Anger—frustration—hatred—discontent—rage. These fan the flames of all riots. But what is the root cause?
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Millions stormed into the streets of Paris to protest a new labor law that was scheduled to go into effect in April 2006. The rioting, looting and burning left in its wake many burned buildings, scorched vehicles and reportedly even a number of deaths. The objective of the rioting youth was to force a repeal of the new legislation.
The new law was designed to change a long-standing labor law that protected jobs. The present law ensures that, after the first six months of work, an individual is guaranteed employment for life (unless he commits a crime or commits fraud against his employer). For decades, the citizens of France have enjoyed a mandate of lifetime employment.
Under the proposed change in the labor laws, employers had the right to terminate at will, meaning without cause, any employee under the age of 26. This could occur at anytime within two years of being hired. With a national unemployment rate of around 21%, many of the French youth—who felt they were being unfairly targeted—protested against this measure.
Paradoxically, the law that provoked millions of French protesters was actually intended to create employment. The reasoning behind the proposed change was that current employment laws are so strict that employers are reluctant to hire new employees. These laws make recruiting for new hires a costly and arduous process. The thinking was that loosening the reins of the current law would introduce greater flexibility into the labor market and encourage employers to hire more young people.
This move was interpreted as having the opposite intentions. Mass discontent soon deteriorated into chaos in the streets. Rather than being accepted as a stop-gap solution, the measure actually focused attention on France’s chronic unemployment problem.
After weeks of protests, blockaded universities and riots, the country’s youth had once again dealt a humiliating blow to France’s center-right government, forcing it to reconsider the unpopular legal change.
Months earlier, in November 2005, rioting and civil unrest had spread from the immigrant communities of Paris suburbs to some 300 towns across the country. It was reported that this national crisis was sparked by the accidental deaths of two French-African teenagers who were said to be hiding from police.
Many in the affected communities took offense at the remarks of Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, who called the troublemakers “scum” and “riffraff,” and promised to clean out the problem areas with a power hose.
The crisis has forced France to take a long, hard look at some of its policies. One long ignored issue is the nation’s failure to integrate its African and Muslim minorities. Over time, this disregarded issue grew into a volatile mixture that needed only a spark to cause it to explode into the streets.
This was also reflected in the nationwide anger about high unemployment and discrimination, which was further inflamed by the reaction of government officials. France has taken a tough stance on the rioters, with the interior minister saying that local authorities were instructed to deport foreigners convicted of involvement. But this only served to pour gasoline on the fire of frustration among French-born immigrants from the nation’s former colonies.
Calling for calm, President Jacques Chirac attempted to defuse civil unrest with words of appeasement. Mr. Chirac’s personal intervention attests to the magnitude of the crisis. He acknowledged the ongoing frustrations of troubled neighborhoods, but also said that violence was not the answer, and that efforts must be stepped up to combat it.
At a news conference held with Spain’s visiting prime minister, Mr. Chirac commented, “There is a need to respond strongly and rapidly to the undeniable problems faced by many residents of underprivileged neighborhoods around our cities,” adding, “Whatever our origins, we are all the children of the republic, and we can expect the same rights” (MSNBC).
But he also pointed at the parents, saying, “Too many minors” have joined the violence, and that some were “pushed to the fore by their elders” (ibid.).
Rioting is not a new phenomenon. A riot could happen just about anywhere, if enough hatred and discontent infected a large number of people. It is self-driven by a mob mentality seeking to gain the upper hand. But does that exact true justice? Does it get to the root of the problem?
Many have justified riots by claiming to seek justice, to right wrongs, to find vindication in a corrupt system of injustice. But look at the poisonous fruits of rioting: intimidation, violence, destruction, theft, mutilation, sexual assault and murder. Where is the justice in these?
The Bible—which is the foundation of true knowledge—warns all men, “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2). Riots are forbidden! No matter how just a cause may seem, in God’s eyes there is no such thing as seeking justice through a mob bent on revenge.
To riot is to disobey God, and this spirit of disobedience comes from a source: “Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Like a 24-hour satellite station, Satan the devil—whom Scripture identifies as “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)—broadcasts carnal thoughts, attitudes, moods and ideas. He is the author of the chaos, confusion, violence and depravity that always result from rioting. In fact, because so many live a whole lifestyle that resembles a riot, the Christian so often is condemned for having changed to conduct that excludes this Man’s social problems—whether they involve individuals or communities, or are national or global—cannot be solved through human effort alone. This is because the root of his problems is spiritual in nature; trying to address his problems with physical solutions, based on human knowledge, is futile. It does not remedy the cause, but rather, at best, temporarily treats the effects. Man—of himself—does not have the proper framework within his fund of physical knowledge to properly analyze and exact lasting solutions that address the cause.
God’s revealed spiritual laws provide the only sound framework to properly evaluate and prioritize physical information and spiritual understanding. Without that framework, which has been sorely missing from the world’s fund of knowledge, problem-solving is a hit-or-miss proposition—mostly resulting in “misses.”
No wonder God declares, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). That same verse says they have “rejected knowledge”—spiritual knowledge—and they have “forgotten the law of God.” Yes, in this age of the Internet, information, knowledge and learning are abundant, but the true knowledge of God is missing. It has been rejected, laid aside and even impugned by humanity.
No individual or group is solely guilty, because all human beings have participated in this ignorance since creation. Throughout history, men have excluded God’s revealed spiritual laws from their knowledge. They have willingly chosen to be ignorant of the laws that would solve all man’s social problems. Human beings, led by carnal nature, do not want to be under the subjection of their Creator (Rom. 8:7).
This little understood cause of the world’s ills—the rejection of the essential spiritual foundation—has everything to do with why the world does not have peace! It is the central reason for the problems plaguing mankind—whether they are illegal drugs, terrorism, poverty, crime or rioting. God must be brought into the picture, and not in the “believe and be saved” religious sentimentality so prevalent today—but the revealed knowledge of the true God, His laws and the great purpose He is working out on earth.
Certainly, the churches of this world have failed to teach this. You owe it to yourself to discover what is written in the pages of your Bible. It identifies the spiritual causes of violent crime and other social problems troubling mankind. And more importantly, God’s Word possesses the long-range solutions that will one day be put into force throughout the earth.
The world at large has been fooled into mass disobedience (Rev. 12:9)—led down the wrong path. But this will soon be remedied.
This will be accomplished by Jesus Christ, when He returns to restore God’s government on the earth. Under Him, this world will be ruled by the kingdom of God. At that time, knowledge of the true God and His ways will no longer be suppressed, ignored, glossed over or covered up. No longer will humanity struggle to determine good and evil based on incomplete humanly-acquired knowledge.
Violent crime will pass into the pages of history, as God intervenes in human affairs to set up His government over all nations. Hostility between human beings will become a thing of the past. The laws of God will be taught in a restructured, worldwide educational system (Isa. 2:2-4). Every facet of life will be affected, resulting in a prosperous, happy world, filled with true learning: “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa.11:9).
Thankfully, that world is coming sooner than many think!