Knowing & Defying History
Los Angeles is a tough city. For starters, there are four million of us. There’s so much smog, unless it rains that we can’t see with clarity across our city from the top of a mountain. There’s enough traffic on the 101, 405, 10, 710, 60, 605 and sometimes even the 210, that we’ll schedule our day (or move) just to avoid the stress of commuting.
Loneliness is an overarching symptom to a wide variety of issues we face corporately and individually. Arrogance and entitlement mark our generation – especially here, in the City of Orphans, since we’ve all migrated far from Aunties, Grandpas and any sort of loving accountability who will tell us the truth.
We also have a pretty young history – supposedly, our oldest building is the Avila Adobe, which was built in 1818, built by Don Francisco Ávila, a wealthy ranchero. It became the military headquarters of Commodore Robert Stockton’s during the Mexican-American War in 1847. And although LA County is approximately 200 years old, its been a bit of a war zone for centuries.
In 1936, the Los Angeles Man was uncovered and its assumed that he was 8,000 to 10,000 years old (some really smart people think he’s more than 20,000 years old, but since other really smart people think that there was no human life in LA before 8-10,000 years ago, they’ve all agreed that he can’t be twice his age, thus settling that he’s 8-10,000 years old… anyways…) Then there is the La Brea woman, who is also presumed to be a prehistoric Chumash Indian, coming in at 9,000 years old and potentially she was LA’s first homicide victim, suffering a blow to the skull – we discovered her possible murder weapon, a rock, right next to her. Fun fact for free: The Saber Tooth Tiger became extinct around this same time.
Eventually Europe, mainly Spain staked its claim for a few centuries, then Mexico, then a Civil War broke out between northern and southern California, then America declared war on Mexico and eventually, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and California became part of America. From the beginning, LA has suffered floods and Earthquakes and territory battles and seems to have always been a melting pot of cultures and people groups fighting for space and a voice.
Post war, schools were formed, health board was formed, officials were elected, San Pedro became our sea port, US Civil War happened, first Jewish Temple was built, Saber Tooth Tiger is found, Wilshire Blvd is formed (because it was the most heavily trafficked), Vibiana Catholic cathedral is created (we almost got married there!), Union and Shell Oil come to town, railways are created, Tournament of the Roses has its first football game, LA Times is created and bombed during the Civil War, Angeles Temple is erected where Aimee McPherson, a faith healer, became the most talked about personality in the 1920’s, stock market crashes, World Wars happen, Union Station gets up and running, smog attacks, floods and earthquakes continue, civil rights movement, museums and Disneyland are created, the 10 freeway opens as an experiment, more fires and flooding, first case of AIDS appears in LA in 1981, LA Riots and from there, most of us would be familiar with our city’s history.
Are you bored to death or fascinated?
Fascinated. Terrifically – There is nothing new under the sun. Today in LA, we deal with the same issues – natural disasters, smog, cultures vying for territory, segregation plaguing our neighborhoods, arrogance and pride threatening our lives, unbelief in authority is thriving… our fight for justice continues.
This week, I was struck and will strive to teach and live by this verse in Jeremiah 29: Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.
I believe a new generation is rising, standing on the shoulders of a history we’re defying. I see a generation pursuing unity in diversity and making “their” problem, “our” problem. We are not idle or indifferent – we are fully yielded and loaded with mission. It’s a good time to be alive.
Why do you think history is so inspiring? What are battles of injustice are you fighting?