- Eric Allenbaugh was a student in Southern California about thirty years ago. After a football game in the fall of 1959, he and his girlfriend were leaving the stadium when someone kicked him from behind. When he turned around he encountered one of the local teen gangs, armed with brass knuckles. They beat him and he ended up in the hospital with internal bleeding and a concussion. He nearly died. Fortunately, his girlfriend was not harmed.
After he recovered, some of his friends approached him and said, “Let’s go get those guys!” Unfortunately retaliation is the way these kind of problems are often settled. Part of Eric said, “Yes,” but part of him said, “No.” He knew revenge did not work. It only accelerates and intensifies conflict. He wanted to do something that would break the chain of counterproductive events. So Eric gathered a diverse group of kids and they formed the “Brotherhood Committee” to work on reducing racial tension. Not everyone bought into this program of cross-cultural exchange but many joined the effort. Two years later, Eric became the student body president and about 3,000 students joined in the effort to do things differently. They built bridges between cultures and ethnic groups. Their efforts made a tremendous difference in the community. Hate and indifference were replaced with trust and cooperation.