“To who it may concern…”

There’s an extraordinary ‘open letter’ in today’s Observer newspaper written by actor Lennie James, who stars in a forthcoming C4 play called Fallout about teenage knife murder.

An open letter is a letter written in public for anybody to read but addressed to specific people. In this case, to anybody who carries a knife.

It’s remarkably powerful, hearfelt and blunt:

When I was where you are now, generations of state agencies, social services, policy-makers and politicians had not abdicated all responsibility for me. We weren’t left to our own devices like you have been. Is it any wonder that you end up expressing yourself in such a violently pathetic way?

We should be ashamed. I am. You have shamed us into a desperate need to do something about ourselves. We have collectively failed you and we should take all the blame that is ours for that… but so should you.

I blame you. I blame you because as a generation you are selfish, self-centred and have little or no empathy for anyone but yourselves. You are politically stunted and socially irresponsible and… you scare us.

Read every word.

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