By Pam Shannon
Community Affairs Director Church of Scientology of Los Angeles
s we in Los Angeles are propelled into the 21st century, we find ourselves facing a troubling paradox. For all of the technological advances that continue to make life and work easier, we have not made equal strides in social progress. Declining moral and education standards and the commensurate increase of violence and drug abuse indicate that we need to rapidly “close the gap” on a large scale.
Unfortunately, the quick and easy answer is often sought over the truly workable solution that brings lasting reform or change. Regrettably, the worst casualties of this quick-fix phenomenon are our youth who, indeed, represent our very future.
That this future is a matter of grave concern is seen in the fact that where problems in education and morals were once tackled by both educators and parents, today tens of thousands of children in Los Angeles, and even toddlers, are instead placated with psychotropic, mind-altering drugs. It is a prevalent issue in all states and has gained world-wide attention throughout 1999 and 2000; we address it from several perspectives in this edition of Freedom.
A similar scenario exists for the countless prisoners, drug addicts, homeless and other less fortunate individuals trapped in this revolving door of quick fixes. While expensive programs come and go with the changing frequency of women’s hemlines, the cost in human misery and wasted funds mounts.
As a city and nation unified by shared ideals, we can no longer count upon government alone to resolve our most crucial problems. The long-term ramifications of our social shortcomings demand the increasingly active participation of those without vested interests—religious and community groups and concerned individuals. This need has been recognized by many, particularly in Los Angeles where a growing number of tutoring, mentoring and other community betterment and reform programs have brought important benefits to many of the forgotten members of our communities.
Churches of Scientology and many of their members are privileged to work alongside other concerned religious and community groups in such efforts in both the greater Los Angeles area and society at large.
And regarding that most crucial issue of our youth, local Scientologists provide a leading voice for reform in the mental health field, as highlighted in our cover story. They are also active in programs to restore morality and bring literacy to our youth and to rehabilitate criminals and drug addicts. Furthermore, the Church’s Volunteer Ministers Corps, also featured in this issue, works with a wide variety of city, county and private groups and relief agencies to help Los Angeles respond to emergencies.
Solving our societal ills requires concerted work on the part of all those who care, and increasing cooperation between private and public sectors.
This is a responsibility Scientologists from all walks of life are well aware of, and we look forward to continuing our work with an even greater number of groups and individuals throughout the greater Los Angeles area to meet these challenges.
As always, we look forward to hearing from you.