You can live in a nice house
in a safe neighborhood
if you make it that way.
It’s not about physical relocation, but spiritual.
This post has been on tap for years. The above saying was meant to be a commonplace of The William Tell Show, but I have held back for various reasons. (1) Some will say white privilege makes me the wrong person to speak to poor people. (2) I’m not sure how big a role equipping folk to “Get on your feet” should play, on the William Tell Show. (3) As recently as six weeks ago, I had my doubts as to whether it’s even feasible. In my current circumstances, I’m compelled to live ways I don’t want to live, having to keep it secret if I give someone a piece of candy, having to abide two men sitting side by side who engage in a normal conversation by shouting.
In the weeks since, following The Way of Peace, I relocated spiritually. I moved farther upward in that column of light described in Edgar Cayce’s dream, where a world of strife and turmoil is at the bottom, and a world of harmony and light is at the top. This entails a changed worldview, in which things that seemed impossible before now seem realistic.
In my blog posts, I normally set forth some story of concrete events first, and then discuss their spiritual ramifications. I will reverse that sequence now, as it is the spiritual disciplines that make the concrete strategies possible.
Keep the focus on you.
Particularly when you first about seeking a better life, it’s essential to keep your attention focused on what you are in fact seeking for yourself and what you personally can do to bring that about. It’s up to you to do this, and to do the work.
The way of the world: particularly if you live in a “bad neighborhood” — What makes it “bad?” — you’re not likely to get any cooperation from friends, neighbors or family members. It’s futile to expect it. Eventually you may influence some folk around you to seek better for themselves also, but at the start, that’s not likely to be.
You can set your own rules for how folk act inside your home. Aside from that, don’t expect anyone to change his or her ways. Keep the focus on you.
Tune out the drama.
The worse your ‘hood, the more drama you face.
It’s what the people there create.
It’s the principal cause of poverty.
You may be surrounded by people who ask, ask, ask for things you can’t afford to give, and resent it when you don’t. They expect you to rescue them from every self-created crisis, and blame you for the crisis if you don’t. They have no regard for anything you’ve worked for; whether or not you can pay your bills is immaterial to them.
There’s the signifying, the back-stabbing, the disrespect and false accusations of disrespect. The threats and realities of bodily harm.
The “community leaders” who get histrionic over things no one can do anything about, and insist you must get histrionic, too.
If you are to take care of yourself, let alone advance, you need to tune it all out. Just say no to getting involved; let it pass right by you.
|I never met a man I didn’t like.|
|— Will Rogers|
I lived in one of Baltimore’s worst neighborhoods for five years, and only got robbed once. As it happens, they only got $14; they didn’t get my I.D., bank card or phone.
Aside from the practical steps I’ll discuss below, my relative safety was and is all about how I carry myself. I have a bright aura; and as I keep practicing The Way of Peace, it gets brighter all the time. I do, in fact, smile almost all the time. On the street, I seek to see the child of God in every person I encounter; I mind my own business; I treat every one with respect, no matter how repulsive her or his appearance or actions may be.
Related: God’s image
If you give respect, you get respect.
Perpetrators shy away from attacking people with bright auras. This is universal among sentient creatures; it’s true in animals also. If you seek in general to live as Jesus taught; to show forth the image of God in yourself, and to see the image of God in each person you meet; as your level of happiness increases; you will shine more and more brightly. You’ll feel that you no longer need to “watch your back” or keep looking over your shoulder, watching out for perpetrators. They’re not coming after you. You no longer need to fear.
Making the neighborhood safe for yourself will ultimately make it safer for others also. By the dynamic that Qabala calls birur nitzotzot, “the brightening of the sparks,” the nitzotz or “divine spark” within yourself can become resonant with others’ “sparks” (nitzotzot), making them brighter also. The brighter folks’ auras in any ‘hood, the fewer will attract predators’ attention to victimize; in fact, the fewer predators there will be.
And it will be safer for everyone.
Related: Practical advantages of being a nice guy
In the house
Cooperate with the owner.
Anything that profits the landlord, profits you, and vice versa.
Decent affordable housing is hard to find for one reason. Responsible landlords have strong disincentives from investing in it, because it overwhelmingly costs too much to have to keep repairing, to be blunt, tenant vandalism.
Related: Housing the homeless ain’t that easy
These costs force owners to raise rents and make it harder to attract good tenants ( = good neighbors).
Invest in the property yourself. Don’t hesitate to invest your own money in making the place nice. The common excuse not to — “I don’t own it.” — is bull hockey. You live there. Make it nice for yourself.
If you break it, fix it.
Don’t let trouble in the door. If someone becomes A Problem outside the house, you can normally leave the situation: just go home. If someone becomes A Problem inside the house, it’s much more difficult to leave: you are home. Control your front door; control who comes in; and do not, under any circumstances, let trouble in the door.
If you have a baby daddy who routinely is A Problem, don’t let him in the house. When he comes to pick up the child, have him wait outside the (locked) door while you go get the child and bring it to him. Likewise, when he drops off the child, he does this outside; rain or shine, the door does not open until after he is gone.
Marqua Wilson let trouble in the door:
Slain mother of 8 was ‘shining light,’ father says
I can’t count the mistakes this person made.
This man fathered one of her eight kids. She had already got a protective order against him, and he violated it in an incident involving stabbing her with a barbecue fork. Thirteen months later, he shows up with money and reefer. She lets him in and lets him spend the night, presumably in her bed.
Oh, and he’s got a gun.
Now she’s dead, and eight children have no mother.
Point 1: Don’t make babies outside marriage. If you don’t want the child enough to get married, you don’t want the child enough.
Point 2: She let trouble in the door. Literally.
Don’t open your door to trouble.
Don’t let trouble in the door.
On the street
Plan your comings and goings. Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time; don’t go there. Last week’s post goes into this in some detail.
Don’t hack; don’t use hacks. Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, it’s a great way to get robbed. In general, just OBEY THE LAW. This isn’t rocket science. Criminality of any kind is like to risk your safety.
Cash handling. All my adult life, no matter where I lived: (1) I never carry any more cash than I mean to spend on that one trip; (2) I never withdraw more than $40 at a time from the ATM. This way: (A) When people ask me for money, I can honestly and nicely tell them no; (B) if I am robbed, the thieves won’t get much, and I won’t lose much.
People who’ve lived in the ‘hood their whole lives sometimes do really foolish things in this regard. When I was a cashier at the dollar store — in the ghetto — now and then a little old lady would come to the cash register and pull out this huge wad of cash. Terrified, I’d look around to see if any likely predator had seen.
A little old lady will go to the ATM and withdraw her entire check. For her safety’s sake, this is not wise.
Bling does nothing but attract thieves. Rather than wear stuff that just shows people they can rob me, I’d put my money into things that empower me to make more: college or trade school courses, or tools to use in my skilled trade. No one can rob you of your education.
Housemate Nehemiah came home one day with a new crucifix pendant. It was 3 inches high, solid platinum, studded with diamonds. He had made some new acquaintance, and the two of them wandered into a jewelry store, and the guy flat out GAVE him this thing. $50,000.
Had it been me, that object would have stayed in my room.
To my alarm, he wore it around the house and talked about it around the house. He wore it around the ‘hood, and talked about it around the ‘hood.
Until this guy merely snatched it off his neck.