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Speaking Up

A look at noteworthy addresses in the Southland.

July 30, 1993| Richard Dreyfuss, actor and founder of L.A. Works, spoke Wednesday at the Hotel Inter-Contintental on "Social Activism in the United States and Los Angeles." His remarks were sponsored by Town Hall of California. From his address: and

On The Mood in America Today "There has been something living in America that cannot be reduced to a prime-time sound bite, which is intangible and which is the worst thing to happen to us, ever.

Point to a time in our history that was not ferocious with energy, with a striving to prevail. Where is the national energy? The national confidence? The national identity?

As I grew up, I prided myself on having a special romantic attachment to the year 2000. . . . I thought of the millennium as a time of reflection, but with enormous energy. It never once occurred to me that we, of all people, would have run out of steam.

I take real personal the world my children will inherit. I think it is a bitter crime that they will inherit anything less than a world of clean air and clean water, of safe streets and great opportunity. But to add to their burden this attitude of defeatism or exhaustion disgusts and enrages me.

. . . The filter through which we have perceived the world has always been self-confident, perhaps misguided at times, but so be it. We have believed in ourselves and our abilities.

Now our future is different and we have no such confident world view. . . . We have had our resilience and our optimism beaten down and we have become tentative and confused."

On Taking Action So, I come to ideas of action. I believe there are actions to be taken, individually, that can accomplish a great deal toward reawakening an intimacy with what is great in America and what is needed for America.

. . . I believe in national service. National service is the best unused idea of the last half-century. It recognizes that unless we revive the impulses of service we will find in modern America no appropriate place to connect ourselves to the nation except the fake experiences of the evening news or the local mall. It not only assumes that there are things to do, but that doing those things can be ennobling.

. . . In 1991 I helped found L.A. Works, which rests on the idea that not only is there much to do for L.A., but as importantly, that there are thousands of people here in the city who want to help and are willing to give of their formidable talents, if they knew where best they could be used.

. . . I don't pretend that L.A. Works or national and community service are cure-alls, but they are incremental parts of the necessary action we all can take, served and server, that reclaim our city for ourselves.

I do not believe that this is a time like other times. This is a crisis time when events and attitudes combine to create a distinct fork in our road. We will either continue to drift away from one another and the ideals and hopes that brought us here, and the American era will be a memory. Or we will prevail over this hesitancy and give our children a country and a city that resembles one our parents gave us.

Looking Ahead * Monday: Larry King, talk show host, will speak at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, noon. His remarks will be sponsored by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, (213) 628-2333.

Announcements concerning prominent speakers in Los Angeles should be sent to Speaking Up, c/o Times researcher Nona Yates, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053

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