Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.… For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28, 31)

By chance, due to a wrong turn off a freeway ramp, I ended up driving through the heart of South-Central L.A. just a week after the Rodney King riots. I had seen the television reports, but no 20-inch screen could do justice to the scene: National Guard patrols, mile after mile of charred rubble, “Black Owned” signs spray-painted everywhere in a desperate attempt to deter looters.

Not long before, I had read this passage from Anglican Bishop John V. Taylor, in which he comments on Jesus’ poignant words to the women who grieved as he dragged his cross through the streets of Jerusalem:

As we read the story again, incident by incident, we must be struck by the hard fact that 2,000 years have not made much difference to humanity.… When armed men get a victim into their hands, handcuffed and alone, they can’t resist the urge to knock him about—he’s fair game in the back rooms of Caiaphas’s house or any other police barracks. Weep for yourselves.… Those who have the power to insist that justice is done, still prefer to wash their hands of the matter, and crowds of ordinary, decent, frightened women and men yell the slogans of the moment rather than stopping to think and stand out against the rest. Weep for yourselves.

Shouting And Blaming

As I drove through South-Central, Bishop Taylor’s words from 1986 seemed eerily prophetic.

Yet what surprised me in L.A. was how few people seemed to be weeping. On the radio talk shows, they mostly shouted—about poverty, about George Bush, about the failed Great Society, about drugs and gangs and everything else ...

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