At 05:10 PM 12/9/96 -0800, you wrote:
"We can service the area with food, love, prayer and assistance..."
>As a youth group leader in S. Orange County we are venturing to the inner city for a few days. Not only to experience life outside of our comfortable confines, but to be like Christ and serve these people, who are lost without a Lord and Savior. Your testimony is a sad truth to problems that will only permeate the surrounding communities until we act fast. But what can we do? We can service the area with food, love, prayer and assistance, but where do you knuckle down and toughly love people into a life that is better, more esteemed, where they are valued not by troublesome acts, but by the heart and mind working together. Doing as we as humans were intended to do, loving our neighbor as ourself.
>A very interesting article and pressing upon the heart. Never give up your compassion though, bittnerness rots away at the soul. Be a doer not a watcher, it is only through action that solutions can begin.
Yours in God,
I very much respect what you will be doing in Los Angeles in the next couple days. I am sure you will provide things that people need, etc. in an area where the need is large. In all my time spent working with gangmembers, some of the people who I learned to have the most respect for were the ex-gangmembers who had become very religious. However, I don't think a "few days" in the ghetto is going to hugely change things; it will not by itself change the situation in the long run. When you spend a couple of days there trying to help, you will be fighting sometimes generations of momentum and committment to a gang. You have the best intentions, Lisa, but I wonder how much you can truly do, or even learn, in such a short amount of time. If I hadn't felt with my heart, I never would have gone near the violent neighborhoods of Los Angeles with the desire to help as a teacher. However, I am no fool and I could see the writing on the wall with respect to the fact that the situation was not going to change. I could see it clearly and I knew this to be true in my gut. The good does not always win out over evil on this earth and problems do not always have a solution. This is what places like South-Central and Pico-Union have taught me, and no amount of religion or good intentions since has ever been able to convince me otherwise.
My heart got me into wanting to work near downtown Los Angeles, but my mind and experience told me that one need be a Don Quixote disposed to joust at windmills forever to want to keep working there to improve things. Either that or there need be an unshakeable emotional bond to the area which allows a person to hope against hope that a Godforsaken place might somehow change even though there be not an ounce of evidence towards that conclusion and everything in the world pointing the other way. Perhaps it is the work of a Christlike figure such as yourself. I admire that very much, but have to be true to myself as well. If I didn't leave Los Angeles and Pico-Union specifically, I was going to become even more bitter than I already had become. I feel much better now that I do not live surrounded by violence and chaos. I wish all my old students well in their lives, but I had to be honest with myself.
I would be nearly the first person to rejoice if South-Central and Pico-Union were in the future to become very much happier places than they are today. But I am not going to hold my breath waiting for such a day...
The article I wrote about Los Angeles was straight from my heart and what my experiences there taught me over time. And with all due respect, I think if you read my other webpages you will see that I have done quite a lot personally to try and improve the situation in Los Angeles (re. "be a doer and not a watcher"). Again, I respect your work and point of view, but man is an animal by nature and only with education and maturity do we rise above that. Hopefully you will be able to touch some people and improve the situation in a small way during your upcoming Los Angeles trips.
Watch yourself on the streets.
Very Truly Yours,