Riots in Los Angeles

I have been thinking about the events of last weekend in Los Angeles in the light of the Easter season. I've been asking myself, "Where's the resurrection in all this?" It seems entirely bad, the deaths certainly, but the destruction as well. Then I realized that the resurrection is that the people rose up and made themselves heard. Though most of the action was wrong, it showed that these oppressed people were still alive, their spirits not wholly crushed under the boot of our racist society. The voiceless have again raised their voices.

But where is the resurrection for us who are presumably their oppressors? Racism is so thoroughly built into our culture that to extirpate racism would be effectively to extirpate our culture, or to change it into something no longer recognizably our culture. Our racism is inescapable. Even our efforts to amend or correct only define the distinction more sharply. Our efforts not only make the boundary of race more clearly defined, but also reinforce it in that by our very ability to make change, we are shown the more dominant over the oppressed.

Bill Clinton described the riots as "an alarm bell in the night." We may hope that the present administration does not turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream? Dreaming is, after all, what we have been doing about racism in the US. The violence in LA emerged from the repressed dreams of the poor. The idea of a non-racist US is another dream. The administration's former and future plans are a dream, and perhaps one foisted upon us by spin doctors and skilled communicators, who offer their picture of our country as a dream for us to dream, a sales pitch, so that we may also become the oppressed, or exploited, to some degree. And what happened in LA is a nightmare.

Perhaps the resurrection for us is to rise from sleep and stay awake. We might then look at our country and what has happened, and repent of it. We could rise to repent on behalf of our own people. We might be a faithful remnant such as the one we hear of in the Hebrew prophets. If a few of the people turn to the Lord, and cry out from the heart of the nation's sin, who knows but that the Lord might not turn again and give us life in the midst of death, that the Lord might redeem our nation with mighty acts of grace and miracle.

The name in traditional spirituality for this kind of prayer is the prayer of reparation. There used to be prayers of reparation to the Sacred Heart, reparation for insults to the Blessed Sacrament, reparation for the sins of the world. So now in our present moment, we may be called to a new prayer of reparation for the sins of the world. That would be a true resurrection in our hearts.