Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How can you recognize beauty?

What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn!
- Logan Pearsall Smith, essayist (1865-1946)

The concept of beauty is as mysterious and elusive as that of love. Smith saw beauty in the rising of the morning sun. Others see it in flowers, in the sight of their children at play or in the eyes of their loved one.

Beauty is also as difficult to pin down as taste. Both are learned, for the most part. Yes, we learn what is beautiful by listening to others. Smith was trying to teach others that dawn is beautiful, for example. (Taste is also learned, as we may see by differences in food and beverage preferences among various peoples of the world.)

The important thing might not be to see dawn, but to see some form of beauty and to give ourselves the opportunity to appreciate it frequently.

Beauty is one of the treasures of life. And it's free. It's something not to be missed by anyone. And it's available to everyone.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each of us recognize beauty in our lives, no matter where we live or under what conditions.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, February 27, 2006

You probably will be like one of your parents

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked
it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.
- John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

People today travel much farther in their lives than they did in Muir's day. But do they travel farther in their spiritual or emotional lives than their forebears?

Most of us discover as we get older that we become more and more like one of our parents, or like a grandparent or whoever influenced us greatly in our early years. Some of us find this surprising.

We shouldn't. We're programmed to replicate closely a person who influenced us during our early years, even if we conflicted with that person frequently.

Breaking away from that programming can be done, but only with strict self discipline and commitment to being different. If our early childhood experience was bad, we can learn what we lacked and give it to our own children so that they (and we) will have better lives.

One important point is that we must teach to those who follow us what we have learned. Otherwise those who follow will have to learn the hard way, the same way we did.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help us break the cycle of reinventing the wheel with each succeeding generation.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is animal slavery better than death?

We all love animals. Why do we call some "pets" and others "dinner?"
- k.d. lang, singer (1961- )

Lang, with one of the most charming voices in music today, is clearly an animal rights activist. And a vegetarian.

By equating "pets" with animals whose meat is consumed as food, she uses a form of propaganda whose purpose is to swing the unaware to her point of view. Not entirely bad, in principle, as that is what all advertising does.

Her argument is emotional, but not logical. She wants us to believe that "pets" equals good and "dinner" (killing animals for food) equals bad.

Her reasoning makes no room for others to point out that pets we call animals are more like prisoners or slaves than friends who are kept in their most natural state and environment.

Animals that have been bred for food have been hybridized to the point that they are little more than mannequins that manufacture food. Intelligence has been bred out of them. They could not possibly fend for themselves in the wild as their ancient forebears did.

Perhaps a more reasonable (though disconcerting) question to ask would be: Is it better to be a slave owner or a mannequin killer?

Humans are built, by nature, to have the ability to chew and digest meat, though we cannot digest most forms of plants that traditional working animals eat. Should we need animal pets for company?

Study of why city dwellers keep pets would reveal that in pets they receive what they cannot receive from their fellow humans. Mostly attention and touching.

We should be teaching each other how to satisfy our basic needs rather than debating difference between animal slavery and death.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put life in perspective for those who have been blinded by social convention.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, February 25, 2006

We are taught to be puppets

Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies
of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and philosopher (1772-1834)

Language is both a defensive and an offensive weapon in the possession of someone who knows how to use it.

It can get someone into something they desire to be a part of and out of something they wish to avoid.

Language can ease the pain of being dismissed from a job, help to manage the transition from married to "formerly married", or it can crush the spirit of someone who fails to provide quite the level of service an insensitive customer requires. Language is a doubled-edged sword.

And yet, we do not teach the use of language as a tool for accomplishing things. We teach young people how to write quickly forgotten college papers, how to kill an enemy in war, how to succeed in business by putting career ahead of family and how to reduce whatever disposable income one may have by buying objects or personal items that are entirely unnecessary.

In other words, we teach people how to be manipulated as objects, but not how to think for themselves, defend themselves with words and achieve what they desire through peaceful means.

This won't change unless TIA supporters do something about it.

If you are happy with the world as you see it today, then you have no reason to want it to change. If you can see room for imporvement, then take the only route that is possible to make change. Help us to turn it around.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show you that change is possible, but only through one way.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, February 24, 2006

Desire for stagnation means being old too soon

"Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth."
- Joseph Joubert

Loving themselves is an interesting variation on having an excess of pride in themselves.

Not changing your opinion means that you are not open to changing circumstances, including uncovering of new knowledge or changing of environmental conditions.

It means "being old" no matter what your age.

Ironically, politicians and the media love to sink their teeth into political leaders or elected representatives who change their positions on issues. They act as if nothing ever should change or that a politician should always make the right choice of position on an issue despite the evidence that might point in a different direction before new facts come to light.

Change is a fact of life. Resisting change is a sign of decay.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to bring to light the need for acceptance of change rather than of stagnation.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Politics matters to you

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."
- Eugene McCarthy

Despite what our media would have us believe, the lives of ordinary citizens of the United States, China, Morocco or Finland are affected very little by the day to day operations of their governments, no matter who is in charge.

A government can only nudge its people a tiny bit on one direction or another. Rarely can it make a major difference in anyone's life unless that person does something to make him outstanding as a risk. People will not behave differently from the way they want to behave for long, despite what laws may be passed or which leader is in charge.

The people of each country get the kind of government leadership they deserve. The interest they pay in the welfare of their country determines how well their govenrment is run.

When people care more about their own welfare than that of their country or their countrymen on a continual basis, corruption and abuses abound in their government.

Each of us must care for ourselves and our loved ones. But if we don't also care for those who are in our political group (our fellow nationals), we pay a high price.

People care for what they are taught to care for. If they should care about the welfare of their country and their countrymen, this must be taught to children before they reach adolescence. After that their life priorities have been set.

We get what we teach.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help everyone recognize that teaching values to children is critically important.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The world of koi

In a pond koi can reach lengths of eighteen inches. Amazingly, when placed
in a lake, koi can grow to three feet long. The metaphor is obvious. You
are limited by how you see the world.
- Vince Poscente, Olympian (1961- )

Koi, for want of a better description, is like a large goldfish. The size to which it grows depends entirely on food supply and the amount of space it has to swim freely in.

When we see the world, our city, our community, our neighbourhood as a fearsome place, we make our world smaller. People who live in progressively smaller worlds inevitably become bigots because they fear the unknown and not-understood "others."

Those who love others see the world as being a much bigger and much friendlier place.

Those who love have hope, while those who fear sink into despair.

Those who love see the future as a better world, whereas those who fear face the future with mounting dread.

Your world is what you make of it. Not what I or anyone else tells you it is, but what you believe it is. The choice about what your world is like depends entirely on you.

If you can't look past the bad, you will never see the good. The bad always seems closer.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to broaden the horizons of each person within its care.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Reforming our lives

"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."
- Raymond Lindquist

We tend to fear the unknown while embracing what is familiar. This is true even when we know that what is familiar may be wrong or even harmful.

We stay with a religion whose belief set we have bypassed with our own thinking. We remain in the same job because changing might expose us to something risky, or expose our weaknesses to others.

We continue to live in the same neighbourhood because it's the one we know, even if our neighbours are unpleasant people we would prefer not to associate with.

We live with the same mate because separating means new and frightening life possibilities.

Others leave their mates believing that anything different would be better. That may require more intellectual blindness than courage. For a relationship is one factor in our lives that can be reformed.

Reforming a failed relationship, that takes courage. It requires us to let go of the familiar in order to learn new things about the needs of a relationship, the needs of our mate, our own needs that we may not have recognized. A failed relationship cannot be reformed without new learning.

Any kind of new learning requires courage. To accept new information into our lives and process it in order to use it as knowledge that can transform our lives requires courage because we might have to accept that we have been doing some things wrong. Things that have resulted in the failure of the relationship.

Accepting that we have been wrong requires courage as well. However, we can't build our lives without it.

I imagine it like completing each layer of a pyramid. There is comfort in completing a large part of a complex job. Yet it takes courage to launch into another layer.

A pyramid cannot be complete without its pinnacle and we can't reach our own life pinnacle unless we keep doing things that require courage.

Neither a pyramid nor a life may be built in a day. Each requires many small acts of courage. And once in a while it requires a major act of courage.

Courage requires us to let go of the past and do something frightening and new.

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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Self-deception: when money is more important than friends

"To let friendship die away by negligence and silence is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of the weary pilgrimage."
- Samuel Johnson, English writer and lexicographer (1709-1784)

Life is not about continually striving to make more money. Those who believe that money is critical to their happiness are never happy. They use money as a substitute for happiness because they don't know how to find happiness. They have lost their way to happiness.

Life is not about convenience. A happy person doesn't do just what is convenient, because much of what is worthwhile in life, stuff that makes us happy, is not convenient.

Maintaining friendships is often not convenient. "Friends will wait while I am busy with other things" is an attitude that gives evidence that the speaker has lost the value of friendship.

Losing the value of friendship may indicate the loss of the path to happiness. Once lost, we may never find our way back. In our confusion, we substitute other things for happiness, then persuade ourselves that what we now believe is important is really important.

Friends are really important. Maintaining friendships is hard work. It's inconvenient sometimes.

Friends need something from us and often have little to give back. If we aren't prepared to give more than we get, they won't be there for us when we need more than we can give.

Get over it. Get on with it, if life means anything to you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to teach what is really important in life.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Can you turn strangers into friends?

"God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference."
- Anonymous parody of prayer by St. Francis of Assisi

Despite the parody, let's examine the "prayer" for truth. It's not a sacrilege.

We don't need to like everyone. We don't need everyone to like us. Those who try to make everyone like them fail, inevitably.

We need to tolerate and be passably friendly with everyone. However, some people will not respond in kind, no matter how hard we try. So forget them. Pretend they don't exist. Why sweat for people who don't deserve it?

We don't have the good fortune to run into people we do like often enough. We need to stop and take advantage of those times we do. And we need to go out of our way to visit with them when we can. These are people who we would miss if they died, so we shouldn't miss spending time with them when they are alive.

Maybe we don't really need eyesight to tell the difference. Maybe we need the social skills to turn strangers into friends. Such skills are seldom taught, yet they are very important to every one of us. Some never learn them.

Be friendly with people you encounter. Smile and say something nice. When the opportunity arises, do small favours for them. When they realize that you are sincere, they will come around and be friendly.

Remember, some people feel so betrayed by others that they no longer believe that true friendship is possible.

Prove them wrong. It's worth the investment.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to re-establish and teach the skills for making strangers into friends.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You can't buy what is really important in life

Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.
- Viktor Frankl, author, neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor (1905-1997)

Frankl doesn't mean to spend all of your money on things that please you. He means to enjoy your life in ways that give it meaning.

As a Holocaust survivor, Frankl would have a different perspective on life than many of us today. He knew that money meant nothing to those whose lives were swept away by the Nazis.

Friends would have been valuable, but business associates would have meant little unless their support could be bought (not likely if their own lives were at stake).

Family would have been extremely important, as would family friends.

An old song says "The best things in life are free." To some, the best things in life can be bought. To others, anything that can be bought is a mere convenience, something to get us along as we move to more important things.

Those who continuously seek money and what it can buy will never be truly happy because they value objects that merely bolster their defences against a world they don't understand and can't work successfully in. Objects are their fortress against the treasures of real life, goals they know they can never reach.

What is valuable in life cannot be bought with money. It can only be earned with an investment of time and love.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show us what is important in life, not important to industries that want our money.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, February 17, 2006

Does God love killers?

Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from
the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
- Ambrose Bierce, writer (1842-1914) [The Devil's Dictionary]

The greatest failures of any religion are the hubris by which each believes it is the only true way to eternal life at God's side and the intolerance of those of other faiths who hold similar beliefs about theirs.

Did God put us on Earth to squabble over whose religion is best?

Virtually every major religion in the world today has an equivalent of "Thou shalt not kill" as one of its commandments. While each pays lip service to this dictate from its God, not one of them adheres to it strictly.

Given the right conditions, each uses abuses by those of other religions or the inhuman ignorance of atheists or pagans as excuses for violating their own most sacred commandment.

If God is a creator, why would He want killers by his side?

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make clear what the purpose of religion is in a world that has lost track.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, February 16, 2006

You may be a slave without knowing it

"Computer games don't affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music."
- Marcus Brigstocke

The irony of this statement is intended to smack you in the head. If it doesn't then you haven't been paying attention to life around you.

Anything--absolutely anything at all--that impacts your brain from an outside source repeatedly will affect your thinking, perhaps even altering your lifestyle or your view of the value of life itself. The key word there is "repeatedly." Very little will change your life if you hear or read it just once.

This is not the place to string out examples as evidence, but there is an abundance of it to prove that repeated impact of any message on your brain from outside will change your way of thinking.

Let's use (again) the example of Germans supporting the killing of Jews, cripples and the chronically ill during the Nazi period--something that would be unnatural in more normal circumstances--to show that propaganda alters thinking. Propaganda chief Goebbels knew what he was doing and he effectively made acts of horror the norm in Hitler's Germany.

Whether it be video games, television programs, movies, newspaper editorials disguised as news, opinions from radio DJs or lectures from a pulpit, your mind and your way of thinking and living your life may be altered if you are not prepared to cope with an onslaught of opinion that may not jive with the way you have chosen to live your life.

Children need to be taught this or their minds will be twisted without their parents being aware of it. They need to be taught that others want to make them emotional slaves to their political, religious or commercial benefit.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help parents and communities grow emotionally and psychologically healthy children.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bigots are bullies who use words, not fists

"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo."
- H. G. Wells

Political correctness is prejudice in a tuxedo.

Those who judge others have some motivation for doing so. Mostly, their motive is to prove to themselves that they are better than those they criticize. For underneath their arrogant presentation is a severe weakness, a belief that they are not worthy.

They gain a following because they repeat their accusations frequently, not because they are correct. Others may be more interested in the easy route of following someone who will lead them rather than investigating whether the leader is worth following.

Truth is never at risk when such people are at work because they never get close enough to the truth for it to matter.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to give bigots enough self confidence that they will not need to denigrate others to make themselves feel better.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Religions are committing suicide

A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
- Arthur C Clarke, science fiction writer (1917- )

The proper response to such a strong opinion is that truth is nothing more than someone's opinion dressed in formal robes.

However, Clark's point is that when a religion retreats into a position of denial as it is faced with newly revealed facts, it damages its own reputation, likely beyond repair.

When we think of the word "dogma" we associate it with firmly held, maybe irrefutable, religious teaching. Most religions, other than modern humanist varieties, were founded in ancient times, based on many sources, over a long period of time and given the limitations of the respective authors of their holy books.

For a religion to claim that its holy books are the words of God, despite modern revelations that some of the facts within them are inaccurate or just plain personal opinion, makes at least some people doubt the value of the religion.

Faith is a marvellous and powerful thing. But when a religion claims that its followers must have faith in "the word of God" when evidence points to something different, it's time for the religion to change or for a reformed religion to arise.

We humans are still dreadfully ignorant about the world around us, even about ourselves. When we claim to be knowledgeable because our opinions come directly from God, we poison the drinking water, spoiling the way in which every one of us understands life.

Religion must accommodate provable facts or it is nothing better than the wishful thinking of those who would hold power over us.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to have religion prove it has a place in our lives by embracing truth.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, February 13, 2006

Who controls, mind or heart?

Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.
- Mohandas K. (“The Mahatma”) Gandhi (1869-1948)

In general, "culture" means how some people do something or many things they do in common.

What's right in the mind may not be best if matters of the heart are considered.

Any movement of what has become known as ethnic cleansing (including that of Hitler who killed those with disease, physical handicaps and mental illness or low intelligence) may be rationalized in the mind as being good for the people of one particular cultural group.

Yet most people of other cultures believe ethnic cleansing is wrong.

It wasn't wrong in Hitler's Germany. But one day after the end of the Second World War, not a single Nazi could be found in Germany.

Both minds and hearts may be manipulated by others. That's why we must be vigilant to ensure that both are considered when any important decisions are made. Manipulators can seldom control both.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social problems,' striving to put the mind in touch with the heart.
Learn more at http;//billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Make your employer rich, yourself poor

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
- J.D. Salinger, writer (1919- )

It's unfortunate that more people will never experience the sensation that Salinger had.

In Canada, a modern post-industrial nation of fairly well educated people, only six percent of its citizens read more than three books per year. This percentage is even high compared to citizens of other G8 nations.

Each adult must make a choice about whether to devote himself to improving himself or to improving the lot of his employer. Most people in industrial and post-industrial nations choose to work toward improving the lot of their employer, but give lip service to improving the welfare of their families. Some work longer hours, some watch more television, but they don't read to improve themselves.

The welfare of a family is not improved significantly by the breadwinner making more more money if it means that the working person spends less time building a sound and healthy family life.

People in Western societies work hard to make their employers successful because they are taught that financial and business successes are the prime components for life success. They don't know any other ways to improve their own lives because they aren't taught any. They don't read to find any themselves.

TIA believes that each person should know how to improve their own life and how to make the lives of their family members better, with the family being more cohesive and mutually supportive. To that end, the book provides guides for teachers and parents as to how to accomplish this.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to give each person the tools to improve their own life.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What do you do with your experience?

"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him."
- Aldous Huxley

Everyone has a right to make mistakes. Everyone has a right to make the same mistakes repeatedly.

However, society tends to take a dim view of the wisdom of someone who makes the same mistake more than once or twice.

In many cases, the wisdom of a person who makes a mistake can reasonably be questioned when they were warned against doing something beforehand or when they had the opportunity to learn what they needed to know before following a particular course of action.

Behind their backs, others think of these people as being either stupid or arrogant (only rich people can afford the luxury of being called arrogant, the rest of us are simply stupid).

It's not necessary to grope through life doing everything based on trial and error. We can learn what we need before we act. But if we do act and make a mistake in doing so, we should learn from our mistake and avoid it in future.

Wiser folks among us will try to teach younger people what they have learned. Those who do not, show that they really have not learned a most important lesson of life.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people turn their experience into wisdom worth sharing.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, February 10, 2006

Use someone else's anger to your own advantage

"Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry."
- Henry Ward Beecher

What someone says to you when they are angry is an honest expression of deeply felt emotions. These are always bad. That is, they are negative.

To never forget such matters means that they may be used as ways to improve yourself, not that they should be taken as unshakable daggers to your heart.

When angry, someone who cares about you will tell you things they truly believe you should change in order for people to like you better and accept you more. Use them as guides.

Do not transform these ploughshares into weapons to use against someone who has spoken from the heart.

These people usually care about you more than any others, even if it seems they do not. Even an enemy cares about you much more than most casual acquaintances.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to bring rainbows out of a cloudy day.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A little nudge will get you there

"As a young man I was pretty dark and pessimistic, but I made myself change, as it became more and more clear to me that in life you get exactly what you expect, so you might as well expect something good."
- Eolake Stobblehouse

Stobblehouse, a Danish artist, did not use a strong enough word with "expect." The idea was correct.

An expectation is a concept of the present, one that may easily be changed to suit changing conditions.

What needs to be positive is our attitude. And we need to have a clear idea of what direction we want to go in our lives.

Attitude is a long term concept, one to which each of us is committed, whether we like it or not. We need to know where we want to go, to have goals and objectives, or we will never reach situations we want. Attitude gives us commitment, while goals give us direction.

On any given day, we can't do much to change our life. However, a collection of hundreds of small nudges in the direction we want to go will move us along faster and more effectively than all the wishes in the world. Each day gives us an opportunity to nudge ourselves along a little.

Others may not notice the subtle changes in us, in our lives, because they happen slowly. So they will accept change with little resistence, unless it is in their bests interests to keep you oppressed. In the latter case, we need a major change.

The important factor is a positive attitude. Life is frightening and depressing if we allow everything around us to impact us without any positive movement toward change on our part.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to give each person the incentive to nudge forward toward positive goals each day.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is life nothing but a dream? Maybe

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.
- Thomas Mann, novelist, Nobel laureate (1875-1955)

Time is a human invention. The truth is that we don't know if time really exists.

In fact, we don't know if anything really exists. Each of us might be energy bundles that create their own "world" from time to time for their own amusement.

While this sounds crazy, there is good reason to believe it given the evidence. So many things about life don't make sense, do they? Could there be such immaculate creation around us, then such a vast amount of nonsense in our daily lives?

We search for meaning in life, yet it remains a mystery. Maybe the meaning of our existence is nothing more than for the amusement of our spirits (souls or essential energy). We all know people who live in such ways as to harm themselves and limit their potential. That doesn't make sense.

We also know of the massive human slaughter that happens needlessly each year (each day!) and wonder how it could happen when every culture in the world has social rules against killing each other.

Perhaps your life today is nothing more than a dream created to amuse your spirit for a short period of time. Maybe history (yours and everyone's) is nothing more than a component of that dream. Possibly people don't worry much about the future because they know that the next day they can create a different dream.

Nature conserves energy and mass (which is really only a singular conglomeration of energy "particles"--see Einstein). When we die, we rejoin the energy cycle, either as another form of mass (the Food Chain) or as pure energy again.

When we see what tragedy exists around the world yet make no effort to improve conditions, that may be because we don't care about that part of our dream.

Don't believe me? Then help me to improve the tragedy around the world.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to reveal the secrets of life so we can make sense of it.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The secret talents within each of us

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes."
- Horace, Roman lyric poet said to have influenced English poetry (65-8 BC)

An important lesson in life is to ignore most of the sayings about "the greatest" of anything. They never are, but they manage to get attention for the speaker/writer at the time.

Fools are right sometimes. Not because they are fools or because the odds favour everyone being right at least some of the time.

Fools (in the case of Horace who live two millennia ago) , what we might call people of lower intelligence today, also have intelligence. In many cases, a person considered to have low intelligence may be as good as anyone in his community (maybe better) at some things. These are not savants, but simple folk.

The human brain is complex. While it may not work well for some people to function at the level of a majority of people in many aspects of life, it may be superior in some respects.

We would do well to find what is superior in the minds and bodies of each person we know and encourage them to make good use of these talents. The Special Olympics is one example of what apparently unequal people can accomplish.

Every one of us can excel at something. We have trouble finding that for ourselves, but not so much finding it in others. If we help each other, we all get better.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to stress the talents and skills of those less privileged.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Monday, February 06, 2006

Too close to the edge

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
- Lois McMaster Bujold

While I like the idea of this quote, I disagree with its wording.

Reputation is what people *believe* about you. That may or may not bear close resemblance to the truth. What they think they know about you may be wrong.

What they believe is influenced by many factors, including selective experiences others have had with you, lies they may tell about you, snippets of information about you on which grand generalizations have been created and even false impressions you have purposely left with them.

Honour is itself a false concept based mostly on whatever amount of pride you take in some of your characteristics or in what others think of you. What is honour to one person may be nothing more than false pride to another.

Integrity is what tells who you really are. You may believe what you want about yourself, but your integrity will tell how close the life you live is to the core beliefs on which you were raised.

When you know you are doing something that is wrong (no matter what your excuses for doing so), you separate yourself from the values you were taught as a child, the values that most people in your own culture and community hold dear.

Eventually, that separatation will show itself as alienation, where most of your community rejects who you are because of what you do or say.

You may run from the basic beliefs of what is good and right among your people, but you can't hide from yourself. Eventually, you won't be able to hide from others either.

Short term indescretions often extend into long term grief.

Teach that to your children so they don't follow the tragic paths they see others taking.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to shine a light on what is good and right so that we don't stumble around in the darkness.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Internet junkies

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a
complete substitute for life.
- Andrew Brown

Most of us will read that and think how pitiful the lives of some people must be that they spend all of their free time on the internet instead of having a real life elsewhere.

However, who are we to determine how anyone else should spend their life? We have neither the right nor the privilege to do so.

Many of the people who judge others have lives that the others would consider wasteful or very restrictive. Should those who have made questionable life choices judge others?

Most people who judge others have themselves made poor life choices and want to make themselves feel better by putting someone else down.

An internet junkie has made a life choice that might be more fulfilling for himself than the lifestyle he previously had.

It may not be perfect, but neither are the choices we have made.

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

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Education should teach us limits and detours

"To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Though I have never met anyone who was pleased with their personal limits, I have met many who simply accepted them. Many more who had no idea what their limits were.

People gladly and enthusiastically fight for freedom when a charismatic leader urges them in that direction. Yet most people don't even sense that they are losing their freedoms (gaining tighter limits) if the change happens slowly enough and sufficient rationale is given to satisfy the noisy ones.

The only way we can know if we are losing our freedoms is for these to be taught to us as children. We should also be taught what freedoms others have, or lack thereof, so we have some means of comparison.

When it comes to our own personal limitations, most people don't know what theirs are. They assume they don't have any and proceed as if the road to glory is paved with gold, only littered slightly by others who have the annoying habit of getting in our way.

We must give opportunities to children to learn what their limitations are so they will have the chance to overcome them. A person whose legs don't work knows what lies ahead in terms of getting around without the use of legs.

A person who has trouble reading because of a characteristic within their own brain should have the same advantage. Otherwise we label such a person as "slow," thus condemning that person forever to treating a road block as a prison, without pointing to a detour around it.

We each have limitations within our own brain. Our education systems, our religions and our family orientations are not designed to identify these limitations. This explains why we seem to have so many stupid people among us.

Stupid people have accepted their limitations, and generally ignore them.

Education systems could easily be changed to accommodate this new objective of identifying personal limitations are helping to work around them.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to eliminate stupid people by teaching them about detours before they imprison themselves.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Friday, February 03, 2006

No point in being reasonable

"I tried being reasonable. I didn't like it."
- Clint Eastwood, US actor and politician

The trouble with being reasonable is either that no one recognizes your effort or others see you as gullible or an easy mark.

"Reasonable" is no longer just "doing or thinking things that fall within the socially acceptable norms of the community."

Now what is reasonable is judged not by social norms but by the standards of the individual who uses them. Have ten people judge the same behaviour or the same object or written work and you will receive ten different replies and explanations as to whether or not it is reasonable.

There is no longer any point in being reasonable, as some people simply will not accept it anyway. They will not be reasonable themselves, or even with themselves, so they will not be reasonable with you.

The best you can hope to do is to sound out people whose views may differ from yours first, then tailor your words or actions to suit what they will not likely object to.

Unless your intention is to be different. Those who plan to be different are either admired or hated, usually both. Sometimes both by the same people.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people survive an unreasonable world in reasonable ways.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Treason or searching for truth?

Where it is a duty to worship the sun, it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.
- John Morley, statesman and writer (1838-1923

The key word in this quote is "duty." That implies that someone is telling someone else (usually a whole community or country) what to do or how to do something.

As with the military, those giving the orders do not want their orders or their motives to be examined by those who are directed to follow them.

Thus it becomes a crime to examine motives or details about orders of the leaders. Call it treason or lack of patriotism to one's country.

Or call it "unAmerican."

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people find the facts behind the power.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sheep to the slaughter

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
- John F. Kennedy, 35th US president (1917-1963)

Opinion should be the resulting effect of the cause of considerable thought and research.

The research does not need to be done just in a library or even on the internet. It must come from a variety of sources, preferably sources that differ in their viewpoints on a given subject.

This part is simple. Those who do not endure the discomfort of thought and research on a given subject are not entitled to an opinion about what should be done about it.

Those who do not have an opinion on a subject are merely sheep who must follow the wills and whims of others who care enough about it to do the necessary research and thinking.

You are entitled to be a sheep, to be led where others want you to go. You are also entitled to learn enough to express an opinion and to be heard.

You are not entitled to receive the benefits of informed thought and its resulting actions if you are not prepared to do the work to play a role in your own future.

Man! that's ugly. Sometimes reality sucks.

Get over it. Life is hard work. There is no easy road, except to the slaughter.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to clarify the ugly realities of life so that we may all make our way through them rather than get bogged down within them.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl