I was living about 80 miles up the coast from LA during the second Rodney King trial, the one when there was no riot. It was pretty amazing.
Before the trial gun sales were over the top. There were more guns than people in LA someone said. Everything shut down. Major concerts and sports events were cancelled. People left town in droves and the ones who stayed stocked up on supplies and hunkered down.
Community leaders and preachers were on the air 24/7 beseeching their fellow human beings to chill. It was fierce, this constant bombardment of voices begging, pleading, reasoning with people, desperately praying for peace.
LA was a powderkeg. Everybody knew, one spark and it was all up in flames.
The verdict came, a mixed bag. You could have heard a pin drop. The clock ticked, another minute passed and another. An hour passed. No shots fired. We looked about very carefully, afraid to move or even breathe very deeply.
Another hour. And then the night passed and in the morning – nothing. Peace. No violent things had happened at all. In fact, it had been one of the quietest nights in LA in years.
And there was a collective sigh and renewed hope. We can choose peace if we stop and think about it.
I was very sad to see what happened in LA this past week. I just don’t see why people can’t walk down the street and express themselves without a riot squad showing up.
It isn’t just LA, it’s Virginia Tech, the disaster in Iraq and not being able to let your child play outside in your own yard, on your own block, without fear.
We can choose peace. I have seen whole cities do it, whole countries. I have seen wars stopped and presidents impeached. It won’t be easy but if we really want it we can do it.