Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What do you want of your life?

"Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning."
- John Henry Cardinal Newman

Many people will not understand this quote. If you don't, perhaps your life has not really begun because you don't yet know what life is about.

You can't conduct yourself through something you don't understand. And you certainly can't reach a desired destination if you don't know where you are going.

What do you really want of your life? You want to conduct yourself in such as way that on your deathbed you can look back and say "I did it!"

What "it" do you want to do?

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' giving people directions for their lives so they don't become slaves to someone else's objectives.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Language and culture tied together

You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.
- Ronald Searle, artist (1920- )

When we speak only one language, we tend to associate that language with ourselves. That is, the language and we are one entity, inseparable. Only when we learn a second language do we begin to understand what language is, its complexity, its history, what it represents.

The history of a language is also the history of those who speak the language. It's part of the culture, so much so that people who live in situations where their ancestral language is disappearing (from lack of speakers) often lose the culture of their ancestors as well.

Learning more than one language, at a minimum a few words of other languages, should be a requirement for all people so that they can understand the foundations on which people of other cultures live.

We use different words, with different sounds and different definitions, but we say the same things no matter where in the world we live.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' helping us see what we have in common with others who seem to be different.
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Monday, August 29, 2005

Churchill on fanatics

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject"
- Winston Churchill

The key point here is "can't change his mind." Some one who is persistent about reaching a goal would not be called a fanatic.

"Fanatic" has a negative connotation to it, suggesting that the subject about which a fanatic is so exercised is insubstantial or of little consequence.

Fanatic is the precursor of "fan," as in "sports fan."

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' working to give each person topics of substance to be passionate about.
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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Advertisers prey on children

"The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague."
- Bill Cosby

Children should be taught that the sole objective of all forms of advertising is to take money from them. They also should be taught that advertisers will attempt to do this by making them believe that they need something that they, in fact, likely do not need.

The purpose for this kind of teaching is not to squelch commerce and destroy the economy, but to make children aware that advertisers are more interested in their own income than in the welfare of their customers. This puts the buyer and the seller on more of an equal footing, as should be the case with a business arrangement.

Ask any child in a predominantly Christian country what he or she wants for Christmas and you will always get a definite answer. No doubt, the child wants a toy (or toys) that has been advertised on televison since early September. The toy may be broken by the end of December or abandoned two weeks later, but the child has wanted it for months before Christmas.

Children deserve to know that their minds are being manipulated. Banning addvertising aimed at children is a backwards and counterproductive way of doing things. Just teach the kids what advertisers are doing and they will be more inclined to want something they can really use rather than what has been imprinted on their brains by advertising.

Items that children can use to build or to create, activities that will help them to develop in a healthy manner, are seldom advertised. Yet these will last longer than conventional toys and will contribute to a child's development in ways that toys never will. They also provide activities that kids can use when they gather together to play, longer after Christmas has passed.

Children have the ability to ignore advertising just as much as adults. We need to give them the knowledge about advertising, rather than assuming that they will not understand what advertising is all about. They understand. They simply do not have any built up defences against it. They are denied this knowledge because of adult ignorance of their capabilities.

Teach the children.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' seeking to protect children from ignorance imposed on them by adults.
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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mental toughness

"Mental toughness is many things. It is humility because it behooves all of us to remember that simplicity is the sign of greatness, and meekness is the sign of true strength. Mental toughness is spartanism with qualities of sacrifice, self-denial, dedication. It is fearlessness, and it is love."
- Vince Lombardi

Each person needs some degree of mental toughness in order to withstand the rigors of a tough life and people who derive satisfaction by hurting or taking advantage of others.

Mental toughness is a requirement of nature. We can see it in every form of life. Those without a built-in drive to survive and succeed die.

Mental discipline and toughness must be taught to human children. We are not born with it. We are different from most animals in that we have a childhood training period of about 20 years during which we must learn how to survive in a world that might crush us if we are not prepared.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' preparing to teach children the survival skills they need to hold their own in a tough world.
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Gettikng rid of psychological baggage

"In life, satisfaction is experienced when activities are brought to a state of completion. Loss of energy and loss of control are functions of incompletion. The result of completing things releases one's ability to create. Prioritize any items that need to be completed, set a completion date, then do it."
- William Arthur Ward, American scholar

Unfinished business of any kind is excess baggage we carry with us. Even if we believe we have sufficiently supressed it or forgotten it, we carry it with us deep inside.Some excess baggage (psychological weight carried by our brain, though it may show as anxiety on our body) deserves to be cast off and forgotten. The rest, which cannot be forgotten, should be resolved. That which cannot be resolved deserves to be forgotten.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' helping people relieve the burden of excess psychological baggage.
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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Know who you are

"I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe, and someone said I was a snake, I'd think, no, actually I'm a giraffe."
- Richard Gere, to The Guardian (UK), June 2002

This man knows who he is and will not allow anyone to twist his mind into thinking that he is something he is not. Nor will he stand by while others accuse him of being something he is not.

It is critical that we know who we are, as there are always others who will tell us who they want us to be. Inevitably, they are wrong and what they want of us is a bad fit.

We are who we are. We can become more, but only by our own choosing and our own efforts and will.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' working to help each person understand who they really are.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What I said, what you heard

I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.
- Antonio Porchia, writer (1886-1968)

When we speak or write, we always know what we mean, what we intend to convey in our message. What we don't know is how the receiver of our message interpreted what we said or wrote.

The problem is not just that English words have many different meanings. The problem is that our brains latch onto certain words while virtually ignoring others. From these certain few words in a message, our brains formulate what they believe the speaker or write intended to say.

This problem is so peculiar that I have many times known people to be in heated debate over an apparent issue, when in fact they are both arguing the same side of the issue. In other words, they were arguing, but they agreed on which side of the argument was better. They could not "hear" the message that the other person was saying, they could only pick up and latch onto words that were different from words they would have used. These words gave them a different impression of what their debate "opponent" was saying than what was intended.

I wonder, for example, in the six nation negotiations involving North Korea, how often the negotiators agree but are unable to see that they agree. Thus they conclude that the "others" must be either stupid or perverse.

Whenever there is doubt about how what we have said has been interpreted by another person, we should ask that person what he or she understood from what we said.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' trying to show the world that many of our differences are really similarities that we express differently.
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Monday, August 22, 2005

Have we lose our capacity for common sense?

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."
- Bertrand Russell, English philosopher and mathematician (1872-1970)

This discrepancy bothered me for many years as well. How could it be that humanity progressed in a fairly logical form for thousands of years when so many of us in the present act randomly or arbitrarily?

The only conclusion I find acceptable is that logical thinking (a.k.a. common sense) is taught to children, or is not. Children who are taught to consider consequences to their actions before committing to them grow to be adults who have common sense, and who have enough of it to have influence over their respective communities or they become leaders. Children who are not proactively taught to consider consequences of their behaviour before doing something have such random or disorganized lives that they have less influence on their communites.

Russell, it seems, could see stupid or unaccountable behaviour in people around him, but failed to take into account the logical behaviour of others who, to him, did not breach his intellectual radar.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' trying to make sense of the world by teaching people to consider consequences of what they do before doing it.
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Extraordinary claims?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
- Carl Sagan, astronomer and author (1934-1996)

Are the proposals I make in Turning It Around extraordinary? In a way, they are for the 21st century.

In every generation prior to the Industrial Revolution everyone knew the purpose and importance of the family. Since then it has lost its meaning for many people.

Today some people seem to believe that a family is the group of people who give children gifts on their birthdays and at Christmas (or whatever festival they celebrate) and that provide them shelter, food and cash. When the provision of those services ends, they believe they need have no further association with the members of their families.

Does this sound drastic, desperate or cynical? If so, you need to get closer to some families to learn what they are about. "Home" for too many children is a pit stop where they sleep, refuel and get more money.If this sounds wrong to you, then I invite you to join me to make it better.

So long as these conditions exist in your community, there will be troubles of the sort your read about on the front page of the newspaper.
We can change it now that we know how.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' making sense of your world so that together we can put it back together in good order.
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Saturday, August 20, 2005

How wisdom becomes lost to younger generations

A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.
- Miguel de Cervantes, novelist (1547-1616)

Cervantes (Spanish writer best known in the English speaking world for 'Don Quijote') provides an excellent definition for the word proverb. However, a few more words might be helpful.

Parents and older family members tend to pass along proverbs to younger generations as words of wisdom. Younger generations tend to accept them not necessarily as words of wisdom but instead as part of their culture.

We adults should encourage children to question us about these proverbs. We should be able to prove their value to our children, especially so if we can give examples from our own lives.

Proverbs gain status as words of wisdom worth adopting as personal life guidelines only when children hear something meaningful, such as examples from a parent's life, to which to attach the sayings in their minds.

Without the personal attachments, proverbs are just cute sayings that only gain meaning later in life when, as adults long past childhood, we see the truth and importance of them through the mistakes we have made in our own lives.

Wisdom has meaning to younger generations only when they have some way of identifying it as important to them, such as through the experiences of their parents.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' tying real-life experiences to words of wisdom so that children do not need to make the same tragic mistakes as their parents.
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Friday, August 19, 2005

Tell the truth in simple language

"Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Works of imagination" does not necessarily means fantasy. It means taking a reader beyond the humdrum thoughts of routine existence.

When writing Turning It Around, I faced two challenges. The first was to tackle a subject that most people consider far too complex to consider, that being solutions to social problems that keep getting worse as our governments add patches to patches with more prisons and psychiatric help for broken people. It had to be written in a form that could be understood by everyone who would read the book, no matter what their reading level.

The second was to express these now-simplified concepts in words that cannot be misunderstood and must not be able to be twisted by opponents to serve their own anti-social goals.

I believe that TIA achieves these objectives. Ironically, the print media treat something written so clearly and plainly, expressing concepts in such simple ways that they seem self-evident to any reader, as if the work does not warrant reporting. They want to take something that is hard to understand and make it easier for their readers. But then, something that is harder to read will not be read by many people.

I am reminded of the wonderful children's writer Dr. Seuss, whose books dealt with meaningful subjects in such "silly" language that they received little recognition at first, until children spoke by buying his books as fast as they could get them.

TIA will only catch the attention of print media when people buy the book from bookstores. I invite you to do your part with that and to tell your friends about the book too.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' bringing solutions to community and personal problems to your doorstep, like the old style milk delivery, only for the mind.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Was the past so different?

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
- L.P. Hartley, writer (1895-1972)

A casual review of any period of history might suggest that life was different in "those days," that in many ways they might have been better. Close study reveals that life was tougher in any previous time in history. We tend to focus on the golden aspects of the past while ignoring the dangerous lead.

Was the past, any period of the past, significantly different from the way our lives are today? Human nature has not changed. People were in the past the way people are today.

Greed, for example, has always been prominent in any society. However, some people learn that greed does not benefit individuals over a long term and is clearly harmful to a culture, a society or a religion, bringing about its eventual disintegration.

If some people can learn, we can teach everyone.

Let us teach every child the same basic values that will help them as adults and will benefit their families and their communities.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' provides the methodology to learn what our common values are and to implement the teaching of them to every child, in schools and in their own homes.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The dubious power of doctors

My faith in doctors is immense. Just one thing spoils it;their pretence of authorised omniscience.
- Piet Hein, Danish poet, philosopher, designer

This may have been more true of doctors in the past. Now they hesitate to grant themselves such exalted importance for fear of litigation for malpractice.

This stance has now been adopted by business people and politicians.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems', making politicians truly accountable to their electorate for what the voters want represented.
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Monday, August 15, 2005

Who is civilized?

A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war.
- Herbert V. Prochnow, banker (1897-1998)

As a child I used to wonder what the markers were of a "civilized" country. In those days, school lessons seemed to suggest that those who did not live in tribal societies were civilized. I came to believe that peoples whose cultures stressed peace more than war, who sought to live in harmony with others rather than to subdue them, were the most civilized.

Now, it seems, powerful implements of war, the ability to threaten war and the ability to launch a war in the clear belief of inevitable success are markers of civilization.

To me, as a child, "civilization" was a powerful word. Today, we had best stick with the definition given the word by anthropologists, people living together in urban groups.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems', striving to redefine civilization as the ability to live together in harmony and to seek compromise rather than conflict.
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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Origins of language and culture

The living language is like a cow-path: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay.
- E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

Have you ever tried to persuade a cow to go somewhere it doesn't want to go? Yet it will follow other cows, at least in the same general direction, without prompting.

Culture comes into being in a similar fashion. We may identify with our language and our culture as integral parts of who we are. Yet who our ancestors were, where they went, what they did is buried inside of us just as surely as who we are comprises us today.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' shining a light on our past so we can see our way today.
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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Bringing truth to light

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

Truth needs opposition in order to verify itself and gain credibility among a large community.

The worst thing that can happen to truth is to ignore it. When we do, it hangs around and eventually imposes itself on us or our descendants.

Let's not ignore the truth of Turning It Around. Let's not leave the next generation a worse mess than we have created in ours.

We can make marvellous improvements in short order, if we get busy. Tell others about the TIA group and invite them to join at
Big jobs can only be accomplished if we have others to help us and to lean on when needed.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' bringing truth to the world before it's too late.
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Friday, August 12, 2005

Does the world owe you a living?

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing; it was here first."
- Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

It's a symptom of how poorly prepared children and adolescents are to face the world of adult responsibilities that they come to believe that the world "owes them a living." The world does not owe them a living, of course, but it does owe them (we owe them) the facts and skills they need to survive and thrive, as people not just as workers.

A person is not primarily the job (or lack thereof) that he holds. Yet that is what school systems teach to. Schools prepare children for jobs. They should prepare children for life, then jobs would be an integral part of their lives--but not the centre of it.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' wants to prepare children to be full adults, not just employees.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lions eating lambs

Don't ask me who's influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he's digested, and I've been reading all my life.
- Giorgos Seferis, writer, diplomat, Nobel laureate (1900-1971)

Though I find the imagery unsettling and unexpected of a diplomat, the thinking remains sound. We are the consequences of our experiences.

How does reading fit into the scheme of things? Reading exercises the brain in ways that nothing else does. Not conversation, not physical involvement and certainly not viewing television or movies. These latter activities do not put into play the same cognitive processes as reading.

Reading forces the brain to plunge deeper into its potential, in the process forming new neural connections that allow us to think beyond the surface appearance of what we experience. Specifically, it allows us to see causes, while others may see only effects.

Only when we understand the causes of conditions do we have any possibility of changing them for the future.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' gives us the causes of the unpleasant conditions in our families and our communities, then offers solutions that may be used by everyone.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Can you see God?

If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.
- Mohandas K. (“The Mahatma”) Gandhi (1869-1948)

Gandhi is not saying that each person you meet should demonstrate signs of the divine to you. He is saying that you find what you look for. If you are unable to find God within yourself, you will be unable to see him in others.

Others are reflections of you, in a sense.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' seeks to unite the divine in all of us.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Heading for the Orwellian nightmare

"It isn't a very long step from a conformist society to a regimented society. Although it would take longer to create an Orwellian nightmare through voluntary surrender of individuality -- and thus of independence -- than through totalitarian edict, the results would be very much the same."
- J. Paul Getty

Do you see this happening anywhere in the world?
A "regimented society" could be a police state, feudalism or some sort of totalitarian society. The evidence is available to the world.

The "Orwellian nightmare" referred to in the quote is George Orwell's book "1984."

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' directing people away from the orwellian nightmare toward a society of educated people.
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Monday, August 08, 2005

Life's detours might be golden

No one ever ever won a chess game by betting on each move. Sometimes you have to move backward to get a step forward.
- Amar Gopal Bose, electrical engineer, inventor, founder Bose Corp. (1929- )

In other words, no line into the future is straight. A setback or detour might be what you need to put you onto a better course.

For most of us who have a plan for the future, it's a haphazard one because we cannot take unforeseen circumstances into consideration beforehand. Sometimes a step backward allows us to evaluate many factors that affect us and our loved ones from a perspective that would not have been possible if nothing unexpected had happened.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' helps to alleviate the pain of life's detours.
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Sunday, August 07, 2005

The nature of greatness

"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact."
- Edmund Burke

Great people inspire others to work toward common goals. How each reaches their respective objectives along the way might require innovation, individualizations of the plan, which cannot be exercised under rigid rules.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic SocialProblems' is the answer, if you know the question.
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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sanctity of women's rights

When assessing the rights of women, men must play no role in the formulation. There should be no "Women have this right, but..."

The rights of women stand alone, without comparison to or influence by or from the rights of men.

The rights of women should be absolute, without exceptions where the rights of men might supercede. There is no time when the right of a man is more important than the right of a women. This could only exist in a society, effectively, of slavery.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' has the methodology to make women's rights a normalized part of society.
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Only one path to world peace

Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
- Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

It's an odd and unfortunate fact of life that we tend to teach values and virtues after these have been violated. This reactionary form of teaching of societal norms has its consequences. Some children do not learn them well enough or in time to save them from adopting features of their lives that remain as permanent violations of societal norms.

For example, murder becomes a norm within some groups in some cities, though it violates an almost universal norm of humanity, which is "Do not kill."

In order for values, beliefs and societal norms of behaviour to become adopted and internalized by every person in a society, every child must be taught these, consistently, frequently and with similar emphasis.

Turning It Around advocates just such teaching. TIA is the only program in the world that proposes this common teaching among all people.

Do you want world peace? Then teach peace to every child. So long as peace is not taught consistently, frequently and with similar emphasis to every child, those who miss the message will not adhere to the wishes of a majority of people for peace.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' is the only path to world peace and personal safety.
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Friday, August 05, 2005

An original idea

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."
- Howard Aiken, computer pioneer (1900-1973)

Apparently we have little to fear about someone stealing our TIA concept. The idea that we could live in a world at peace, that we could live in communities without crime, that we could live our lives without fear and with confidence and happiness is today counterintuitive. What was once accepted and expected in human history is now foreign to us.

Now we will have to ram down the throats of people a concept that is in their best interests, that will make them whole individuals rather than automatons in a rat race.

Let's begin by offering them hope through Turning It Around. Let's begin by telling as many people as we can that there is reason for hope.

Let's tell them that they have to do something in order to earn that hope: they must learn and they must tell others.

It begins with us.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' is the book and the way.
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Failure paves the road to success

"Failure is the tuition you pay for success."
- Walter Brunell

Success is earned through experience. Experience is earned through failure.

Failure is not the end. Failure is merely a lesson on the road of life. To stop the progress of our lives after a failure is like quitting school in the middle of a course. The course, and life, go on with you or without you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems' will protect kids from the damage that today's kids suffer because they are not prepared for bad times in their lives.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Born equal? Then what?

"All people are born equal. Each has a right to earn his niche bythe sweat of his brow. But some sweat more and carve larger niches."
- Anonymous

It may not surprise you to learn that this quote was taken from a newsletter that promotes small business, home business and the entrepreneurial spirit. The underlying theme of the message is that business is the most important factor that determines if one carves aniche in life or not.

I submit that business is not the most important thing in life, though that is what is taught, by example, in western countries.

If we do not teach the values of our people to our children, they adopt the values that others teach them. In western countries, that falls to businesses who advertise and promote, with their sole objective of making a profit.

Bill Allin
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Monday, August 01, 2005

The Curses of Schools

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

One of the worst curses we can place on a child is to tell him that he can be anything he wants to be in life, then not give him the tools to achieve his goals. Schools are not set up to provide those tools, a deficiency that TIA plans to correct.

Another curse, almost as bad, is to tell a child that he won't likely amount to much in life. If the child believes this, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Schools are designed to tell children this very thing. They do it so well.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic SocialProblems' has answers when others have only questions and despair.
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