Prison Safe?

Actor Robert Downey Jr. once said “Prison is actually the safest place on Earth.” in an interview after having done some time there. I remember thinking “Well that’s a strange thing to say.” When someone says something like that it kind of sticks with you. “Why would he say something like that?”,” What does he mean?” I gave it serious thought.

In time I started to realize not one, but multiple potential truths in that statement. I say “potential” because having not “done time” myself, I can only speculate.

The first one is the obvious one. In prison not only is the world safe from the inmates, but the inmates are safe from people in the outside world. One can’t just walk ….. or even break into prison. In fact, even internally the inmates are even pretty safe from each other (depending on the prison). Everyone is in their own individual cell. Isolated, and nothing is coming through those bars. The only potential threat is a prison guard.

The second safety that prison offers is not so obvious, and perhaps not so appreciated (or even realized) until its had. That is, safety from societal influence. No advertisements telling you what to buy. No politicians telling you what to think. No lies. No distraction, no diversion from focusing on self. Of course there are also limited resources for one to have any personal growth anyway ….. so the lack of distraction may be irrelevant.

The third is the safety from being forced to be part of the system. Get up, go to work, buy a house, pay bills. There are very few options away from this pattern in the outside world, and all arrows (influences) point to this lifestyle.

Fourth, safety from the mental trappings created by the above violators. When one is not bogged down by the lies, influences, and grind of living in the outside world, in time they will find their individuality and creativity. The greater possibilities of their growth. If only prison had the resources to pursue that.

I would consider ex prison inmates ripe for a minimalist life in the outside world.

No doubt RDJ gained perspective enough through his time in prison to develop a skill of safeguarding himself from bad external influences. That would definitely help with a drug addiction. 



Oh how we love labeling in today’s culture. We do it constantly. We label for all kinds of reasons. Most of the labels we make are simply for the convenience of giving something a name. Otherwise how are we going to convey “please hand me the hammer” if it is not clear what a “hammer” is.

But what concerns me, is the abundance of labeling we do to justify laziness and/or give a false sense of security. I see it all the time.


Gender labels

Diagnosis labels

Lifestyle labels

Race labels


Lets start by taking the social construct of gender labels. At some point in our history we decided it was not enough that we separate people by their sex, but we needed labels that encompass ALL the character traits that are usually associated with each sex. Once we accounted for these character traits suddenly “male” became “man”, and “female” became “woman.” But what are these traits that caused us to make this jump? Well ….. in general:

MAN: Male. Alpha. Hunter and provider. In modern culture wears lots of dark colors like blue, black, grey, and silver. Very logical, displays very little emotion.

WOMAN: Female. Beta. Gatherer and care giver. In modern culture tends to be more colorful than their man counterpart. Relies on intuition, depends on emotion.

Now most of us don’t fall neatly into either one of those descriptions, but they are more or less the hard societal coded definition of those gender terms. And since there are only two, we associate with the one closest to how we identify. I.E. “I am not very logical, and I have many outward emotions, but I still identify as a man.”

The question is ….. do those character traits still associate with those sexes today? Now surely they don’t associate 100% of the time (not even back when the labels were made), but have we evolved to make this binary social convention completely non-applicable, as too many people are far too deviant from both these definitions? I think so.


There are those conservatives that HOLD to this binary standard, and have it so ingrained in the very base of their character, that they don’t realize it’s a social construct. To them “male” and “man” are the same thing.

Then there are those who are a bit more open. They are interested in non-binary standard with a multitude of gender labels, for the wide variety of character types out there.


I am here to tell you that both of these standards are just strait ridiculous and unnecessary. Mainly because they are both rooted in insecurity. The only reason why gender labeling would even be necessary in the first place is to give some sort of sense of belonging. So each of us can feel like we are part of a group. False security in numbers. Validation.


The conservatives are holding on to a system that no longer applies, and possibly never did. They fear their legacy will lose the identities that they hold on to so dearly.

Many of the “non-binaries” are even more insecure, as they are so insecure in their individuality that they need a new labeling system so they can apply a new label to themselves and have the false security of others joining them under that label. “I need to know there are others out there like me, because I can’t stand on my own.”

How about this:

My name is Anthony Michael Foppiano. I am male, attracted to females, and enjoy wearing lots of colors. I listen to many kinds of music including freestyle dance, Rock, Electronic, Pop, Progressive, and sometimes meditation. I am both logical and extremely emotional (I.E. I lay my flawless logic out, if the party doesn’t get it, or tosses it aside, I FLIP OUT.) I consider myself an Alpha, but let that not suggest I am violent. I detest real life violence (fantasy violence is entertaining), and consider myself a pacifist. I don’t need a gender label to validate me. I require no external validation whatsoever. With all the character traits mentioned above I can stand on my own under the label of the name I already have …… that being Anthony Michael Foppiano.

Now you try …..


INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: The inevitable eventuality of the multi-label path (that the “non-binaries” would have us take) is that there will be too many labels for anyone to keep track of and too few people falling under each label. So they would lose the group validation that they so longed for, and would have to stand secure alone anyway. That label might as well be their name. So the non-binary path will ultimately lead to my way anyway. HA!


Gender is an example of labeling because of security. How about labeling to justify laziness?

Diagnosis labels. Humans are obsessed with labeling to avoid action/responsibility. It’s the reason why we so abundantly use labels like ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and Depression. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these are all legitimate conditions. I just happen to believe also that they are over diagnosed, because of laziness. The doctor is too lazy to custom tailor a treatment, so throwing a patient into a general category is convenient. The patient is too lazy to take responsibility for their condition so they slap a label on it that they can learn to live with.


Lifestyle and Race labels are also great examples of labels created for personal security and lazy reasons. And the arguments are similar to the ones above (so I won’t rehash the same argument).

The only reason why my lifestyle of Minimalism even needs a label, a name, is because if I am going to preach about it, the concept needs a name for me to convey its principals. Remember, I was secure in my philosophy of life long before I knew there was a name for it. Long before I knew others practiced it.

The majority of these labels are just clutter for the mind. Walls raised by the fearful.

Appreciate the Beauty, and the Serenity in your own back yard.

I find more and more, that not matter where people live, they wished they lived someplace else. They say “there is nothing to do here” or “there is nothing to see here.” They want to be in a different city, town, or county. Someplace else far away. I find this attitude no matter where I go. I am sure there are more than a few native residents of Hawaii that say “This place sucks. I gotta get outta here.”

This all stems from human ingratitude. When the wonders around us become commonplace, we lose our appreciation for them because we lose our gratitude. 

Keeping our gratitude is at the heart of maintaining a life of focus, a life of happiness. Never take for granted the beauty and wonder all around us; close to us. There is no greater feeling of joy, than wanting what we already have.


I recently took a leisurely walk around my neighborhood, and noticed lots of beautiful things I would have never noticed and enjoyed had I not been so grateful:

These three pictures were taken mere feet away from my front door.

And these four were taken in a hiking trail a mere hundred or so yards away from home.

I remember as a child thinking that the whole world is as green as the Hudson Valley NY. It wasn’t until I was an adult and more traveled, that I learned that few places in the world are as green as the Hudson Valley. Now my gratitude for my home can not be measured.

I believe every city/town/county has fruits to enjoy and be grateful for. We should all indulge and feel grateful for these fruits in our very own backyard.