I went to a Catholic Worker social event Saturday night. Sitting next to me was a man I hadn’t seen before. I asked him where he was from. He said he’d just gotten out of prison, for armed robbery. He’d been in for 10 years, this time. Previously, he’d been in for three years for armed robbery. He told me he grew up in the projects of inner city Chicago. From an early age was involved with gangs. It was one of only a few ways to survive down there, he said. During these years, he’d been shot in the eye and lost his sight in it. He said violence was a way of life and it was unusual for him to go through a day in Chicago “without hearing gunshots.” This time out, he has hooked up with a non-profit group called Companions on the Journey and he wants to start a mentoring program through the organization — to help kids who are in similar situations to what he was in as a youth. Note: During an interview with the Bowling Green News in Ohio during a campaign swing, I said in a “saner world” kids wouldn’t have to dodge hunger, needles and bullets growing up in these urban areas. But the only way to really systemmically shift this, is for some of the people in suburban and small town America to take a deep breath, roll up their sleeves, and move into these urban areas to live side by side with those trapped down there. That simple. That hard.