Saturday, April 30, 2005

Being liked by others

"If you truly expect to realize your dreams, abandon the need to be liked by all."
- Anonymous

It's important to be liked by others. However, it may actually be unhealthy to seek to be liked by everyone.

In an atmosphere of complete harmony, there would be no disagreement, no thought about different options or ways of doing things, no debate that allows the weighing of various positions, no reason to seek to improve, no reason to prepare for conflict that is inevitable in a competitive world, no reason to make ourselves better than those who went before us. That would be a state of stagnation.

Most importantly, those who want to be liked by everyone inevitably fail, and feel like failures, often resulting in psychological problems.

We need to teach children not that being liked by everyone is necessary, but how to compete in a social environment where some will be friends and allies, while others will be the competition or enemies. We need to teach them how to make friends, how to identify competitors and enemies and how to behave toward each in a socially acceptable manner.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems

Friday, April 29, 2005

Intelligence and thinking ability

Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of the car is separate from the way the car is driven.
- Edward De Bono, consultant, writer, and speaker (1933- )

It's is also true that many people of average intelligence are stupid and many highly intelligent people are anti-social.

What is the difference between someone who can think and someone who cannot? A desire to learn and a will to think (practice), plus the courage to risk thinking thoughts that others have not.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems

Thursday, April 28, 2005

War creates evil men

Often war is waged only in order to show valor; thus an inner dignity isascribed to war itself, and even some philosophers have praised it as anennoblement of humanity, forgetting the pronouncement of the Greek whosaid, "War is an evil in as much as it produces more wicked men than ittakes away."
- Immanuel Kant, philosopher (1724-1804)

If you were facing surgery with the odds of success that war has of achieving its goals, you would eschew the surgery and opt for prayer.

The wisdom of the ages tells us that no one wins in war, but Kant takes a different approach to it. War, he says, assists those who are inclined toward evil to embrace it. In war, the normal, acceptable and accepted rules of behaviour are cast aside. What is treasonous and criminal in peacetime may be justified in war on the basis that it is for the good of the country and the people.

No war in the past 500 years has been for the good of the people.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems
Join the TIA group at

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Worry versus anxiety

What follows is my opinion and is not necessarily shared by any othersocial science specialists. It relates more to psychology and medicine than to sociology, my specialty. However, it results from my studies of these subjects at a community level.

Worry and anxiety are two terms that find their way frequently into modern discussions, self-help books, medical consultations and popular literature. It might be valuable to define what these terms mean so that those discussing them or thinking about them will be on common ground with others.

In general, we worry about someone else and we have anxiety about ourselves. Exceptions abound, but this is a good place to begin.

Worry is a state of mind that might occupy our thoughts and dominate how we see life and act toward others. Anxiety is a whole-body state, where adrenaline (epinephrin) and other harmful chemicals surge through the bloodstream, resulting in contracted muscles, aching nerves and a heightened belief that something tragic is imminent.

Both worry and anxiety can be controlled, with practice.

With worry, we can persuade ourselves that the person we are worrying about will be well and safe, or that the financial difficulties will sort themselves out, or that we will find another job, or that our relationship with another person will improve or we will find another person to replace one that is no longer in our lives. It's a matterof what we believe will happen, rather than concerning ourselves withwhat might but will likely not happen.

Anxiety is harder to control because it involves the collapse of logic, a feeling of desperation or hopelessness, and because regaining control of the functions of the whole body takes longer.

Anxiety takes it toll on the immune system, which is what keeps disease from taking hold and our cells from mutating.

Worry can be stopped simply by refusing to think negatively about the subject. With anxiety, we must control the systems that produce the chemicals that have taken over our body, then wait for the chemicals to flush themselves out.

Many people believe that the easiest way to get rid of anxiety is to take drugs, prescribed legal drugs or illegal ones. The results of this form of medication are the same for everyone--there may be some temporary relief from the anxiety, but more problems are created in the process.

Many people in high stress jobs find relief from their stress by running. Runners get a "runner's high", a blast of endorphins that makes them feel good and at peace with themselves and the world. The same release of calming chemicals through the body can take place with exertion, such as by weight lifting or other forms of active execise. This relief from stress is the same process that we need to employ to relieve ourselves from anxiety. In other words, work is the best medicine, so long as we are working our bodies, not our minds.

Getting control of anxiety within us requires a great deal of self control. There is nothing easy about it. But it can be done if we only give ourselves one choice, the choice to end the anxiety.

As with worry, to relieve anxiety we must believe what we decide in our minds or the problem will not go away.

Both worry and anxiety require a great deal of energy, so a person suffering from either may be tired much of the time.

A person with either may not make sense and may not make wise decisions, so encouraging that person to avoid making life-altering decisions is necessary at that time.

As with addictions, both worry and anxiety return when the conditions that created them at first return. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous consider themselves to be lifetime alcoholics. A worrier or someonewho suffers from anxiety must also be prepared to face these down at any time.

Giving in to them is harmful. Given what they do to the immune system, giving in to worry or anxiety (worry may turn into anxiety) could be a slow form of torture, even suicide.

Watch for the warning signs. Anyone who is not acting as they usually do is giving you a sign.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Thinking: use it or lose it

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
- John Kenneth Galbraith

The conventional view means protecting those in power. It means not having to learn anything new. It means not having to weigh options or listen to others who may have provoking thoughts.

Thinking is difficult for some adults. They may not have done any serious thinking since their teen years, or at least since the end of their years of formal education.

As with other factors of the human body, thinking adheres to the rule to use it or lose it.

Chances are that some people you know have lost their ability to think; they are walking, talking puppets of the conventional view.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Newt Gingrich is a fool

US conservative Republicans have a grand old time with their prejudices, don't they? They never allow their ignorance to get in the way of an opinion on any given subject.

Former Republican Speaker in the US House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, is a prime example. Speaking Tuesday evening on the Fox News political show Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich said: "Far more of the 9/11 terrorists came across from Canada than from Mexico."

Mr. Gingrich apparently knows nothing about the subject. No fewer than two studies of the perpetrators involved in the 9/11 tragedies, by esteemed US researchers, concluded that not even one of the terrorists came from either Canada or Mexico.

Following a letter from the Canadian ambassador to the US, Frank McKenna, to Mr. Gingrich to clarify this point, Mr. Gingrich issued an apology. To Mr. McKenna, not to the television audience.

Gingrich perpetrated the very myth he apologised for in his letter to McKenna by stating the lie on the television program but making no allowances for reaching the same audience with his apology.

The letter read, in part, "Please accept my apology to the Canadian people for perpetuating the error; one I am sure that has been very painful to them. He told the ambassador he "deeply regrets" what has become a "widespread inaccuracy."

Yeah, right!

In Canada, we imprison people for telling lies of that magnitude and that insult people so strongly.

American citizens may wonder why the rest of the world hates them--they don't, just the bad ones. Newt Gingrich is one reason. If you want to know other reasons, watch FOX News Network for a while.

Bill Allin
'Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems'

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Canadians: In Search of Identity

Canadians: In Search of Identity

The French and the English have always fought. Usually they fought against each other; more recently, such as in the world wars, they fought side by side.

North America was at one time held primarily by Spain and France. I say primarily because these powerful countries managed to decimate the native peoples that had lived in North America for thousands of years, either by weapons or by disease, and claim major portions of the continents for themselves.

In the 17th century, England was a rising power in the world. It held some sway in relatively unimportant parts of North America by virtue of having made discovery voyages since the early days and establishing colonies in some of the less convenient areas of the continent.

As the powers of France and Spain were weakening in the latter part of the 18th century, England managed to wrest control of most of North America by virtue of the fact that France and Spain almost abandoned their colonies. When British General Wolfe defeated French General Montcalm in what is now Quebec City, the struggle for control was over.

English businessmen found Montreal, in the French part of the country, a fine place from which to conduct their affairs. Once the dust had settled, French businessmen also secured their positions in the economic affairs of what would become Canada by working side by side with the English.

In the case of war, losers never forget. And winners seldom give losers the opportunity to forget. Canada’s French, more than anything else, wanted to keep their language, their culture and their religion. They wanted the English to leave them alone in those matters, no matter what they did with government. Even though the French had lost, they and their descendants wanted respect from the English.

The English, however, were not big on respecting losers. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, new Canadian provinces passed laws variously forbidding the teaching of French (or any language other than English), forbidding the teaching of any religion that was not Protestant Christian and they displaced French and Metis (mixed-blood French and Indian, dating from the pre-pioneer days of fur trading) people from the frontier territories in Canada’s west.

For the English, there was to be no doubt about who was in control: the English. For the French, there was no doubt about who was being oppressed and whose culture and language were being eliminated. Schools in most of Canada taught British history (Canadian history receiving no recognition), while in Quebec the schools taught the history of the French in Canada.

A few major events shaped and molded Canadians into the people the world knows today.

Because French speaking Canadians were fundamentally opposed to supporting anything that was clearly "English," they strongly opposed conscription of their young men to fight in the two world wars, which they considered to be English (or at least European) wars. To satisfy them in pre-election periods, politicians gave assurances that conscription would not be imposed.

However, elections happened and so did conscription. French speaking Canadians considered this to be a violation of the promises they had received. English speaking Canadians secretly wondered why a government should be allowed to force a young man to join an army, don a uniform, and carry a gun for the express purpose of killing someone. Or, instead, to be killed by an enemy they did not consider to be their personal enemy. Do we have the right, they thought, to refuse to kill on someone’s order? Killing, they had been taught since childhood, was fundamentally wrong.

In 1956, Egypt, supported by several allies, decided that the Suez Canal, built by Britain with the support of other countries, should be closed unless Egypt benefitted from the passage of ships through its territory. Such rights had been exercised since the beginning of trade in Eurasia. The closing of a shipping route from Europe to Asia, however, was not taken lightly by European countries. A war, perhaps a third world war, was about to begin.

The United States rejected the use of war to solve the conflict, though many other countries considered it the only way to a conclusion.

Enter the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Lester Pearson. Almost single-handedly, Pearson brought the two sides together, received the backing of the UN, ended the Suez conflict, and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his Herculean efforts.

Canadians took great pride in Pearson’s ground-breaking success. Peace, they came to believe, was possible, if two opposing sides come together to talk and if someone has a proposal that seems worthy to both. Peace through talking, not fighting, became a mantra in Canada. The message following recognition of the first Canadian to receive so much world attention made Canadians want to follow Pearson’s example. Peace, they said, would be their way of thinking from that time on.

The third major event to shape the thinking of modern Canadians was the passing through parliament, under the guidance of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, of bills that made Canada officially bilingual and multicultural. Trudeau, through his persuasive way of speaking, made Canadians believe that these were not just right, but the only way possible to keep their country together. Canadians always wanted to do right.

Canada would now recognize two official languages, French and English, and allow and encourage the preservation and development of the cultures of the people from many different countries who had come to make their new homes and new lives in Canada.

Canada, in a sense, was to be the unofficial example of how one country could act effectively in the same way as the United Nations should act as a world community.

Being peaceful and multicultural of nature, as a result of teaching of these values for half a century, Canadians are now recognized around the world for being friendly, willing to learn about other cultures, neither self-imposing nor self-possessed, and willing to make peace where they could. Other nationalities share these same values, but Canadians have exemplified them to the world.

So it is that we have created LASTfriends, a model for an international community, the closest the world has ever come to a global village.

We Canadians invite you, our fellow villagers, to say hello and share with us your culture and your lives, as we share ours with you.

It is a privilege and an honour to share our world and the LASTfriends forum with you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems'
June, 2005
Join the group at:
Learn about the TIA book and project at

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Human Ecosystem: What are we killing?

The Human Ecosystem
Very few people are so heartless that they would destroy a beautiful religious place, even if the religion is not their own. If they see the beauty, they will want to avoid harming it.

How, then, would people want to harm another human being, if they understood the beauty and complexity of the human body? It is easier to bomb a faceless enemy than it is to destroy a human who stands in front of you. The beauty and complexity of the human body is such that it makes the most elaborate cathedral or mosque look plain by comparison.

Our body is made up of trillions of cells. Each cell, when it came to life, contained the pattern (DNA) that makes each of us the bionic organism we are. In other words, each cell could recognize each other cell of our body by its identifying feature, its DNA.

Each cell knows exactly what its purpose in life is. It knows what it is supposed to do and how it is supposed to go about doing it. It also knows exactly how it is to go about working in conjunction with others of its kind, such as to provide the functions of a liver or of skin. These groups of cells, known as organs, also have a collective knowledge of how to work together with other organs for the benefit of the entire organism, us.

When we need nutrition, the cells that make us feel hungry activate. When we get full, proteins are made to tell us that we are no longer hungry. When we have too much sugar in us, the pancreas secretes insulin to prevent the liver from overreacting and our other cells from oxidizing too much energy.

When we are cool, we shiver to create heat by burning more energy. When we are hot, we sweat so that our perspiration will evaporate, a cooling process.

Our spleen regulates our immune system, which prevents us from succumbing to diseases. When it senses a new disease organism, it creates antibodies to kill the invader. Our heart speeds up the pumping of blood when we need more oxygen in our cells, then slows to a minimum when we sleep peacefully. Our lungs take in as much air as we need, then our diaphragm expands faster to allow our lungs to take in more air as we need it when exercising.
Every part of our body is finely tuned to do its respective functions perfectly, in coordination with each other function of our bodies.

Then we have other micro-organisms that inhabit within us. Some experts claim that there are more of them than of cells in our bodies. They act in symbiosis with our cells, that is, they provide things that our bodies need that we can’t get elsewhere and our cells in turn provide a good living environment and food and waste disposal services for these independent organisms that dwell within us.

We can’t survive without them and they can’t survive without us. The interdependence is so complex that we humans with our superior minds are unable to comprehend how it all works, how it all fits together. We are certainly unable to understand and appreciate an ecosystem that is beyond our imaginations in sophistication.

I maintain that if we teach some of this to children, they would not seriously consider harming another person out of respect for something that is beyond their understanding.

Every person in prison has this same ecosystem within them. Every resident of a mental institution, every doctor, every starving peasant, every military general and every drug addict has this same ecosystem within them. Every person who belongs to a different religion than you has it. Every person of a culture your people despise has it. Every person of black, pink, yellow, brown or red skin has it.

We all have the same astoundingly complex ecosystem.

Yet this does not account for who we are. Our personalities, our skills, our strengths, our talents, our brilliance, our thoughts, even our stupidity in some things are not accounted for by this ecosystem. Most people cannot begin to comprehend the differences between the cellular ecosystem that is the human body and the energy system that is our personality, our spirituality, our soul.

We believe others who claim to know "the truth," who claim to have received divine inspiration or divine insight because we have no way of understanding it ourselves. Every person who belongs to every religion on Earth believes that his or hers is the only true religion, that others are mistaken in their beliefs. Each one gives respect to their founder for his or her guidance in a subject that is too complex for their understanding.

We endlessly praise those who give us answers because we lack the answers ourselves. And yet, we do not know if their answers are correct. We accept their answers for how life works instead of seeking our own answers.

I have sought my own answers for half a century. I have found what I need to begin to understand. What I understand more than anything is that most people have not looked far enough to make sense of their world. The more you study, without being sidetracked onto one way of thinking, the clearer the subject of life becomes.

We cannot comprehend the complexities of the details of life. But we can understand it in general terms, which is good enough for most of us.

But beware: the more you understand about life, the more you will realize how much some people are misleading others. They are telling how it is, not teaching how to learn. This is wrong. It accounts for most of the strife in our world today.

War, street gangs, video games and movies objectify killing, treating the lives of "the enemy" as if they were ducks in a shooting gallery or tin cans to be kicked along a street gutter. There is more to life, whether a Nobel Prize winner or a thug waiting on Death Row, than ducks and tin cans. Yet many children grow up thinking of others who are not among their circles of loved ones as shooting gallery ducks or tin cans to be kicked.

Ignorance is not a pretty thing. Learning is beautiful. Knowing is exquisite beyond explanation.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems'

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why Pope John Paul Failed

Pope John Paul II went further than any Roman Catholic pope in history to bring peace and tolerance among people of various faiths, especially between Catholics and Muslims and Jews. He was the first pope ever to enter a Muslim mosque, in May 2001, when he visited the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, site of the tomb of John the Baptist.
During a visit to Israel, in 2000, he prayed at the Western Wall, considered by some to be the holiest of sites in Judaism. His prayer went as follows: God of our fathers ... we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer and asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.
In the custom of Jews visiting the Western Wall, he folded the printed prayer and tucked it into a niche in the rocks.
He was a tireless campaigner for tolerance among all peoples and peace in places where religious and cultural differences had turned to war.
John Paul’s method of working toward peace, understanding and tolerance followed what his predecessors had done. He told people to be peaceful and to love. One of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII, did more to actually bring people of differing faiths together, through his ecumenical councils.
As with all calls for peace, however, the requests by the Pontiffs went unanswered. But why?
We do not change our behaviour by being told. Peace, tolerance and understanding are learned at the knees of our fathers and mothers, before we are even old enough to know there are others who are different from ourselves.
As young children, we watch, we listen, we learn to interpret what we absorb. The ways of our parents become our own ways years later.
This can be changed a great deal by having peace, tolerance and understanding taught actively in schools. In many schools, it is taught as an adjunct to events that happen in and around the school. In most schools, it is not an integral part of the curriculum.
If these values are so important to us, why do we not teach them as part of our curriculum? The reason is that it hasn’t been done that way before. These values have been taught in the home and in religious places, not in schools. With fewer adults going to worship, religion being banned in schools in North America and both parents in many families required to work every day to support themselves, the most important values in our cultures are being neglected. Everyone assumes that values are being actively taught somewhere, but they are being missed for many children.
These children grow up to want go to war (as in their video games), to become inmates in prisons and mental institutions and to be patients for the burgeoning professions of psychiatry, psychology and counselling. A review of the literature respecting these situations gives ample evidence of this truth.
To make changes that will accommodate modern conditions of life, there must be a plan of action, a methodology to make things happen, unlike anything that has happened in the past. There is one, only one viable one, on the table.
It may be found in ‘Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems.’ Read about it at
We can’t leave it to others to do what is right. That is what Pope John Paul did and what everyone else has done for centuries. It hasn’t worked. We need a simple plan that will not bankrupt us and that may be implemented without much disruption.
Read about TIA and you will understand what that plan is.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems
Coming June 2005