THE Los Angeles riots earlier this year underlined the %J smoldering tensions between blacks and Korean merchants. Suspicion and mistrust on both sides were a warning to communities everywhere that unless black and Korean leaders come together to talk over their problems, the threat of renewed interethnic conflict would continue to hang over troubled inner-city neighborhoods.
That is why a recent gathering of some 400 members of Baltimore's black and Korean communities at Douglas Memorial Community Church in Bolton Hill was so heartening. It showed that Baltimoreans can come together "to sing a new song" of peace and unity, as the Rev. Michael Curry of St. James Episcopal Church noted. It showed also "there's more that brings us together than divides us," as Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke told worshipers during the two-hour ecumenical service.
It was fitting that the gathering took place at the church the Schmoke family attends. The mayor encouraged the service and had his aides help organize it. Elected officials and religious leaders have an obligation to get out front in fostering better understanding between the two communities. Members of more than 30 area churches participated. But the aims of the gathering won't be achieved by one service of intercommunal worship at a single church. The Douglass Memorial assembly should be an example to churches across the city to join hands in working for reconciliation and respect among all the peoples of Baltimore's varied ethnic quilt.
There's a very simple word for this lofty ideal: It's called brotherhood. Let it flower in Baltimore, not because it's politically expedient or economically profitable but because it's the right .. thing to do.