Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Being good at something

"It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf."
- H. L. Mencken

The point here is not to make fun of the great poet or musician, but to emphasize that no one can be good at everything. As a corollary, we should teach children that everyone can be good at something if they work hard enough at it and dedicate themselves to becoming good.

As social beings, we need recognition from our peers for our successes in order to feel that we have a place in the society in which we live.

We must teach children these concepts and offer them options to choose from if we want them to avoid turning to the easy alternatives, such as becoming known as the kid who can drink the most beer, drive the fastest or attempt the riskiest stunt. This teaching must be done proactively because this kind of learning doesn't happen naturally.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems
Please visit the TIA home site at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Being uncomfortable

"Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream."
- Peter McWilliams

Comfort is, at best, a temporary state. By definition, being comfortable means that no progress is made and little effort is being put forth.Life is not comfortable, at least not for those who want to survive.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Filling prisons and menal hospitals

Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.
- William Ellery Channing, clergyman, reformer (1810-1884)

The skills involved in "reading" other people should be taught to children. A bully, for example, ceases to feel he has power over others when the others know that bullies harbour great insecurities about their personal worth to the world.

Teaching potential victims of bullies is one thing, teaching children in such a way that they do not lack self esteem and do feel they have value to the world is another. People who lack self esteem develop emotional and psychological problems.

Some find themselves in mental hospitals, some in prisons and some live under bridges with other homeless people. Many just suffer from anxiety which eats away at the essence of their lives, thereby destroying relationships they have with their spouses and families.

These critically important matters of human nature can be taught. But I am not aware of one school system in the world that teaches them as part of its curriculum. A TIA program would do that.

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

Saturday, May 21, 2005

What parents don't know

I received an email from an internet group recently that included this excerpt:

>"Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids." The book is based on an elaborate survey into parenting that you may have already heard about in which two-thirds of parents expressed feelings of guilt about their parenting skills.<

I brooded over this matter of inadequate parenting skills for years before deciding to research the subject. I had raised two kids, single-handedly (though with occasional "help" from their mother), through their teen years. In short, the kids reached the age of being on their own, mom died and I was eliminated from their lives because I didn't have as much money as their mother to help them to buy cars, houses and so on. What had I done wrong?

As a teacher and sociologist, I also wondered why so many kids got into trouble in their teen years and why newspapers were filling with more and more crime and addiction stories with each passing year.

By 1999, I had developed a theory, based on sociological principles, my research and input from many friends around the world. It turns out parents all over the world have similar problems. A teacher friend urged me to write a book because she had not heard anything like my ideas before. I told her that I had simply learned what was publicly available from university research papers. She said, no, the core of what I had developed was new and that I must tell others.

Six years later, the book is about to be released and I have learned even more about how little new parents know about parenting and how children learn. New parents learn how to give birth, in Lamaze classes, but we don't have facilities to teach what young children need, how they express their needs and what they do if their needs are not met.

Worse, I reached the shocking conclusion that schools are expected to produce citizens of tomorrow, but are forbidden from doing what they must to develop children toward this objective.

You can read a bit about the book (and some of the book itself) at www.billallin.com/cgi.index.pl
Its followers represent every inhabited continent today. Don't be surprised that you have not heard of the book, called 'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems.' Neither the book nor I are household words. Yet.

By the way, a social problem is any community problem that does not center around infrastructure. So drugs, crime, homelessness, divorce rates, psychological problems and so on, even illiteracy and racism, are included in the solutions.

Can these problems be reduced, while building kids who live in safe communities and who develop balanced lives where they can cope with the downturns in their lives? Yes. Without hiring more police and prison guards, building more prisons and courts and without engaging more psychiatrists and therapists.

As a friend (who has decided to sell the book in his food store because he believes it is so important) said: You have to read the book to understand.

We need your support and your input of ideas when the time comes, not your money. "TIA" is a huge project that will change the world, one community at a time. Today we are a small but dedicated group, with no common affiliation to a political philosophy or religion. Please learn more about us and Turning It Around at www.billallin.com/cgi.index.pl

If you like what you read, join the internet community for TIA at

Thanks for reading this far. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems www.billallin.com/cgi.index.pl

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Are we headed in the right direction?

"If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed." - Chinese Proverb
A more constructive way of saying the same thing would be: if we want to end up somewhere other than where we are headed, we must change our direction.

The objective of 'Turning It Around' is to give us the means by which we can change our direction to the way that most people want to go.

If we want to eliminate most of our social ills, there is only one way to do it. There is only one way, and that way is not being followed by our political and religious leaders today.

It's not hard to change our direction. We only need to look in the right place for the answers. A complete, simple and inexpensive plan is laid out in TIA.Unless we want to end up where we are headed.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

In war, the winners lose more than the losers

Fazeel, quoting a friend, wrote:> There is no glory in war, or in death.....
> if we think the "enemy" is as "human" as we are....we might developan abhorence to war...one of the first things propagandists do in war or near war is dehumanize the enemy....
> ... let us teach our children that we should judge a man "by the content of his character, rather than the colour of his skin"...
> I am sorry if my message seems out of touch with reality and naive....I think the naive should not become extinct...

I think that most people in the world believe this way. That is what makes 'Turning It Around' such an important movement for change.

When we think of war, especially of past wars, we tend to think of the men and women who made "the ultimate sacrifice," by giving their lives. What a shame that we miss the greater tragedy of war.

At the end of a war, the "losing" side harbours a bitterness at its loss. But it prepares to rebuild, to reform itself as a significant influence in the world. The "winning" side savours its victory.

The winning side had more powerful guns and more devastating bombs. It also turned more of its people into killing machines who have little regard for the lives of others who are not like them. These people become the breeding ground for hate, for abuse of drugs and spouses, for crime involving the use of weapons and for mental illness because they cannot re-adjust to a society at peace.

Modern militaries go to great expense to turn their people into killing machines. They spend nothing or almost nothing on changing them back to law-abiding, well adjusted citizens. Instead, they turn killers they have created loose into communities across their country.

The losing side in a war suffers deprivation and damage to the bodies of its people. The winning side suffers harm to the minds of its own people.

War is, ultimately, self-destructive.

Please feel free to pass this message along to others who might benefit from reading it. We can, together, turn it around.

For more information about how to do this, see www.billallin.com

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

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Why children become stupid adults

Everything is for the eye these days - TV, Life, Look, the movies. Nothing is just for the mind. The next generation will have eyeballs as big as cantaloupes and no brain at all.
- Fred Allen

The comedian joked at the expense of the theory of evolution. However, his thinking was on the right track.

Instead of no brain, many people have brains that have turned to mush from lack of use. These people are most adament that they can think as clearly and with as much depth as anyone else.

Sadly, when asked, they can't give an example of such cognitive ability.

We have taught children, in western society, that television is the source of all critical information. While it can be, many children will choose programs based on their ability to entertain, rather than on their ability to educate.

Without parental guidance, they become, from early ages, victims of the ignorance of their own parents.

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

Friday, May 06, 2005

Why we have so many demented people

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente medical care program in California found that obesity in middle age is found to often tie inwith dementia later in life.
Obese women are twice as likely to suffer from dementia than women of normal weight. The likelihood is a mere 30 percent higher in men.

Those are the facts, now let's speculate. Obese people, by reputation, are less active than people of normal weight. That means that when they have time to spare, especially as they get older and particularly when they retire, they are more likely to indulge in passtimes that involve little physical activity.

Physical activity is hard work for an overweight or obese person.

The easiest (most at-hand) non-physical activity for people of any age to indulge in would be watching television. Since the beginning of its popularity in the 1950s, critics of television have claimed that TV viewers have little to think about because they have all the thinking done for them by the producers of television programs. The answers, the conclusions, the solutions have all been worked out so the viewer has no thinking to do for himself or herself.

The brain is one of those "use it or lose it" organs. Once a person reaches the state of dementia, the brain has been "lost", for all intents and purposes. There is no turning back because the brain no longer has anything to turn back with. At that point, it no longer has the resources to heal itself.

Television makes the progression towards dementia an easy path.

However, at any point before dementia sets in, the human brain can be turned around and worked back into shape again. The trouble is that people who are on the path toward dementia are the ones least likely to want to turn back. They find the world too daunting, too frightening.

Intelligence means nothing in this scheme. The most intelligent people (on the road to dementia) will be the most avid and determined that they are doing the right thing (at least for themselves, they claim). They have the most closed, and forcibly closed, minds. Theworld, they have concluded, is a terrible place and getting worse.

They close their world around them like a cocoon, living their lives mostly within the confines of their living quarters.

The best way to avoid this is to cultivate active minds in younger people. Teach them to think, to reason, to solve problems and puzzles. Teach them that learning is exciting, refreshing, invigorating. Teach them that intellectual activity (working the brain) is the easiest way to show others that they have superior knowledge on a particular subject (becoming an Olympic athlete or sports star is much harder, by comparison).

This enhances self esteem, which is lacking in many people and which is severely lacking in those with closed minds.

Yes, a TIA (Turning It Around) program would promote that. Yes, it would save lives and fortunes on health care for elderly people. Yes, it would make for cultures and societies that are mentally much healthier than we have now.

Are you ready to help me to turn it around?

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems'
Read about TIA at www.billallin.com

Join the TIA group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/turningitaround/

Good defence against bullies

"Wit makes its own welcome, and levels all distinctions. No dignity, no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is generally believed that wit is a function of intelligence. While there is some relationship between intelligence and wit, the relationship is minor. What is more important to the execution of wit is learning how it works and practice.

Wit may be taught. If wit, as Emerson suggests, is an effective weapon of defence, and less harmful than bombs, guns and knives, it follows that wit should be taught to children.

Bullies, by nature, have poor self images. If every child and every adult had a witty response to the assault of a bully, bullying would cease to be a social problem.

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

Thursday, May 05, 2005

When God speaks to people

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
- Susan B Anthony, reformer and suffragist (1820-1906)

When someone reasons something through consciously, we call it thinking. When someone does the same thing, only unconsciously, where one part of the brain works on it while other parts think about something else, some ascribe mystic powers to that person.

The brain has two distinct halves, each of which may think about something different at times. When such an event occurs, we should be careful about believing those who claim that God has spoken to the quieter half of the brain.

Everyone has these experiences. It's how our sophisticated brain functions. It's physiology.

Just because we don't understand it does not mean that we have the right to claim that God has spoken to us, that God has intervened. God has no reason to sneak uninvited and unexpectedly into the quiet half of someone's brain.

We don't need to believe anyone who makes mystical claims based on his own ignorance of how his own brain functions.

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

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Protect the adult, save the child

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.
- Ivan Illich, priest (1926-2002)

And you thought slavery had been abolished. These are people whose minds have been enslaved. They were enslaved because they could not cope with the stress and downturns in their lives, thus turned to addictions to relieve their stress temporarily, or they could not cope with the assaults of advertisers who make them believe that they are not good enough unless they have certain products.

This kind of slavery can be abolished only by teaching children the skills and knowledge they need before they face the problems of adulthood.

A well protected adult was taught how to protect himself as a child.

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

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Twisting minds

The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE)

Ah, for the simple days when this schema was true. Now we have television, advertising agencies, religious zealots, war-mongering political leaders and other propagandists who twist our minds and guide our thoughts without consideration for the long term consequences of their work.

And we have education systems that allow it all to happen without protecting children--thus adults--from any of it.

Many cry out at the injustice of it. Too few ask how to change it.

The way to change it is simple, cheap and easily implemented. No one will see it unless they look in the right place.

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

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Buying fear

"Fear does not have any special power unless you empower it by submitting to it."
- Les Brown

Fear is the only thing we buy and pay for, then continue to pay for indefinitely, but never receive any benefits from it.

For the most part, all fear is, in some way, a fear of the unknown. Of all the things that people fear, an extremely tiny percentage of them ever come to pass. In fact, fear is often more destructive than what is feared.

Fear depresses the immune system, creates anxiety that sends harmful chemicals through our bodies and keeps us from living a life other than in its shadow.

Fear is hard to cure, but fairly easy to prevent. A TIA program would teach children about fear before they find themselves in its grip, thus giving them the tools to avoid its damage.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems
Learn about how to prevent fear at www.billallin.com