The Twilight of Tolerance?

(Photo credit MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Behold the good people of K-town,  marching down Wilshire, in protest….
Against climate change? No.
Trump? No.
Kim Jong-Un?
A homeless shelter on Vermont.

This is the point of frustration we have reached in Los Angeles.

Faced with the abnormal being made permanent, the city is in rebellion.

There’s just one catch. With one city councilperson per 300,000 residents, rebellions can be safely ignored.    The Koreatown shelter, mightily resisted in May, is quietly being moved downmarket to working-class linguistically divided Macarthur Park.

What are the odds Latinx Armenian Filipino Thai Middle Eastern White Hipster Van Nuys is going to escape a similar fate?

Lets put it this way, we are unable to get the palm weeds pulled in front of the Valley Government Center.    The weeds don’t pay anybody. They don’t have a lobby. But in The Nuys they own the sidewalk.   One can obtain Bitcoin at an ATM on Oxnard Blvd, then cross the street into a state of nature. Such are the contradictions we enjoy now.

Every time you see one of these guys understand there are people who do not live in your neighborhood making money off them.    Your blight is another person’s meal ticket, shuffling about in rags.  He has a power structure behind him. You do not.

Service providers with a stake in the outcome infiltrate public meetings with shills holding signs and nary a peep of contradiction do we hear from the Times.  The lobbying by interested parties and the coverage of same by local media has become a feedback loop of assumed agreement.

Among the unexamined assumptions are these:
Is there a right to hop a bus to LA, squat on the sidewalk and declare residency?
Are such people entitled to free housing and health care?
Can Angelenos demand sobriety and labor in return for public assistance?
Housing is cheap and abundant across the U.S. Why is LA the solution?

Mr. UpintheValley votes No, No, Yes and Good Question to the above.  My neighbors would as well. Which is why we do not hear the Issue of Issues debated in the city government.  We get warnings instead.  They will educate us about our misconceptions.

Who among us practices the inclusivity he preaches? Very few.  If there is a person in the power structure downtown who has opened his home to a crack addict he has been awfully discreet about it.

Our ability to live Christ’s example is daily impeded by the dark river of social ills policymakers have created.   The current is too strong to cast our nets as fishers of men, even in those off moments when we wish to.   City Hall is breaking the bonds of fellowship between citizens. It has made us all a little harder, something we’re beginning to recognize in ourselves and resent.

Almost everything about Van Nuys has changed dramatically for the better in the past decade.   Except for Shantytown, Inc.

As my friend Wise Andrew put it, we may be looking at the twilight of tolerance.

A walk with Matthew 7:12

DSCN1125

All along the watchtower, neo-Gothic angels keep the view…

An inscription beneath reads: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

But few people look up and notice.  Fewer still know that before this magnificent edifice was the Park Plaza Hotel it was the Los Angeles headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Elks.   The Elks are one of those old school American organizations which require membership based on ‘good moral character’, belief in God and explicit rejection of the Communist Party.  The landmark Lodge 99 was designed in 1925 by Claud Beelman and hosted Olympic indoor swimming events.

The Elks sold the building due to shrinking attendance.  It’s now a hotel in name only that rents out for swanky weddings and film shoots.

DSCN1118-1

Across the street, in Macarthur Park, is a monument to the Hungarian Uprising.  Few people know (and the plaque at the base of the memorial makes no mention of it) the Uprising was against a Communist regime, backed by Soviet Union.  Much of the resistance was undertaken by Christians and they were crushed without mercy.  The crackdown was supported here in America by the Worker’s World Party, which later supported the Chinese government suppression of democracy in Tiananmen Square. The WWP is known today as the ANSWER Coalition, organizer of many anti-War and Occupy Wall Street rallies and marches.

Some of which have been held in….Macarthur Park.

The Lightless portion is known as the Democratic People's Republic
The Lightless portion is known as the People’s Republic

Few today remember Douglas Macarthur was the Commander in Chief of the Pacific and would-be savior of North Korea.  Sixty years after he was relieved of command by President Truman,  North Koreans are still living in darkness, literally.  They’re three inches shorter than their brethren to the south, and possession of a Bible is punishable by hard labor. Life in a prison camp north of the 38th Parallel is….abridged, and that’s a mixed blessing.

After the war many Korean refugees came to Los Angeles and settled near Macarthur Park, namesake of their liberation.

This isn’t intended to be a political blog…but it’s remarkable how much history one can absorb in a single walk if you take pictures and read inscriptions.  In fact as I was doing so, a van promoting a North Korean rescue organization rolled past and I was reminded of my friend Henny. Specifically her father, who as a young boy was placed into an execution line by the Communists. He took a bullet to the chest, woke an hour later, gravely wounded but alive, and staggered back to his village and found his mother in the church where she had been praying continuously since he was taken. He went on to have three daughters and own several convenience stores in Downey.

DSCN1140

Not far off, I encountered three street preachers, busking beneath the shade trees to a small audience of derelicts. They were undeterred, and I felt regret for missing mass this morning.

The only edifice which matters at the end, the one which lasts, is the Word we carry in our hearts. Even the magnificat of Notre Dame will slowly empty of the faithful and become a way station for tourists.  The Word endures, even when the material world is reduced to a prisoner and a guard standing together in a labor camp scratching a cross in the dust with a stick.  Time and tide will sweep the labor camp away, but as long as we continue to gather in his name, if only under a tree, the Word will reach the grandchildren.