes these past few days and wondering about it all, this Matthew Arnold poem Dover Beach helps to depict the situation many people in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world find themselves in.
By chance I came across a blog called Dover Beach and these words by the blogs author although not written to coincide with the riot scenes of the last few days certainly do apply.

"Belief and faith in formal religion is retreating down the “naked shingles of the world.”
There is a receding tide of faith and religion is not being grasped as an informing and shaping principle any more by people in modern life
But with the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the Sea of Faith sounding in his ears, Matthew Arnold paints the picture of an increasingly secular world bereft of any spiritual motive, a world which offers: “Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.”  there is nothing to match the melancholy landscape of his poem “Dover Beach.”

His portrait of the world’s receding tide of faith is authentic and poignant:

“And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

 Perhaps it is within the poem and the metaphor of the cyclical nature of the tide there lies the hope that all is not lost and that faith will return !!
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