It seems hard to fathom how life can go from big plans and audacious dreams, to simply survival. Many of us in America today, and many around the world for that matter, are going through the biggest trial of our lives.
An increase in the number of homeless families, shuttered businesses, and staggering unemployment has crept into the part of the world where I live and work, in the heart of Los Angeles. Many children in California, and all across America, will now attend this coming school year online, forcing parents to quit their jobs and help their children get through school while at home.
The lockdown has impacted the poorest of the poor in a disproportionate way. Recent reports from parents throughout Los Angeles — families that my colleagues and I have been visiting for over two decades — describe their children feeling trapped with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Traumatizing would be an adequate word to describe what is happening in this city.
Poverty. Unemployment. Uncertainty. Trauma. Survival. These words have been frequent in our vocabulary these days, and they certainly don’t evoke the image of a sunny atmosphere or the can-do spirit I was taught to embrace with every fiber of my being. To put it bluntly: these words are the language of fear.
But laying in bed one sleepless night recently, it occurred to me that we simply cannot allow the new language of fear to become the script written about our legacy. The world around us can change quickly, and there will always be circumstances out of our control. Yet no matter how large or small our problems, we can’t let our current dilemma rob us of hope.
Matthew Barnett is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center and senior pastor of Angelus Temple. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families in Los Angeles through residential and outreach programs.