03/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How Haiti, Scott Brown and the Underwear Bomber Can Move Us to Action Rather Than Gloom

What a couple of months it has been. The underwear bomber, the earthquake in Haiti, untold loss of life to suicide shahids in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now the sucker punch to the dreams of the Cambridge Berkeley Lalaland Axis. The Liberal Lion from Massachusetts is replaced by Scott Brown, a pseudo-Joe Six Pack who drives a gas guzzling pickup even though he doesn't need to and promises to stand in the way of ObamaCare. To the three Tea Partiers out there reading this, don't believe everything you hear about Brown. He's a real estate lawyer for god's sake, with degrees from Tufts University and Boston College Law School, two homes, three condos in Boston, and a timeshare in Aruba. If Brown's the everyman, then I'm the next President of The Heritage Foundation. Since I'm not, and neither is Brown what he pretends to be, my advice to the Democratic operatives is to take a lesson from Charlie Rangel's experience and start looking at the Senator-elect's tax returns to see whether he has paid all of the tax due on income from his rental properties.

What do these seemingly disparate events have in common? They challenge us all including this non-native but proud Angeleno to get off his butt and work locally or globally for the change then-candidate Si Se Puede said we can achieve. As Albert Einstein famously wrote, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." The deflated economy, failing schools, mass transit- and working infrastructure-starved cities, a gaping income divide, and war and more war, are all problems of our making. Whether it's helping LA build the subway to the sea, crafting a lasting solution to a still-largely broken Los Angeles Unified School District, administering to the injured in Haiti and elsewhere, or finding truly clean alternatives to oil and gas, we all have an obligation to leave this world a better place than we have found it.

The Brown victory/Democratic nightmare was a last straw of sorts for my complacency. With pounding rain offering a strikingly different view of "it never rains in Southern California" I opened my browser around 7 pm Pacific Tuesday to read the unsettling news that Martha Coakley had flubbed a 30 point lead against a virtually unknown Republican challenger for the Senate seat formerly held by universal health care's life long champion.

Nuf said, the Democrats have only themselves to blame for this loss. The Massachusetts Democratic Party and Democratic voters have to be kicking themselves now for not going with the inspired candidacy of Alan Khazei over Martha Coakley in the Democratic primary. As the founder and CEO of Be the Change, Inc., a Boston-based group dedicated to building national coalitions of nonprofits and citizens to enact legislation on issues like poverty and education, Khazei has always walked the walk. The national service leader previously co-founded and served as CEO of City Year, a model national youth service program that engages 17- to 24-year-olds in a year of national service in 19 U.S. cities.

City Year, Be the Change, Inc., and other programs like them are the antidote to our dystopia. Brown's victory is not the end of civilization as we know it but it should inspire all Americans - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike - to take a careful look at what they've done in rejecting Hope for No.

Even before the storm clears and I can again see the mountains around the Los Angeles basin, finally lush and green after so many years of drought, I'll be working in my own small way to make this a better city, country, and world. Maybe if we all pulled together things wouldn't look, and often be, so grim. If Brown won't take the oath to "first do no harm," then let's begin this new political reality by finding another Independent or Republican sensible enough to work across the aisle on health care and so many of the other essential matters that will mean a better life for us all.