Ever travel through Lehigh Valley's slums? Don't kid yourself. We have pockets of poverty everywhere. I pass through one on my way to Easton's courthouse. If I'm on a bike, it's up close and personal.
But for a young kid, life in a slum may be no worse than in the gentrified Riverport. Yesterday, I saw a young boy running down a street near Easton's courthouse with a Halloween mask covering his face. No costume. Just a simple pumpkin mask. He was having the time of his life. He didn't know he was poor. His spirit hasn't been crushed. When he took off his mask, he had the most beautiful smile, one that warms the heart. But how long will that last? I notice the smile decreases as the age increases. The older kids don't smile.
Lehigh Valley slums claimed another life last week, a young man in Allentown who shot a cop and then blew his brains out. He was once a young boy, and perhaps he once had a great smile, too.
"The children of the Ghetto possess all the qualities which make for noble manhood and womanhood; but the Ghetto itself, like an infuriated tigress turning on its young, turns upon and destroys all these qualities, blots out the light and laughter, and moulds those it does not kill into sodden and forlorn creatures, uncouth, degraded and wretched below the beasts of the field ... In such conditions, the outlook for children is hopeless. They die like flies and those that survive, survive because they possess excessive vitality and a capacity of adaptation to the degradation with which they are surrounded."
Jack London's words are as true today as they were in the early 1900's.