Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Saving the world or conquering it?

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.
- H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Little has changed to make us think this statement is out of date. We can see its truth in several parts of the world.

Turning It Around seeks to save humanity, doesn't it? So does TIA have a false front for a more devious agenda?

TIA is a plan, an inexpensive and effective program that may be implemented in any country in the world.

It's author, yours truly, merely devised the plan and presents it for consideration by others, no matter where they live. I am not a drum beater for TIA.

I have dedicated myself to spreading the word about the possibilities and potential for TIA, not for leading it. TIA plans must be lead locally to be effective. There is nothing for me to lead, in that sense.

I hope to convince a great number of people to adopt the TIA plan. But I will not live long enough to see it take full effect, even if the plan is widely adopted in the near future.

It will take several years to overcome the social problems that we have developed in each community once the plan is adopted.

The world can be changed more quickly, but only by force. With force, people adopt plans reluctantly. TIA is intended to include everyone within its embrace, not exclude anyone. It is 'people friendly' in the best sense of the term.

TIA is a plan to help humanity to save itself, to give itself a future. It can't be forced on anyone because that would be counteractive to its entire purpose and raison d'etre.

It's there. Take it or leave it. As TIA is the only plan available that has any chance of working, it's up to people to recognize it and adopt it willingly. I am merely its courier.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to extend a helping hand to the world.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, January 30, 2006

Worry is a waste of life

"What worries you masters you."
- Haddon W. Robinson

No one wants to think of themselves as having a master, to be in a slave position. Yet many people put themselves in that position.

Worry is a waste of life. It has never accomplished anything, has never produced anything positive, has never improved even one life in the smallest way.

It has wasted huge amounts of time, eaten away at countless lives to the point where they are incapable of being happy or thinking positively, destroyed families and caused many people to become hermits within their diminished existences.

There is a switch within our minds. It's two points are positive and negative. When a situation arises where there is a possibility for failure or tragedy, worry takes the negative position.

The positive position is as easy to take. It's simply a matter of telling ourselves that the problem will work out OK. It requires a leap of faith that seems hard to take than the leap in the other direction.

Remember, you can't help anyone by worrying about them. You can't help yourself either. You can only hurt yourself and maybe your relationship.

In 99.99 percent of the cases where people worry, the problem resolves itself and life goes on. In the other 0.01 percent, the worrier dies of heart failure.

No matter how bad today looks, the sun will rise tomorrow. In all likelihood, so you will you.

If you thought positively about the now-old problem, you can look back and laugh at it. If you thought negatively, you will be too busy looking for something else to worry about to look back anyway.

Remember that switch. It's within your control.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make worry a history lesson.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What is the key to happiness

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
- Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)

Success and happiness are both terms about which we have great confusion. They each have many meanings.

However, by any definitions Schweitzer's statement is true. People considered to be successful in any country are never truly happy.

This man who devoted much of his life to helping the poorest people of the world, in Africa, was perhaps among the most successful. He was certainly happy doing what he loved, which was giving of himself to others.

For that he gained great respect from others around the world, which is one sign of success.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the difference between success and happiness.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Have we destroyed Christmas?

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year."
- David Grayson

Now that Christmas 2005 is part of our history, let's take a brief look at the significance of the event.

Grayson says "We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year." If this is true, as I believe it is, the practice condemns those who follow it as hypocrites.

If the spirit of Christmas is one of goodwill, peace and cooperation, we should treasure these values all year, every day, or they mean nothing.

Each time you or I violate any of these as if they are not norms of our society, we act as role models for others who may not have the same moral compass settings as we do. Others follow our example because they don't know any different.

If these values of goodwill, peace and cooperation comprise fundamental parts of who we are as a people, then we must teach them, actively and repeatedly, to every child in school and we must practise them ourselves.

Only then will we find others joining us to make them integral parts of our culture.

When someone opens a Christmas gift from you, they don't expect to find a practical joke or an empty container. They expect to find something of value to them. When someone looks to you as a role model, they expect the same.

Don't disappoint them.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show why good role models are critical for healthy societies.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, January 27, 2006

Giving from the heart, not the pocketbook

I am in the habit of looking not so much to the nature of a gift as to the
spirit in which it is offered.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, and poet (1850-1894)

Gift-giving has become an ugly blotch on the face of humanity.

At one time, giving a gift was a sign of love or respect, an indication that the giver wanted to touch the heart of the receiver in some personal way.

In today's industrial and post-industrial communities, gift-giving is a duty, often committed with some regret or annoyance.

When giving a gift is not done from the heart and as a sign of personally reaching out to the receiver, lives are being controlled by industries who pull strings like marionette masters, through advertising, to tell us what is right. Their interests are in the welfare of their shareholders, not in their customers.

Many of us don't know how to give a give from the heart. The easiest form of heart-giving is of our time, instead of our cash. It's easy, just promise to do something for the person whose life you want to touch. It should be something that will make the receiver's life a little better, somehow.

You can't buy love, and you can't buy respect of the kind that is earned. Only acts of the heart can accomplish that. They inevitably involve time, not money.

If the only gift you can give involves paying out cash, your life is being controlled by large industries who want you to be their cash slaves.

You will miss out on what loves is about if you don't know how to show it.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the difference between love and commerce to those who may have lost their compass of the heart.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Teach peace, not war

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
- Jose Narosky, writer

After 14,000 years of human civilization, we are just now coming to the point of taking responsibility for the "wounds" to soldiers who return from fighting in wars with all of their body parts intact.

Even that is only just beginning in a few Western countries, specifically the United States and the UK (though France and some smaller European countries are learning heavily in that direction).

Soldiers are taught to live in the worst of living conditions and to kill whomever they perceive to be "the enemy." Neither of these conditions would be remotely acceptable in peacetime or even in the warring home countries of the soldiers when there is no fighting at home.

Previously, soldiers who were taught to kill the enemy on sight (or even to destroy the places where they believe their enemy might be staying--many innocent civilians died in the process) came home and were expected to adapt to the norms of their society instantly.

They couldn't, which resulted in a large majority of ex-soldiers succumbing to alcoholism, drug addiction or participation in paramilitary or organized crime outfits.

Thus, once a war was over, the "winner" often could not be identified easily from the "loser" because both countries were heavily infected with anti-social elements, which often resulted in subsequent wars. Many countries of the world routinely participated in at least one war per generation for untold centuries.

How can this bring about progress of civilization? It can't. It's like trying to stop a speeding automobile in which you are travelling by holding your leg out the door and dragging your foot on the road surface. The vehicle doesn't slow much and you lose your foot.

There is only one way to stop the cycle of war. That is by educating the people of as many countries of the world as possible that peace must always be the objective, the only choice.

People believe what they are taught, as witnessed by the success of pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies that advertise heavily to achieve financial bonanzas, and even militant religious sects that teach that suicide bombing or terrorism will earn the perpetrators prime places in heaven.

Let's teach peace. They will learn if we teach enough people. We have the United Nations that could introduce this within its General Assembly.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving toward the motto:
Teach right, teach good, teach peace.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

No longer a rat

I lived in a city most of my life and had so much more than I do now. I had a big home, money to spend on most of what I wanted.
Now I live away from a city, not even close to a town or village.
Yet my quality of life is so much better. I have more now than I used to, though I have far less money to spend.

Living in a city, I lived a life that others expected of me. Living where I do now, I have peace within myself.

In the city, I worried about the risks to my survival as a person who strived to meet society's expectations of me. When you have much, you have much more to lose and recovery is extremely hard if fate deals you a bad blow.

Now I can look for alternatives for everything, something that was not possible in the city because society does not want city dwellers to have alternatives.

Living in a near-wilderness, I am growing in a way I could not in a city. I see city dwellers coming to their cottages, pretending that their lives are perfect, yet having to seek escapes just to keep them from insanity or breakdown.

I don't need escapes. I don't want to leave where my mind is now. Where my body is doesn't matter, except that society does not make constant demands on me every day where I live.

Here, people let you be who you are, without trying to mould you into something they want you to be.

People call the busy-ness of the city a rat race. What they never address is the fact that by participating in a rat race they label themselves. Only rats run in rat races.

I am not a rat, nor do I aspire to become one. I learned how to avoid being a rat.

Today I run my own race where my only competitor is myself. I'm a tough competitor, but one I can respect.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people avoid running in rat races.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Are we being led by deceivers or imbeciles?

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons), author and humorist (1835-1910)

"Putting us on" means "deceiving us."

Every political leader deceives his constituents because he believes his constitutents are not prepared to face the truth. Or because he wants to take his country where its people don't want to go, so he must deceive them to have his way.

The world is too messed up to put it all down to "imbeciles who really mean it."

What we have instead are too many leaders whose interest is power, wealth or some other form of greed. These are not characteristics of "imbeciles."

Peace is not possible when leaders put their own best interests ahead of the best interests of their people.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the way to peace for each person.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Be firm or you will be knocked down

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Vonnegut's point is that we each play the role of the person we believe ourselves to be, rather than who we really are.

Sometimes who we really are is not socially acceptable or is so distant from what our social and work associates believe is how people should be that "being yourself" is just plain risky.

However, playing a role is challenging too. It means being fairly consistent about what we do and say. It also means being about to defend the positions we take against opposition from those who have different beliefs.

We need to be careful about what role we choose to play to project ourselves into society because we may have to defend it vigorously against those who believe that way is wrong.

Be firm enough in your beliefs that you can't be downed by someone who argues well against you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each person keep their head erect when others are trying to knock it off.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, January 23, 2006

Music is a different world for a different life

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."
- Laurie Anderson (This one has also been attributed to Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, Elvis Presley, and Steve Martin, maybe more.)

Music is not just a form of entertainment, or even an escape. It's a different life.
To become absorbed in music you are listening to is to live a completely different life for a period of time.

Worries disappear. Problems disappear. Annoying people disappear. Your real life is shrugged off like old skin.

A 2002 survey of teens in Canada discovered that 89 percent of them said their music was the most important thing in their lives. Now you know why. (Their friends took second position.)

Music is not just the life a composer has created for you, but a life that you create for yourself. You can imagine any new life you want, depending on how you react to the music.

With a few rare exceptions, that new life is good. That's why music is an integral part of almost every society on Earth.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the importance of music in our lives.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Through The Looking Glass: keeping it real

When I make a word do a lot of work like that, I always pay it extra.
- Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) [Through the Looking Glass]

That was my thinking when I devised the title "Turning It Around." It takes you where your imagination wants to go.

However, practicality required the subtitle "Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems" because some people's imaginations wanted to go where TIA was not intended.

We do have real work with real people in real life situations to deal with.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to keep it real.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Modesty is not something to brag about

"True merit is like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes."
- Edward F Halifax

A worthy, notable, noble person seldom boasts of his value. First, he doesn't want to draw attention to himself because it might spoil the situation he has created for himself.

Second, he is busy with his good work, too involved to be concerned about reward or recognition.

Those who are less deserving of attention are more apt to seek it out because they don't get much in the middle of mediocrity in which they spend their lives.

A person worthy of merit will not likely avoid recognition when it is offered because, like everyone else, they need to be acknowledged for their worth too.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show that everyone needs acknowledgement and recognition to feel good about themselves. Without it, sometimes the good guys go bad.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, January 20, 2006

How to have great years as a senior citizen

"If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances."
- Julia Soul

A person who never takes chances never has the opportunity to succeed. If success is a measure of the worth of human existence, not taking chances is one way to waste a life.

Taking chances opens the possibility for failure, which is why so many people avoid it. They are deathly afraid of failure, so they avoid any actions or decisions which could lead to that possibility.

Yet failure is the path to wisdom. Being scared, embarrassed and hurt are experiences along the normal path of development of human emotion.

As senior citizens, we all want to be both wise and emotionally mature. Those who are not have missed something along the way.

Now we know what: failure, fear, embarrassment and hurt.

The wisest among us have made the most mistakes. Their wisdom comes from learning as a result of those mistakes. They have "been there" and "done that."

Emotional maturity means having the ability to cope with the extremes of emotions that come with the eventualities of life. Emotions, like a pendulum, swing both ways. They swing as far toward happiness as they do toward despair.

Those who do not expand their emotional range by experiencing fear, embarrassment and hurt will not have the ability to experience happiness to the fullest.

He who can best enjoy a good belly laugh has also experienced some hurts that twist the gut.

Preparing ourselves best for life as older people means experiencing a full range of activities and emotions along the road.

Everything good gets worse. Everything bad gets better. The pendulum doesn't stop until you're dead.

Enjoy the ride. You only get one ticket.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each person keep their pendulum swinging to its fullest.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Imposing moral standards on others

Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel.
- H.L. Mencken, US writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

I didn't make that up, President Bush. Honest!

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to clarify the line between socially acceptable and socially dangerous.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fear of failure rules and ruins lives

"Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk—and to act."
- Maxwell Maltz

Western societies teach a fear of failure. It begins early in the school systems, if not before that.

Interestingly, while this fear of failure produces a large proportion of law-abiding and relatively peaceful people, it also results in followers who are easily led by people who propose the most preposterous excuses for committing immoral actions.

What Hitler did with Germans and the Japanese military leaders did with Japanese soldiers during the Second World War are the best examples.

Those who take chances, bet on their ideas, or who blow the whistle on law-breakers, have more respect for themselves than they do for those around them.

Bravo! for the risk-takers, for they know they can rebuild after failure. Those who do not take risks never look beyond the possibility of failure.

This raises an intersting question to which I do not have an answer. Do some people not think of death as the ultimate failure or the ultimate betrayal?

As absurd as this sounds, the behaviour of some people when a loved one dies cannot be accounted for in any other obvious way.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show everyone that there is life after failure. It can be a good life.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The struggle between knowledge and ignorance

Knowing ignorance is strength; ignoring knowledge is sickness.
- Lao-Tzu, philosopher (6th century BCE)

Lao-Tzu (who wrote extensively about contemporary conditions in the Middle Kingdom--China--but is little known in the West) made these pronouncements 26 centuries ago, yet we ignore them even today.

They explain what is at the heart of Turning It Around and the TIA movement.

In the 21st century, we have too many people who ignore knowledge (simply turn away from opportunities to learn), but they complain bitterly about the conditions of their lives. Conditions that result from their own ignorance and the power over their own destinies that they give away as a consequence.

We don't have to be experts at a lot of things. We need to know just enough about a lot of subjects, at least enough to know where to learn more when we need it.

We need, for our own benefits, to be experts on one or two subjects so that others will be prepared to ask us in return for the information they share with us.

They will be less likely to give knowledge to us if we don't have something to share with them.

A subject about which we should have expertise is not "How much money can I accumulate over my working life?" We need to survive, but accumulating huge amounts of wealth requires sacrifices that make lives poor in many other ways.

Knowledge is a form of wealth that grows when it is shared.

Ignorance is a form of poverty that makes a life smaller unless it is overcome.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to demonstrate the benefits of knowledge and the harm of ignorance.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, January 16, 2006

Has dishonesty become a way of life?

"If thou art a master, be sometimes blind; if a servant, sometimes deaf."
- Thomas Fuller

Good advice, if you are prepared to accept that the world is basically dishonest.

What if it isn't? What if the world is basically honest, but a relatively small number of dishonest people give us the impression that the world is not honest?

Sometimes people accept dishonesty because they believe the choice is simple, honestly would be brutal and destructive while accepting dishonesty would be quiet and non-distruptive.

The world is only black and white if you choose to see it that way. There are alternatives to confrontation when situations of dishonesty arise in our lives.

Sometimes people just need to have the advantages of the honest path pointed out to them. They may not be able to see the honest path because everyone is looking the other way.

No matter what way others are looking, it doesn't mean that is the best direction to go. They might be wrong.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the peaceful middle ground between brutal honesty and brutal dishonesty.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Why me? Why not others?

In our more introspective and troubled moments, we are apt to think about our current problems and wonder, "Why me?" Why, we want to know, should such seemingly unreasonable things happen to us, especially when they don't happen to others?

Why not you?

We tend to avoid sharing our more troubled times and thoughts with others, mostly because we know that we don't want to listen to others drone on about their problems.

They do have problems. Many have problems far worse than our own. They don't talk about theirs just as you seldom talk about yours.

When I think back over my own life, I wonder how I managed to survive with unusual disabilities and problems right from birth. My own sister, who had parental support from birth, barely managed to survive a decade past the deaths of our parents.

I try to look up, to look ahead. My sister always looked down, focussing on her own problems while ignoring those of anyone else.

Maybe the survivors are those who simply won't quit. They always look ahead and hope that things will get better.

Perhaps they have the fortitude to make changes in their lives that allow them to build on what they have, rather than to allow inertia to wear it away.

The wisest among us has survived the most, often building on the ashes of their own past.

May you be blessed with the phoenix within when you need it most.

You survived everything that life has thrown at you. You have built when the world crumbled around you.

You are an example for others to follow.

Act like a role model. Others need your example.

Bill Allin

The essence of democracy

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Democracy is a concept, not a characteristic we are born with. So it must be taught or people will not understand it.

Democracy has many faults, and leaders of democratic countries frequently find new ones. though it is flawed in many ways, the best claim for democracy is that it is not as bad as every other form of government.

Democracy requires not just legislation to enact it, but an attitude toward equality and a certain amount of general education of every citizen for it to work.

Perhaps the greatest fault of every other form of government is that they all depend on ignorance by their citizens. They cannot exist without ignorance on a grand scale.

As ignorance is the greatest impediment to the progress of humanity, one must conclude reasonably that the form of government that requires the most education is best.

If democracy depends on education of its citizens, it is the obligation of educated members of democracies to ensure that each child receives a sufficient opportunity to become educated.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to ensure equality of opportunity for education through democratic means.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Can dreams tell you anything about yourself?

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
- Edgar Allan Poe, 'Eleanora,' 1842

Night dreaming is random, prompted by a brain that seeks excitement or tranquility, depending on what conditions it experiences by day.

Night dreams tend to go counter to the brain's day experiences.

Day dreaming can be focussed, whereas night dreaming happens entirely by chance. Day dreaming, while it may take longer than night dreaming, could produce grander results because it considers greater possibilities.

There is nothing to fear from night dreams. They are nothing more than the brain's desire for exercise (or rest) in ways it doesn't experience by day.

Like stretching the muscles, night dreams stretch the brain's abilities so that it doesn't atrophy from too little use or suffer from abuse.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put night dreams in perspective and to encourage imaginative day dreaming.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, January 13, 2006

Forced respect builds resentment

Those who insist on the dignity of their office show they have not deserved it.
- Baltasar Gracian, philosopher and writer (1601-1658)

There are two kinds of respect: that which is earned and that which is imposed.

The kind of respect that is imposed on others by virtue of force or position grows resentment among those who must adhere to a special kind of treatment for another who believes himself to be superior.

A leader can be effective by earning respect from those he leads, treating them as equals, at least so far as each situation allows.

Those who would earn the respect of others must first show their respect for the others.

Respect must work two ways in order to be earned.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show people how to earn respect by giving it.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Worry, or not--who does it?

Worry is a one-way use of emotional energy--wasted energy, always going out. Those who worry spend their emotion on people and things that are important to themselves. Those whose main focus is helping others don’t worry about themselves. They somehow know that things will work out for them.

Bill Allin

Prejudice is accepting one argument while ignoring all others

"We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

In order for us to have opinions that are worth investing our attention in, we need to be able to evaluate facts and opinions from all points along a spectrum of any given subject. This includes those opinions with which we will eventually disagree and those we will embrace.

Without opinions from all sides of an issue, we have no valid way to evaluate any opinion we might form ourselves. We need points of comparison in order to properly settle on an opinion of our own.

We need only to look at what suicide bombers and fundamentalist militants are doing around the world to see extreme examples of opinions based on facts and opinions from only one side of an issue.

These people only accept facts and opinions from those who support their opinion, support them and support their causes and belief set, while rejecting anything that opposes their point of view without consideration.

The fact that they have not reached valid opinions matters little to them. They have transformed their opinions into beliefs, which they hold dear enough that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives and those of others to support.

Accepting one side of an argument without considering others is a characteristic of ignorant people, people who have not been educated to learn more than a single point of view before adopting one for themselves.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help everyone to search for all sides of an argument before supporting any one side.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fear is the devil in human form

"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed."
- Michael Pritchard

With apologies for the bad pun, fear is the worst social problem that TIA could ever address. Most of us live our lives under the shadow of fear, that something unknown will strike us and destroy our lives.

Fear involves the unknown. If the risk is known, we would call it apprehension or caution, something whose dimensions are within our understanding.

Fear is the playground in which our imaginations run wild, and run amok.

In most cases of fear, the cause is not worthy of the destruction the fear perpetrates.

Fear can be turned off like a tap, if we know how. It's simply a matter of saying "I am not afraid of what will happen because of this." Easier said (or written) than done? Yes. Because we often turn our fears into beliefs that we have trouble shaking. Beliefs are embedded into the fibre of our being.

There is nothing positive about fear. Yet it's an emotion we impose on ourselves. It may be prompted by others, even encouraged by others. But others don't force us to accept fear.

Only we do that to ourselves.

We can change. Turning It Around will teach everyone how to do that.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put fear in perspective so that we can all lead more peaceful lives.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How do we know if a life choice is right for us?

"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness."
- Shakti Gawain

Some call it conscience. Others intuition or gut instinct. A few claim that it's the Spirit guiding them.

Any way you think of it, following a path that does not fill you with inspiration and positive energy makes you feel less of a person than you could be.

The old saying "Opportunity only knocks once" only partially applies here. This also refers to any choice that is morally or legally wrong.

Unless your choice is something that is based on an obsession, following your inner guide is the best life choice to make.

Your choice should make you feel good. If that's not possible, at least it shouldn't make you feel bad or dirty.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people make wise choices they won't regret later.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, January 09, 2006

Setting yourself up for spit

Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.
- Stephen Swid, executive

Money is a commodity that will come and go for each peson, but will be around forever. You only have one opportunity to spend each minute of your time.

Those who devote their working lives to accumulating a great deal of money and material wealth generally invest their time and efforts unwisely in terms of their health when they are old enough to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Some don't live long enough to enjoy what they sacrificed so much to earn.

Working to accumulate wealth is an industrial model of society. That is, the objective is to die with as much wealth as possible. However, industries don't die.

The industrial model may work for publicly traded companies in capitalist countries, but it fails individuals badly when they adopt it for their own lives.

Dying rich means leaving material wealth to those who did little or nothing to earn it, and who likely will not appreciate it.

A wise investment of time brings much greater rewards to the living than a wise investment of cash. The industrial model doesn't work that way. The industrial model will use up a life and spit it out without a twang of conscience. Buying into it as a personal model for life means setting yourself up for spit.

You have a choice. Live your life to make your bank rich or live it to make your own and the lives of others you touch wealthy by making them rich in real values, personal values that matter to you and those who will follow you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put life in pespective. Wealth is how you spend your time, not how you make your money.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Why people don't vote--politicians are to blame

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
- Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States (1911-2003)

Each time there is an election in a democratic country (at least in the western world), those interested in politics wonder why more people don't vote and how they can be persuaded to vote.

It's as if by voting people will have validated the democratic process, which is not embraced in many other parts of the world.

There are two main reasons why people don't vote. First is that they don't know enough about the candidates or the issues to hazard an opinion on a ballot.

Second is that they are uncomfortable about electing people with whom they are not comfortable--they view politicians as essentially dishonest or at least more concerned about their own best interests than those of their constituents. When they think about politics, they want to take a shower to clean themselves from the foul experience.

The first reason--lack of knowledge and familiarity with the issues and candidates--is easy to rectify, but no one wants to solve the problem. There is no one place where people can go to learn facts, instead of having to sort through trash bins of hyperbole and propaganda in the usual sources. 'Turning It Around' makes a provision for this in a way that owuld cost almost nothing.

People remain ignorant about political issues because information is not readily available in a non-partisan form. TIA has a way to make the information available in a way that will be embraced by everyone.

As for the second reason why people don't vote--they don't care to be associated with what they consider to be dishonest people--this can be solved the same way as the first. When people know more about how their lives are being affected by decisions their government representatives make, they will make sure that people they believe to be honest are on the ballot.

Ignorance of the issues and dislike of politicians in general are really two sides of the same coin.

The real problem is not that people don't care enough to vote. The real problem is that they know they don't know enough to make a reasonable decision or they don't know a candidate they know they can trust to make honst decisions.

No one benefits by ignorance by the public. Except maybe present politicians who got where they are because too many people stayed home on election day.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to provide knowledge for those who don't care about politics and who have become comfortable with their own ignorance.
Learn more at http;//billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, January 07, 2006

To exploit human misery or to aleviate it

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
- Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat and writer (1884-1962)

When most people see others living in miserable conditions, their reaction is to do nothing (they deserve their fate or I can't bear to think about it), to take advantage of it (I can make money here by exploiting labour or resources) or to fight it (I can gain power over these people).

The number of people who will work to change the conditions in which people live in misery by helping them up are few, and powerful people work to ensure that those few remain relatively powerless.

It's a mark of the progress of human civilization to help others because it's the right thing to do. TIA wants to do that.

Many powerless people working together can easily overcome the forces that work against the progress of civilization. We don't have to do much individually to have a formidable effect collectively.

Step one is to read Turning It Around. Step two is to join the TIA group. After that, each succeeding step is easier and even less time consuming.

Please help others to take the first step.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each person take those first few precious steps.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, January 06, 2006

Can you believe scientific studies?

If you torture data sufficiently, it will confess to almost anything.
- Fred Menger, chemistry professor (1937- )

This ugly fact of life presents a problem for us because it means that we can't believe everything we hear or read that is supposedly based on scientifically sound studies.

As evidence, look at the debates that have gone on over the past couple of decades over the value of taking certain vitamin supplements. Different readers interpret the results of any one study differently.

Maybe we need an agency of government (preferably one that is free of corruption--if that's possible) that could evaluate studies that are made public to determine which are of value and what should be taken as valid evidence from each.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help us determine the difference between fact and truth.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Our leaders teach us the wrong values--we let them

"What one skill, if you developed it, could have the greatest positive impact on your career? This is the key to your future."
- Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is a well respected guru about how to succeed in business. He epitomizes the emphasis that the education systems of most countries place on what is important in life.

Yet we have people who happily blow themselves up while killing others in the explosion, who take illegal drugs to the point their minds are altered and their futures destroyed, who murder their own families and kill themselves, who indulge in various addictive activities, who refuse to vote for their democratically elected government representatives, who are unable to hold a marriage together, who have little idea how to raise children, who drive the biggest gas-guzzling, air-polluting SUVs they can afford, and so on.

They do, however, know how to succeed in business.

When education systems work on an industrial model where work success is the objective rather than life success, we are bound to have lots of people with messed up minds and messed up lives, who in turn raise children with messed up minds and lives.

I am not the only person who believes we should be using our education systems to stress quality of life and life skills. However, I am one person who has written a book that can make the change happen, realistically, simply and cheaply.

I need your help to spread the word. One person can change the world, but only with lots of support.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to fix the world our industrial leaders have screwed up for us and our political and education leaders have allowed to happen.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Life lessons most of us miss

"There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life."
- Sister Mary Rose McGeady, Daughter of Charity

Those who have made a fundamental difference in someone's life and have felt the joy and reward will testify to the truth of Sister McGeady's statement.

Those who have not may scoff at it. It's easy to deride something you know nothing about.

Let's do this simple arithmetic. People learn most of the fundamentals of who they are when they are young children (less than 11 years). One of the greatest joys and rewards of life is helping others. Ergo: we should teach this simple fact to all children so that they may enjoy the rewards as they get old enough to help others.

We assume that, somehow, our children are learning this lesson, as we assume our children learn many lessons about adult life. Many (maybe most) are not learning these lessons.

We need to teach these important life lessons to children before we have societies filled with paranoid psychotics and antisocial egotists.

The lessons are simple and easy to teach. We don't do it because we assume that someone else is doing it for us.

No one does it for us.

No one.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help everyone learn the basics of what we need to teach to children.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Courage without conscience is a wild beast

Courage without conscience is a wild beast.
- Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator (1833-1899)

Doing any act without conscience is fundamentally antisocial. It means doing it without regard for others that may be harmed in the process.

Doing acts that require courage without the balance of conscience is what many would call madness.

Some may call it "carefree" or "youthful vigor" but in older people it's madness. Society puts people in prison or mental hospitals for it.

And yet, we are not born with conscience. We learn it, or not, as children. Most kids learn it within the first five years of their lives--before they begin school.

It makes sense for us to teach lessons about matters of conscience to young children in the first few years of school to ensure that they don't exhibit "courage without conscience" as adults.

It would cost nothing and save us huge amounts in taxes and other forms of personal loss later.

It's the TIA way.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to prepare children to become sane, loving and productive adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, January 02, 2006

How do we know if a leader is responsible?

"The price of greatness is responsibility."
- Sir Winston Churchill

While most of us would find it difficult to disagree with Churchill's statement, it has an important weakness.

All powerful people, especially political and religious leaders, rationalize what they do in terms of taking responsibility--for their people, for their religion, for their personal safety or even for the welfare of the world.

God, for example, has been cited as the reason why most countries have gone to war over the past 2000 years. In the Second World War, both the Allies and the Axis countries gave directions from God as reasons for their participating.

What is necessary to make Churchill's statement more valuable is for the people of a country to define--themselves--what a responsible leader would do. And they must do it before such a leader takes power or that leader will define it in his own self-benefitting way and use propaganda techniques to prove himself correct.

What is "responsibility?"

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to encourage everyone to decide for themselves what responsibility means and how to know if someone has accepted it.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ways we harm ourselves

Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever.
- Lord Chesterfield, statesman and writer (1694-1773)

The main difference between "wrongs" and "contempt" in this quotation is intent.

Wrongs are done with no intent to hurt others or with little thought given to hurting others.

With contempt, there is no pretence of innocence. If any consequence were to befall anyone, the person with contempt intends that it happen to the person for whom he has contempt.

Though one may dislike another without taking any action which could hurt the other or even make the other aware of the dislike, with contempt and hatred there are always some negative actions toward the person for whom one has contempt.

As with hatred, contempt that is never forgiven or forgotten does more harm to the person who holds it than the others. A look at the Middle East today will quickly show several examples where hatred and contempt harm those who have these strong emotions.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to release each soul from its self-imposed burdens.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl