Building a World of Trust, Common Courtesy and Decency
Rev. Charlene Tebar
We hear it on the news with its ceaseless blare: our society is drowning in
a maelstrom of turmoil and strife. Violence, war, crime and man's inhumanity to
man dominate the airwaves and fill the headlines.
Los Angeles too often finds itself the focus of trouble as elements in its
communities implode in urban warfare. The statistics are grim indeed:
- Street gangs here now number close to 8,000, with membership nearing 200,000.
- The city's overall crime totals continue to exceed national averages year
after year. In five of the seven major crime categories, LA's totals exceed national
averages by as much as 300 percent, as is the case for murders and robberies.
- One-fourth of the county's children live in extreme poverty — i.e., below
the federal poverty threshold.
On a personal level, just raising and feeding a family, earning a living wage,
holding a job and remaining safe in an insecure world each present real, daily
challenges. It's no wonder that many question where true happiness can be found
(and if it can be found at all), bowed as they are under the anxiety and unrelenting
stress of today's hectic and turbulent society.
But in the face of it all, there are thousands of people in Southern California
who, every day, engage in activities to reverse that downward trend by building
trust, advancing common courtesy and decency. They do so in countless ways: from
community volunteering to youth mentoring to pro bono legal aid to neighborhood
watch — to you name it. Here we have a citizenry that continues to defy the escalating
turmoil, violence and hatred that a dozen years ago pundits and naysayers judged
to be our fate.
In this edition of LA Freedom, we feature the teamwork of community
leaders and groups who are working together to tackle social ills with effective
initiatives that are bringing about change that you can see, hear and feel on
our streets, in our schools and homes.
The opening of The Way to Happiness
Foundation's international headquarters in Glendale is but one example. We
also spotlight the miraculous results of programs to help area residents — adults
and children alike — to overcome barriers to learning. Examples are the LA-based Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.) and World Literacy Crusade, highly effective grass roots programs using L. Ron Hubbard's learning methods.
And in our feature “Community Fights the Psychiatric Steamroller,” we expose an insidious threat to the rights of many citizens within the greater LA area.
As always, we present news of actual headway being made for the betterment of our community. And, as always, your views and comments are important to us.