Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Troubles begin when we don't do what we know is important

“The whole problem with people is…they know what matters, but they don’t choose it.”
- Sue Monk Kidd, 'The Secret Life of Bees' (Penguin, 2002)

As much as I dislike absolutes ("the *whole* problem with people"), Kidd raises an interesting observation. Many people do not do what is important, even though they may know how important it is.

But why? On the surface, this doesn't make sense. However, delve into the subject of human behaviour and you find it shaped largely not by the individuals who demonstrate the behviour but by the media, religions, social pressure (peer influence), social groups, even by employers and unions.

These groups each have their particular agendas. Each wants people to do what the group wants to accomplish. Lacking any strong conviction to do differently, even though it may be important, people will follow what they are told to do, to believe, to think and they will act as they are told to act.

In general, people don't choose to avoid acting on what is important. Instead, they follow a different agenda that does not emphasize those things that are really important. They do what others tell them is important. They believe that what others tell them is important must be important because otherwise the others would not tell them something is important. The reasoning, obviously, is faulty, but they don't think about it.

We do not teach children to recognize what is important to observe in terms of behaviour and what is important to avoid. So we have young people trying drugs and becoming addicted before they realize what they have done. We have teens breaking the law and finding themselves in jail before they realize that they may have destroyed their prospects for the future.

If young people realize that what they are told to do or think is in conflict with what they believe is important (what they know intuitively is important), this may result in psychological problems they can't resolve themselves. This often results in retreat into forms of escape such as drugs or anti-social behaviour.

If parents and schools do not teach clearly and frequently what is important to the people of their community and support the actions of young people toward those objectives, they leave open the possibility that severe social problems will result.

Troubled communities demonstrate that we have not learned our lessons about socializing children well enough. "Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems" provides the path, the method of implementation and the course material for this kind of teaching.

There is no good reason why everyone should be affected by social problems in their home communities. The causes of these problems result from our not doing what we know is important.

We must act now before life becomes worse and neighbourhoods degenerate into chaos. Some have already reached that point, as if we needed examples.
Making the necessary changes requires very little work by a great number of people. The biggest part of the work required is for people to read the book so they know what to do.

Tell everyone you know. The solution are available to us, to everyone.

Act now.

Bill Allin
'Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems," striving to encourage people to learn what is important and to act on it.
Learn more at

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