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HEARTS of the CITY | Navigating the Real World

A rotating panel of experts from the worlds of philosophy, psychology and religion offer their perspective on the dilemmas that come with living in Southern California.

August 28, 1996|Larry B. Stammer, Times religion writer

"Inglewood and Los Angeles are competing for a new $200-million sports arena for the Kings and Lakers to replace the Forum in Inglewood. A decision to leave Inglewood would be a psychological and financial blow to that city. Its mayor said the city would use "any means necessary" to keep the teams. But Los Angeles is pressing hard, saying a new arena would be a boon to revitalization of downtown and an investment in the future. Is this a case of civic Darwinism--the survival of the fittest? What is a city's ethical obligation?"

The Venerable Karuna Dharma

Vice abbot, International Buddhist Meditation Center, Los Angeles

"One must always ask, 'Is this action I am about to take harmful to myself or others? Is this action helpful to myself and others?' It is rather obvious that either city will profit from getting the new sports arena and will be harmed if they do not receive it. Nonetheless, since Inglewood currently has the Forum, it appears that they would be harmed the most if the teams were to pull out of their city. After all, Los Angeles does have the Dodgers and a brand new convention center. Inglewood, however, will have nothing if the Kings and Lakers leave. Los Angeles should not be too greedy to have all things. They will also profit by having a new sports arena close to them."

Rabbi Joel Rembaum

Senior rabbi, Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles

"An American city's obligation is to seek the well-being of its citizenry in a manner that conforms to the U.S. Constitution, to the laws of the state and the ordinances of that city. The Bible sees a city as also being responsible for reinforcing the moral fiber of its residents. As long as the cities of Los Angeles and Inglewood engage in a competition for an arena that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of our society, and as long as the investments of money, time and energy associated with such a competition work to the benefit of all the citizens of the city and not a privileged few, then such a competition is legitimate."

Maher M. Hathout

Physician and spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles

"We glorify competition, even praise the big fish eating the small one. Our way of sharing the pie is to fight for the whole pie. The common good, or allocating the facilities where they are needed most, is not even entertained. If moving the arena from Inglewood will cause harm to Inglewood, and bringing it to Los Angeles will benefit Los Angeles, in my book preventing harm is more important than bringing benefit. I propose a conference between the cities, supervised by a state or federal body. Settlement would be based not on who can muscle his way through, but on what is less harmful and more beneficial to those most in need."

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