2012 Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year Message


2012

In his annual New Year address, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, focuses on the value of young people in society and reflects on a year that saw civil disturbances.


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NEWS REPORT: In Hackney,

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the disturbances began in the early evening.

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-NEWS REPORT:

-There are 16,000 police on standby in the capital tonight.

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-INTERVIEW:

-I don't care.

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I've never seen such a disregard for human life.

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Quite a lot of the images we're likely

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to remember from the riots in the summer

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will be of young people out of control in the streets,

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walking off with looted property

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from shops, noisily confronting police and so on.

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It all feeds into the national habit

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of being suspicious and hostile

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when we see groups of youngsters on street corners,

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or outside shops and bus shelters.

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We walk a bit more quickly

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and hope we can pass without some sort of confrontation.

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The events of the summer were certainly horrific.

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They show us a face of our society we don't like to think about,

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angry, destructive, lawless.

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But it's crucial to remember what we saw on the streets in August

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is just one facet of a bigger and much more heartbreaking problem.

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The youngsters on the streets may have looked like a big crowd,

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but they are a minority of their generation.

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The minority whose way of dealing with their frustrations

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is by way of random destructiveness and irresponsibility.

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Most people of their age strongly share the feeling

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of dismay at this behaviour.

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REPORTER: What do think about what's happened?

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I've seen bad things. I don't approve of it.

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'I've come to visit the charity Kids Company, in London,

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'where today, a lot of young people are together to pack food parcels

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'for needy families in the neighbourhood.

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'When you have a chance of talking to young people like this,

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'you get a sense of how they feel about the society they're in

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'and the challenges they face.'

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I think there is a lot of stereotypes that follow us around.

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And sometimes it can be frustrating.

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And if they see you wearing a hoodie they think, "They're bad,

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"they're gang members."

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We're seen as the troublemakers that don't really want to do

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anything with ourselves, but in fact we really do.

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When you come from a background full of people who try to push you,

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like peer pressure of going into violence and gangs and stuff,

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it's easier to get away to a place where it's nothing about crime.

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It's trying to make a better life for someone.

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What we do see in the media is just a minority

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and because of that minority, it spoils it for the majority.

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They need see this to understand that us as young people,

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we're not all bad people, we can do things for people.

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I believe if you're young and fit, go out there and work,

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find your own way in life.

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There are people worse off than us, you get me?

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I just want to go into education, study, have a career

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and live a good life.

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We have to ask, what kind of society is it

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that lets down so many of its young people,

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that doesn't provide enough good role models and drives youngsters

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further into unhappiness and anxiety,

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by only showing them suspicion and negativity?

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When you see the gifts they can offer,

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the energy that can be released when they feel safe and loved,

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you see what a tragedy we so often allow to happen.

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'Look at the work done by groups like The Children's Society,

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'or the astonishing network of Kids Company here in London.

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'And you see what can be done to wake up that energy

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'and let it flourish for everyone's good.'

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Thank you very much, everyone! Well done!

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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'One of the unique things in the Christian faith,'

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one of its great contributions to our moral vision,

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is the way it has spoken about children and young people.

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Whether it's Jesus blessing children,

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or St Paul encouraging a young church leader, saying,

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"Don't let people look down on you because you're young."

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Or St Benedict in his rule for monks,

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saying that you need to attend to the youngest as well as the oldest.

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'Christian faith has underlined the essential importance

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'of giving young people the respect they deserve.

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'Of course they're not infallible and have a lot to learn.'

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So do we all.

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But being grown-up doesn't mean forgetting about the young.

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A good New Year's resolution might be to think what you can do locally

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to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities

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for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment.

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And above all, perhaps we should just be asking

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how we make friends with our younger fellow citizens,

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for the sake of our happiness as well as theirs.

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A very happy and blessed New Year to you all.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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In his annual New Year address, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, focuses on the value of young people in our society and reflects on a year that saw civil disturbances and rising unemployment.


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