Main Page, My Experiences

Fitting Into Society

When I was little, I had a toy with a wooden plank shaped like my sketch above. It had a square-shape, a circle-shape, and a star-shape that fit into the board.

Societies give us limited options for fitting in, and they don’t always match the shape of what we are.

I had a conversation that made me think about this, recently.

Fierce eyes attracted mine as I walked to a bus stop, and I stopped to talk with the woman they beamed from.

We ended up sitting by water, where she correctly identified the sound of raccoons chittering in the underbrush, and pointed out a massive heron bathing on the other side of the sparkling lake.

I laid out boxes of fresh raspberries and plump blueberries from Pike’s Place, and we drank probiotic grape juice together.

Sharing this lightest and healthiest of meals, we talked about pain and trauma and the heaviest things. This included why I no longer live indoors.

When I handed her a box of raisins to feed the raccoons, she muttered “raison d’être” under her breath, and I felt a tingle up the back of my neck. I probably felt the tingle because I’m sapiosexual, but also because of the subjects we discussed.

Do you exist for the purpose of fitting into society? What purpose does society ask you to serve, to justify your existence?

I noticed that in the city, any time I was more than a few feet away from this woman, men swarmed her like flies on a piece of fruit. She’s shaped lean and long in that traditional fashion-model mold I’d have found a little boring if not for the fierce eyes.

Society has a place for this shape – she can be an “object” and get paid for it. Society could take pictures and use the photographs to sell expensive makeup at the mall.

Based on her brilliance, I doubt she’d find that fulfilling. She had other ideas about how to fit in.

She and I agreed that I’d “given up on society.”

However, after thinking about this and getting the chance to write about it, I want to make a finer point:

I love humanity. I’m human and this asks me to be social to feel alive. I love life.

I do everything I can to affirm living with each of my days. I try, despite my mind’s notions of good and bad, to affirm our humanity in its wholeness.

All I’ve given up on is trying to fit in. Or wearing a suit and pretending to fit in. Or shaming myself for the fact that I don’t.

I don’t fit into a society that mistakes systems of economy and systems of politics, or any other manmade ideas, for reality.

Human ideologies and systems are useful, and make-believe ideas such as “money” can help us organize efforts and resources together.

But “money” is human make-believe, and human beings did not create the planet or its resources. Our ideas about how to manage the planet and ourselves, exist only in our minds.

What I have given up on, is trying to “fit into” societies that confuse make-believe manmade systems for reality.

That toy I had as a kid came with a mallet to help you tap the shapes into the board. I could beat on one shape and cram it into the square, but I’m done with that now.

I invite you to be whatever shape you are, and quit beating yourself on the head if you’re not fitting in.

Compassionate Theory of Everything, Main Page, My Experiences

An Ecology of Philosophies

Years ago I went to a meeting to practice public speaking. A new guy stepped softly to the podium and looked out at us. His eyes twinkled with a fierce white light from behind folded curtains of age.

He began a story of Musical Spiders:

“Spiders weave their webs, producing droplets of sticky goo and dripping it along the silk lines as they go. Once the individual threads are woven together, their overall pattern is finished with music…

The web is tuned.

Reaching out with the tip of one leg, the spider plucks a string – Ting! The masterpiece is complete once the frequencies are properly arranged. The web’s resonance helps the sticky goo to distribute evenly, and the spider’s ability to survive is enhanced by playing the right notes.”

I talked to Bob after everyone left. He’d spent decades in the woods as an ecologist and edited the writings of 500 scientists. When I asked questions, his eyes lit up in a way I’d only seen in one person before, on TV.

A sparkling fascination lay behind those eyes, too bright to originate or end in one man.

I felt like Bill Moyers.

Over the course of the next few months, we met in coffee shops or near his retirement home. We spoke of animals and people and the numinous wonder of interrelating biology. He edited papers I’d written, bringing focus and precision to my stories about truth.

Every pattern of biology and environment was a parable to him, one we can use to learn about ourselves.

Bob was 82. At times, a haze of confusion would drift over him, and a quick flash of embarrassment would accompany its clearing. But a single question could bring him back to shining focus. He’d return with bubbly eloquence and eyes bright like sunlight on a river.

His observations were brimming with mythic significance. They perfectly echoed the wholesome kinship and woven connection of “man with world” found in native cultures.

Bob had never heard of Joseph Campbell. I was shocked.

He seemed to have discovered the same lessons by studying animals and writing research papers that Campbell found by reading lines between the cultures of man.

Salmon and owls had told Bob their stories without symbols, and he had avoided views outside those of science. In fact, the philosophical implications of his research had troubled him as they seemed to drag him reluctantly toward spiritual perspectives.

Only recently in life had he dared to consciously examine relationships between the meaning he experienced in his work, and the Catholicism he had been raised to believe.

One day I went to visit him, and was told he was “unavailable” by the staff. I left one voicemail and another. After weeks with no response, I feared he was gone.

A family member of Bob’s contacted me. They thanked me for reaching out, and let me know that he was physically okay, but no longer mentally “present” enough to communicate.

Did that mean he was “gone”? I’ve wondered what it would mean in Bob’s life-philosophy.

His stories helped me see interrelationships of biology and beliefs and people, where all parts of a system affect one another. Life requires no conscious human decision to blossom and swell in this world, yet its flow may be directed by our choices. What we are as human beings may just as easily thrive though collaboration as survive through competition. Animals show us we have, quite literally, a world of options.

Bob’s life taught me this. Maybe I didn’t have to fear he was “gone.”

Whatever may have happened to Bob’s physical or mental existence, his experience of being alive has affected my own, by directing the way my ideas interrelate within an ecology of philosophies.

My Experiences

A Morning Gift

While I sat on the steps a man descended toward me. His clothes and face were obsidian-streaked. He looked like he’d just come down a chimney.

He approached me and met my gaze. He looked upset, so I stood and said hello.

“Shersh,” he said.

I raised my eyebrows and he continued. Word-like sounds formed sentencey strings, and I allowed eye-contact.

He continued to speak. It did occur to me that I had other things I could be doing which would make more sense to me. But as I returned my attention to his eyes, his tone mellowed.

His sounds, which reminded me of the Swedish Chef more than a little at first, coalesced into a pattern.

They found punctuation. It arranged itself into calm and assured periods.

Each line finished with a similar sound to the end of the previous one. He was rhyming, and I began to enjoy the cadence.

After about a minute and a half, he concluded with a sound both wistful and assured.

He then offered me his hand, which I shook. He exhaled and with a small smile and a nod, went on his way.

I really have no idea whether I was given a recital in a Nordic language I do not myself speak, or whether his tongue was working outside the confines of the 7,000 or so languages more than one human speaks.

Either way,

I’m certain I was gifted poetry this morning.

Compassionate Theory of Everything, My Experiences

Here is the Cure For Racism

A question was kicked into my head by people chanting racial slurs: “What makes people divide into groups and believe one is superior?”

The question followed me throughout life. Although my question came from pain, the answers I found in ghettos and waterfronts hold beautiful possibilities for a world where all forms of diversity are welcomed.

After talking with tens of thousands of people, I have the answer to “why” people often hate others. I know “how” humans cut themselves off from other races and groups. I know how we can reverse the process.

The cure for racism is a bitter pill to swallow.

Its bitterness would explain why this disease has historically run rampant in segregation and apartheid, back to times it sickened us with tribal warfare against “those devils across the river.” There are evolutionary patterns in our development as a species that explain why this disease infected the ideas of our forefathers, and continues to plague societies today.

The cure for racism must be taken internally. It requires an individual to learn a bitter fact about humanity.

The bitter fact is this: racist beliefs are only the fruit of racism, not its seed.

When people show prejudice by chanting hate in the streets, their ideologies are only the festering, rotten fruit of racism. The seeds of this fruit lie much deeper within humanity itself.

After studying pre-verbal infants, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom concludes:

“A bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences.”

For racism to be cured, this bias must be recognized as part of each and every human being on earth, including ourselves.

No matter our egalitarian thoughts, our own status or gender or color, we all share the possibility for the altruistic best and divisive worst in humanity to grow from this seed of bias.

The cure for racism is the recognition that self-bias is not only within “them,” those laden with divisive and hateful ideological fruit, but this seed is carried within “us” as well.

This recognition is a bitter pill to swallow, yet once cured we find ourselves free of many forms of judgment. We’re able to welcome people who are different in many ways.

When we take this cure, the “self” does not disappear. It expands. It broadens as we recognize our kinship with the whole of humanity, and find that beneath appearances and beliefs so much is shared. 3,500 generations ago in Africa, a Mitochondrial Eve gave birth to us all. This expanded self, our related family, is found everywhere on the planet within each human being.

The cure for racism is awareness of a bitter seed of self-bias within us all, yet one that bears the sweetest of fruit when “self” is allowed to grow beyond boundaries.

Finding this seed within all people allows us to cure the disease of racism and cultivate compassion that nurtures the world.

My Experiences

Dawn of Black Friday – A True Short Story (4 min.)

dark wave approaching city

Long ago, in a land full of televisions and shopping carts, the natives of the retail village huddled close and stared at each other. The fluorescent lights turned the whites of their eyes blue. Outside, it was dark.

It was 4:55am.

They were gathered in a cathedral of consumerism, a football-field’s distance from the great sliding doors at the front. Its walls were filled with computers and washers and dryers and most things that could plug into a wall.

A group of natives, inhabitants of the stereo and camera realm, had gathered near the back of the store in front of the televisions. A silence spread among them and washed across acres of real marble floor. They straightened their ties.

“First time?” asked a man with a stooped white dress shirt and a collar the color of eggs. He leered at the circle of faces around him, each one round and flat and bloodlessly half-awake. The granite crags of his cheeks formed a wicked smile. His eyes were a cave of ancient sorrow.

The floor began to rumble.

“It’s an earthquake!” a young man broke from the group and dove into the flickering darkness of television displays.

As the marble beneath their feet began to throb, panic spread. Some hid behind towering stacks of subwoofer boxes.

Many of the young men unconsciously formed ranks, joining their shoulders and forcing their feet flat into the smooth glossy stone.

The hand of the camera-girl shot to the arm of the camera-boy beside her.

The camera manager stepped in front of a large metal cage. This cage was where DSLRs and slimline waterproofs were imprisoned side-by-side. His young manager’s face showed the determination of a hard grape, sour and smooth and small and unready. He stood in front of the display’s central cell door, arms skewed straight and anxious. One miniscule fist attempted to spare a finger from its grip, to caress a large bundle of keys.

The floor continued to pulse, the thrum of its oscillations growing. A sound, deep and vast as the ocean, emanated from the distance. All faces turned toward the source of the burgeoning thunder. All eyes looked down the football-field of marble toward the front of the store.

“It’s five…” came a whisper from somewhere.

The thunder became a roar. The floor moved left and right, exactly the way a floor should never move. A young man broke rank and ran broadside for the breakroom.

The roaring sound grew. It filled the skull and took everything. It was thunder and shriek, from a baritone growl of thousands of feet pounding stone, to an undifferentiated cacophony of screams and the exploding rattle of shopping carts shredding marble. The sound shook the soul and pierced the mind. Another pair of slacks went sprinting in retreat.

As the source of the sound became visible, eyes widened in awe and terror. Two more ran for the rear exit near the loading dock. The whiteout sleeves of their flailing fresh shirts faded grey and charcoal into the dark.

The remaining natives who held their ground, stood shocked and staring and helpless in the path of the roiling chaos. The tidal wave was coming.

Crimson sleeves and navy winter coats formed kaleidoscopic frenzy at the top of the wave as the colors whirled and shot. Grabbing hands poked out of its crest and tumbled forward. Feet poured in all directions and stomped at the base of the hungry rolling wall. The wave devoured displays. Engulfed endcaps. Steel carts skittered out from it and filled and flipped as the wave crashed into them.

Thousands of mouths shrieked in desperate hunger. The eyes flashed! So many eyes howling for shrinkwrapped sustenance!

When the wave hit them, many of the natives were swept away like styrofoam peanuts. Some were caught beneath it. The camera manager was crushed against the steel cage, and had to go to the doctor.

The location did over a million dollars in revenue that day.

To our fallen brothers, I dedicate this memory. To the men and women who continue to sacrifice their life’s breath for a livelihood, as a nation worships at the altar of a Gross and disfigured Domestic Product, I dedicate these words.

May this hunger we know feeds our economy, somehow evolve into a hunger that feeds our humanity.

My Experiences

Why I Practice Compassion and Self-Compassion

meriden chris candid 1920

When I was 12, I watched my 285-pound, 6’4″ father begin to sag and crumble like a rotting pumpkin. It took him 6 years to die.

It gave me plenty of time to wonder about what was eating him up inside.

I’m well aware of how difficult a practice of compassion can be. I may have a sort of intimacy with the things that make it hard. I have seen the opposite of compassion, and felt it within myself.

It might be “okay” for people to be wrong. Most of us can allow that.

But what about when they’re so wrong they’re dangerous? When their beliefs about the world put your family’s future in jeopardy?

When “they” are so wrong that they’re dangerous, we tend to cut off from people. We constrict. Anger and contempt feel entirely justifiable. Necessary, even.

Yet I have seen how they may sicken a person.

In the very marrow of his being, outrage ate my father up.

Quite literally, in his case.

He was a rational man, with a depth of understanding about how the world worked. He could fix most anything in a car or house. He could even make tools to affect the physical world.

The one time I remember him teaching me something without yelling, he brought me down to his workshop late at night and made an electromagnet by wrapping wire around a screwdriver. You could pick up a paperclip and drop it by disconnecting a 9-volt battery.

But he was a midwest firefighter with no tools for empathy. He feared the emotional world within himself, and had not learned that his beliefs might be based on his unique experiences.

His ideas of truth could only crush other beliefs or be trampled by them. He felt contempt for “those people,” the people whose wrong and stupid beliefs posed a threat to what was good and true.

To me, his bone cancer was more than a metaphor of “a terrible thing growing inside him and eating him up.”

Regardless of how his life ended, the struggle he fought did not require him to be “angry at God,” or angry at people. He just thought it did.

He often said: “I like people as they are not.”

He knew enough of himself to be honest about that.

He did not know he had a chance to value human beings without liking their worldviews. This lack of compassion brought him suffering for decades before he was sick.

I seek to discover what I can value in everyone, because it brings less suffering into the world, especially inside me.


Compassionate Theory of Everything, My Experiences

Dung beetles and compassion

guano mountain

I was watching the “Caves” episode of “Planet Earth.” It showed a mountain of bat guano 300-ft high, with thousands of shiny beetles roiling across its surface.

I felt something nasty in my stomach. When I examined the thought that went with the feeling, it was along the lines of: “These are terrible creatures.”

I asked myself, “Is this feeling of constriction… familiar?”

It was. Disgust. Contempt.

“Contempt? Am I somehow making a moral judgement… against insects?”

Though the idea was absurd… I stayed on the lookout for that feeling. I noticed a similar sensation when watching the news.

I get the same feeling about CEOs sometimes.

Was it less absurd to think of them as “terrible creatures”?

I don’t like the feeling I get when I see people ignore harm to feed on profit.

I also don’t like the idea of feeding on feces.

But I don’t need to see living beings as “terrible creatures.”

If I’m aware that I don’t like how they gather resources, and I’m honest with myself that I’d never do things the same way, I’m less tempted to deny the value of their existence.

I can see the greediest corporate “monster,” as also a human being doing the best they can for the people they care about.

Regardless of the feeling in my gut.


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Compassionate Theory of Everything, My Experiences

She just dropped trou and whipped it out

I lived in Seattle for a couple of years, across the street from where 3-million dollar condos hovered over the water.

mad park

Because I have never felt myself to be a part of any specific group of people, cultures have always fascinated me. Japanese people and American people and sports-fans strike me as curious and exotic.

In Seattle I wondered:

What is normal in this upper-class Northwest American culture? Are my neighbors happy?

To a middle-class way of thinking, the assumption is “yes, of course THOSE RICH PEOPLE must be happy.” Just look at those tennis shoes. They’re as white as Greek houses.

Think about what it would be like to walk a mile in those brand-new shoes, knowing you didn’t have to walk at all. Hell, take an UberLUX, and toss the dusty-soled shoes in the trash when you get home. When you never have to work another day in your life, isn’t it an awesome feeling to wake up in the morning and know you can do whatever you want?

I am the type of person who will actually sit on a park bench and ask someone that sort of question.

If you try communicating with the “leisure class,” you might get a hazy smile as their head pivots slowly in your direction. I began to notice a pattern, and time after time I’d wait about five seconds after saying “hi,” and watch to see if their eyelids could do the heavy-lifting.

Lots of rich people are on drugs.

By the sparkling waters of Lake Washington, I did absorb some profound lessons on life through conversation with the wealthy. Many were erudite, full of the intricate and plodding whimsy of the heavily medicated. Often these observations were offered just after benzo-naptime and before oxycontin-naptime.

It might be awesome to dream of waking up rich one day. But a lot of actual rich people don’t spend their day being very awake.

Like any make-believe group of human beings we can label, it turns out that THOSE RICH PEOPLE are still human, and they have their own problems going on.

I once met a woman who woke up in a hospital unable to remember the previous seven years. She hadn’t even exceeded her prescription dosage of tranquility.

Recently, I’ve been waking up in a Midwest manufacturing town. This is a blue-collar place that has been turning into a low-income place. The modern problem faced by American manufacturing towns isn’t about demand-for-US-made goods or even Mexicans. The problem is that less and less manufacturing is done by human beings. Not only did the jobs move away – they don’t exist anymore.

When people stopped making six-cylinder engines for Chryslers down the street, it was robots that started making them somewhere else.

What was once a bustling factory with thousands of callous-hardened hands cranking out engines, is now a sort of post-apocalyptic concrete wasteland surrounded by taverns.

former Chrysler plant

Us low-income folks have our own problems to deal with. There are cultural issues that are often seen along with fundamental shifts in an economy. Low-income does not mean “criminal,” yet the two are often seen holding hands.

While running a rooming house in a ghetto, I thought about this a lot.

winter manager uniform

The leather jacket and beard were uncomfortable to wear, but it was more comfortable to intimidate crackheads than physically remove them from the premises. I always thought beards were stupid, but it was a vital part of a “Ghetto Rooming House Manger” uniform.

One day, some local gunshots still echoing in my mind, I walked over to a neighbor’s house. I was thinking along the lines of creating an informal sort of “Neighborhood Watch” thing.

I believe that people are what make up a neighborhood, and having little-income does not necessitate theft and violence. Correlation is not causation.

As I got to my neighbor’s steps, a lady walking up the sidewalk made a beeline for the yard.

When she got onto the grass, she said “Hi” to me and pulled down her pants.

In the time that it took me to process what she might be doing, I caught a glimpse of something not quite like the end of an elephant’s trunk. She urinated on the lawn.

My neighbor came out on the porch and yelled a friendly “Hello” to both of us. Her friend pulled up her pants and climbed the porch.



I wondered:

What is “normal” for my new socioeconomic class, the poverty-class?

Just a couple of days before, a lady strolled past my porch in a heroin haze, having forgotten to fasten the front of her slacks. It occurred to me that this was the second set of floppy labia I’d seen that week.

That would never have happened by the lake in Seattle. Those ladies might nod off, but they kept their pants zipped up.

Some fundamental agreements, such as “we won’t pee on the lawn,” had not been reached by this culture. I didn’t like that.

I must have picked up some “American cultural norms” despite myself.

What about stealing? What about violence?

Were my neighbors happy?


My Experiences

House of Insignificant People – Part 1

Parole Officers called it “The Nicest Rooming House in Town”

A sex offender stole my chicken. That chicken was the only protein I owned. My tenants told me they saw the small man cramming bags of meat in his mouth.

I had kicked him out of the building before.

He looked like a tiny wolfman. I imagined my tenants watching shreds of chicken tumbling off his wrap-around beard and the connected bushy eyebrows. Why was he in the rooming house I managed, crouched on the floor of the empty room upstairs?

A rooming house is like an apartment with shared bathrooms and kitchen. If a “New York penthouse” sits at the top of the American social ladder while fulfilling the need for “shelter,” the rooming house is the very bottom rung. It’s the one homeless people are grasping at and slipping off of. It’s for people who can’t afford first and last and deposit.

A big part of my job was using my “sense of people” to figure out who to let in. I got to choose what kind of criminals would share our home. Screening applicants through personal conversations was important, because folks who ask to live in a ghetto don’t look good on paper. I never once ran a background check that came back without criminal convictions.

The man who had been seen eating my chicken had passed neither my conversational screening nor the background check. I had many reasons for not allowing him in the house, but poverty was not one of them.

Being at the socioeconomic “top” of America does not guarantee that person is a good person. Modern America illustrates this quite clearly.

If people don’t have money, it doesn’t necessarily mean there‘s something wrong with them. A large part of America really needs to learn this correlation does not mean causation.

Being poor doesn’t mean there’s something wrong you. But usually there is.

There was certainly something wrong with me. Before becoming manager, I’d used a room for mourning loss and drinking seven hundred beers.

I had some money from working construction, and I isolated myself in behind a locked door. The gig had given me time to think about what happened in the previous months. Images of her would flash through my mind. When it was occupied with nothing more than cutting steel or swinging a sledgehammer, her pain and my loss filled my mind.

I had watched her beat cancer. She did not beat her childhood trauma.

I’d wake up in the rooming house room, and notice I was still conscious late in the day. That required another beer run. When returning from a second trip to the store one evening, the owner of the rooming house asked me to have a seat in the kitchen.

My first sixteen drinks could have gone either way. But on that day, they had brought convivial good cheer.

So I sat down at a wide countertop that filled the room as it erupted from the center of the floor.

She asked me how I had ended up in her rooming house. She was open and honest. I was drunk. The conversation quickly deepened because of these things.

For a few years, I had been sober. I started there. A business I had created, and the mind of a person I loved, had thrived for awhile and I had cherished them. Consciously, I made the choice to be alive years previously, and it was easy to continue making that choice when it brought gifts.

When I lost what I loved, I headed back to the Midwest with nothing but a backpack and my sobriety. The hard feeling of pavement distracted me from feeling much else, for awhile.

Cooking donated food in a commercial kitchen for rows of men and women, and sleeping on the floors of churches alongside them, made me feel a part of something. I had not felt that before. That was an unexpected gift.

While cutting steel for twelve hours before collapsing in a trailer parked somewhere in Minnesota, I lost the feeling of gifts. I lost the sense of meaning and purpose. Days were spent swinging a sledgehammer and knocking down a piece of a strip mall, then sawing and drilling a new store in its place. In my belief system, the world would derive little benefit from long stripmalls.

Nights were spent in a box at the end of a trailer. One of the other guys on the crew was also an alcoholic, except he wasn’t “struggling” like he explained I was. The smell of booze from the coffin below me woke up a part of my brain that had tried killing me many times before.

When I rode back to the Chicago suburb locals called “Kenowhere” with a pocket full of hundred dollar bills, I got my own room and alcohol.

I looked at the owner of the rooming house, over my folded hands. She sat across the kitchen table, eyes large and calm. I admitted to her that my rent money was running out.

Compassionate Theory of Everything, My Experiences

Armpits of America

Adams Street House

There are good reasons that we associate things, even if we’re often wrong about how they relate.

Being sweaty isn’t the same as having BO. People just think the two have to go together.

Funky-smelling bacteria grow in warm areas with water. Armpits are half-sealed pockets of skin that sweat while being cut off from the flow of air. So they stay warm and damp. Sweat doesn’t smell – but it is wet. Armpits stay sweaty and warm, so they’re a great environment for stinky bacteria to grow. They’re full of benign sweat. And also stinky bacteria.

Being poor isn’t the same as being larcenous and quick to violence. A lot of people believe that poor people are what make ghettos dangerous.

I know why people believe that.

When I wanted a piece of gum as a kid, I’d walk down to the corner store. A single piece of Dubble Bubble cost a penny, back when Stegasaurus-sized boomboxes roamed the sidewalk. Every time, I’d leave the house with a penny in the pocket of my shorts. About half the time, I came back with bloody knees instead of gum. Sometimes, they got the penny. Sometimes they got me as I was unwrapping the gum. Even the 11-year-olds around Brookside Park seemed larcenous and prone to violence.

Those two blocks between my house and the corner store have a higher percentage of children living in poverty than 99% of the United States. There was no question about whether those violent kids were also poor.

It isn’t the poverty though, it’s the misery.

Violence grows in areas where people are miserable. Ghettos are neighborhoods full of people who are half-sealed off from jobs and education and role-models. They are culturally cut off from real-life examples of people who make their way through life without beating on each other or selling drugs. Ghettos are cut off from the rest of the economy, but television signals make it through just fine. So ghettos stay full of people who don’t own much, yet believe they’re supposed to.

People without many posessions aren’t necessarily bad people, but they often become miserable when they feel shame for being poor. They do not own the Cadillacs and iPhones that all Americans are supposed to own, so they feel miserable about life. Ghettos stay full of this misery and shame, so they’re a great environment for violence and theft to grow in. They’re full of poor people. And also crime.

A ghetto doesn’t have to be a shithole. It just usually is.