Matthew Barnett on Pandemic Lockdown in Los Angeles, Trauma, and Changing Our Language

Shoppers line up outside a Costco in London in March, as people continue to stock up on food amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Dominic Lipinski / Associated Press)

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.

Matthew Barnett is the co-founder of the Dream Center church in California. | (Courtesy of The Dream Center)

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.

What should we do instead? Well, for one thing, let’s double down on compassion. Let’s maintain a heart to love our neighbors and serve them well. And with that, we’ll have to adapt as well.

Here at the Dream Center — typically a safe haven for folks escaping homelessness and healing from addiction — we have adapted to fill a gap in school lunches by providing a drive-thru food line to feed the school families impacted by the shutdown. We expect millions to be fed on our campus, including those served over the previous months and through the end of the year.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Matthew Barnett