Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Learn how to approach today's adventure

"Finish each day and be done with it... You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as
you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you should begin it well and serenely."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would put it differently. When you go to bed at night, forget the day before even happened. The good things in it will linger and give you pleasant sleep anyway. The bad things are best left in the history in which they happened.

Tomorrow is not just a new day. It's a new life. Anything in your memory (and that's all yesterday is) deserves to be forgotten until it can be revived with the benefit of filtering mechanisms applied to long term memory, thus producing "the good old days."

Nothing you can do will change what happened in your past. You can do things today that will affect your future, but even those will be mediated by events which cannot be foreseen.

Live today as if it's the only life you will have.

Do I mean to live in an existentialist way, in a hedonistic style? No, because you still have to account for your actions when you lie your head on your pillow. No head rests easy on a pillow when the previous day involved deception.

No matter what you may have heard.

You have to learn what "today" is all about before you can live it fully and beneficially. That requires experience and learning. Today is a mystery, whether a pleasant adventure, a comedy or a tragedy. You have to learn how to be an adventurer before you can adventure successfully. It doesn't happen by accident any more than anything else in life.

Only the wise adventurer can make the most of any new venture. The wise adventurer has learned from past ventures. The wise adventurer know how to approach each new daily adventure.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help you become an experienced and wise adventurer.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Feeding the needs of bullies

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it."
- Charles M. Schulz

The only problem you can't walk away from is death. While I can understand why people would want to postpone that particular event, it would not be practical to avoid it completely unless you want to be stuck in your present life forever while the rest of the universe moves on.

To "walk away from" in the sense that Schultz used the phrase means the way you would walk away from a vehicle accident. He means you can survive any problem (except death).

You can survive and rebuild your life or build a new life (even better when you think about it, though a longer term project) after a terrible problem, unless you die.

If you die, then the problem was not worth worrying about. If you don't die and you know (really understand, in your heart) that you can and will walk away from it, survive and build a better life, then no problem can be too very bad for you.

Many problems seem severe at the time, especially if they cause depression (which many do, though people don't realize they are suffering from depression, as they think they are just worrying about their problem). But simply knowing that you will live through any problem and thinking about where you might be in ten years time (unless it's in prison) will help to give you the stability you need to think your way through your problem.

Real problems don't solve themselves and they don't go away overnight. But often a good sleep will give you insight into what you need to do to solve your problem. This has been scientifically proven, as the unconscious mind solves problems better than the conscious mind that thinks.

Remember, almost no one wants to cause you grief. It's too much trouble for them to monitor your progress toward distress. So your worry about a problem may be unnecessary if the cause of your problem is a person. They just don't care that much. In truth, almost no one in the world cares about you enough to cause you grief over a long period of time. (Get over it.)

For the rare problem-maker that does care enough to cause you grief, you can defuse their interest in you by not giving them the attention they so desperately crave. Just pretent they don't exist. If that's not possible, then don't give them the satisfaction of knowing that you care about what they think about anything.

Anyone who causes a problem for you is a bully. Bullies are inevitably insecure people who need someone else to beat on to make themselves feel less than complete crap. Deny them the attention they crave and they will look elsewhere.

Or (heaven forbid!) you can befriend them. What they really need, more than anything else, is someone who cares if they live or die. They believe that no one does. That may be true, but the choice of offering them friendship should be yours. Befriending a bully may be hard, but they could become good friends because they would already know you care about them (by your gesture of friendship) and you already know they care about you (even though they show it in an anti-social way).

When you give a bully or someone who causes a problem for you the attention they want, you feed their need. Most people (except sociopaths) don't want to have a problem with another person.

Figure it out. Invite them to join you for coffee or tea. Or just walk away.

Don't feed their need or you will cause yourself grief. That's called masochism, which is a psychological problem in itself.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to put life's problems in perspective.
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Monday, May 29, 2006

You can be a beautiful person to others

There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Look for beauty and you will find beauty. You will find what you seek in life.

Emerson teaches us how to be beautiful to others. It's a hard thing to do, but it works.

Enough said about that.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to find beauty and to teach beauty.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ancient wisdom serves us well today

"Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone."
- The Dhammapada, Hindu document of basic principles of life

The people now known as Hindus had the truths and principles of life figured out thousands of years before western civilizations emerged from the Dark Ages.

In the case of this quote, "betters" are those who are more knowledgeable, more wise or more skilled. It does not refer to a social hierarchy (which only developed in Hindu cultures after these truths and principles were conceived).

"Travel" refers to what we might call travelling the road of life.

The quote suggests that you can't learn anything worthwhile from those who are less knowledgeable than you. If anything, you might become distracted or directed onto a wrong path by those whose false truths would lead you in the wrong direction.

Those who are on wrong paths argue the strongest about how right they are because they need company and approval.

"Travel alone" does not necessarily mean that you need to be a hermit if you can't find someone with whom to share your life travels. It means to think independently.

If the opposition to truth and virtue is too strong, you can keep these within yourself and follow them without hving to depend on others for verification and acknowledgement.

A complete and confident person can do that. But first he must learn what those truths and principles are. That means getting involved in or at least learning about affairs that may be unseemly when the final path of life is chosen.

You don't know where the middle of the road is unless you have seen both sides.

Bill Allin
'Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help you find your own road.
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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Failing your way to success

A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.
- John Burroughs

"Fail" is a non-judgmental state of being of something. "Failure" is a judgmental label placed on someone. The distinction is important, especially for the someone who is doing something.

Failing at repeated attempts to learn, to accomplish or to do something is part of the process of progress. Failing is what lends depth to wisdom, which would otherwise be a collection of relatively unimportant and unverified facts.

Society teaches us to avoid taking blame for anything, as well as to take credit for as much as possible. It does this by example. That is, we learn this by observing others whom we believe are role models for how to behave.

Doesn't this--the quotation plus the previous paragraph--mean that we have societies filled with failures? Look around you. Most people have trouble giving even one example of someone whose life they would like to emulate.

To be successful, then, means to be different. To be different means to experience failing at many things along the path of life. It's part of the process of growth.

Wisdom means admitting your failures to yourself, learning from them, then challenging yourself to do better next time.

There is no shame in failing unless you give up as a result of it or if you blame someone else, in which case you give up your right to make a good life for yourself.

To have a good life, you must feel good about yourself. You can't feel good about yourself as long as you feel guilt about either your failures or about blaming someone else needlessly.

That leaves lots of room open for people to be successful, as there is little competition for the position. It's a struggle to get there though, which is why so many people give up and blame someone else.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show you the path to success, then encourage you to follow it.
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Friday, May 26, 2006

Naysayers are life wreckers

"You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light."
- Vicomte de Chateaubriand

This is worded badly, likely due to the translation. No one ever believes themselves as seeing the world in an odious light. It's always "the other guy."

We always believe ourselves to see only "the truth." And we're smugly confident about it.

We have have a tendency to somehow believe that those who have negative opinions about all sorts of things, who believe everyone (but themselves) to be sinners and who restrict their behaviour to the most spartan existence have insight that the rest of us don't have. They don't.

What they do have is the ability to restrict themselves to a world that is so small that they can't find themselves in trouble, by accident, very often. When examined closely, their theory of life is that if you do nothing, you won't get yourself into trouble.

This, however, is not life, unless you view slavery as an acceptable form of life. Self imposed slavery is surely the most absurd form of human abuse.

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, so long as we learn from them. There is nothing wrong with experiencing tragedy, so long as the experience adds to our understanding of the world aorund us and how to deal with it.

There is nothing wrong with being imperfect. Even with admitting it. It's how we were created. To deny this gets us into all sorts of problems, not the least of which is missing out on much of what life is about.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show that the world is a pretty good place to live, and to help us to make it even better.
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Thursday, May 25, 2006

One way to sleep better

There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.
- French proverb

Proverbs are like parables, myths, legands and folk tales, they explain a truth about life.

This proverb says that you can sleep the best when your conscience is clear. Since conscience is a learned element of character and qualities of character (aka virtues) are not often purposefully taught to children in western countries in recent times, it's left for us to make do with our own experience on this matter.

Conscience is like a sack we carry around with us on our back. Into that sack we put memories of everything we did wrong, every time we cheated, every time we hurt someone needlessly, every time we told a "white lie" (not to save someone's feelings but to relieve ourselves of having to explain the truth). That sack gets heavier as we put more into it.

Some people put things into their conscience sack that don't belong. That's because others tell them they have committed some wrong that they really have not. False guilt.

Some people put nothing into their conscience sacks. They become sociopaths, people who do things without regard for who they may hurt in the process.

Yet all of this is unnecessary, as the proverb says. Following The Golden Rule (which exists in some form in every culture) will keep our conscience free from burden. Doing good also relieves the burden we have accumulated in the past.

When it comes to The Golden Rule, we have two choices. We can set an example or we can follow someone else's example. Too many people choose the latter, only to find their conscience sack filling up. They can't sleep and they don't know why.

Sleep disorders result from several causes. One of those causes, a burdensome conscience sack, no doctor can cure.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problem,' striving to help everyone sleep better, for good reason.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ask questions, unless you are a vegetable

"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."
- Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell was a prime example of curmudgeonliness. He questioned everything. He often came up with faulty results. But he kept questioning anyway. He probably learned more in his lifetime that 99.99 percent of his contemporaries.

He was right about asking questions, especially to do with matters we take for granted. Things we accept as givens can be taken away. A high divorce rate is a good example of why continuing to ask questions about what we would otherwise take for granted is important.

Another subject where we should ask questions is our belief system. Beliefs are something we come to take for granted unless we refresh our commitment to them once in a while. Asking questions about our beliefs brings them to the forefront of our minds, thus increasing our interest in and commitment to them.

New information arises often on things related to our religions. Archaeology produces artifacts and evidence that either support or refute stories in our holy books. These deserve to be addressed unless we are prepared to accept beliefs based on non-existent or false "evidence" that we were taught before provable facts came to light.

It all comes down to "Who am I?" When we continue to ask questions about ourselves and about how we relate to the world around us, we grow because we understand more about the complexity of it all.

The more we ask questions and actively seek their answers, the more likely that the true answers will appear through what seems to be chaos.

The alternative is to not ask questions and remain ignorant about who we are and why we are on this planet. There is nothing good about ignorance. Unless you are a vegetable.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to turn you on as to what life is about and how you fit into it.
Learn more at

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Desiderata (the original version with proper attribution)

Desiderata has been popular for the past few decades, though its original version and the story behind it were blurred by false attributions.
What follows is the original version, its proper attribution and the story of the hoax that surrounded the piece.

Desiderata (the real version, with corrected attribute to follow)
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
- Max Ehrmann (September 26, 1872 - September 9, 1945), an attorney from Indiana, was best known for writing the Desiderata (Latin: something desired as essential) in 1927.

The Baltimore hoax
In about 1965 copies of the poem were circulated to various publications with the fraudulent (or perhaps simply mistaken) attribution "Found in Old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore; Dated 1692", and it was widely reprinted on the assumption that it was in the public domain. Even Analog Science Fact / Science Fiction was taken in. On close analysis some of the concepts expressed in the poem seem too sophisticated for the 17th century, yet even today many people still believe the hoax.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spreading the word of hope

You can wait for things to happen by chance, or you can make things happen by choice.
- Anonymous

Improvise, adapt and overcome.
- Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge

I put these two quotations together because they seem to be a good fit.

Anonymous was far too optimistic about things happening by chance. He/She gives the impression that our hopes will materialize by themselves if we simply wait long enough. History proves that nothing positive happens by chance.

Look around the world or in a library full of history books and you will find good things that happened only because someone (or a group) took clear and positive steps to make them happen.

Leaving good things to happen by chance doesn't work. There are enough bad guys in the world to ensure that what happens is what they want to happen because they work hard enough and diligently enough to see that things do happen for them.

The Eastwood movie quote suggests ways to make positive things happen by beginning them ourselves. Change is required for someone in order to make change happen in a community. Again, positive things don't happen by themselves.

Yet the most important changes we want to happen (everyone wants to happen, no matter where they live) are already provided in a formula within Turning It Around. The rationale and background, the details of extent of social problems, the solutions and some of the needed material to get the solutions implemented are all available in the book.

What we need is for a few people to improvise and adapt, in other words to step forward and be prepared to tell others to join us to make the necessary changes. Simply tell them to join the TIa group. That's all.

It doesn't make sense for people in every large community in the world to suffer when the solutions are available and cheap to implement.

Unless we like suffering. The problem with spreading the message at this stage is simply that enough people don't know what you know, which is what the solutions to our problems are and how to implement them.

I can only spread the word just so far myself. After that, I must depend on you.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to spread the word of hope to every part of our globe.
Learn more at

Sunday, May 21, 2006

We're succeeding at doing nothing

It is better to try something and fail than to try nothing and succeed.
- Dr Robert Schuller

A recent favourite song of mine is "The Living Years," by Mike and the Mechanics. The opening line is "Every generation blames the one before." The song goes on to discuss the generation gap and how many families split over their differences while not realizing what they hold valuable in common until one of them dies.

Why does every generation blame the one before? First of all, it's because that is the generation of adults that has been in charge of their country and is most readily at hand. It's the generation that exemplifies the faults and failures of the society it controls.

But it's also because, as Dr. Schuller said, the generation of our parents complained about the faults and failures of their world, then did nothing about them. They tried nothing and succeeded. What a marvellous measuring stick for achievement!

Today the militaries of many countries are in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to stop the spread of terrorism that is so much like terror movies of past decades that its shocking. Many people in their home countries want to bring their soldiers back. "It's not our fight," they say.

They want to do nothing and succeed. When the terrorist tactics that today plague many parts of the world strike the home countries of these people, they will again do little. But be afraid. They're good at that. Doing nothing and being afraid, it's their idea of being successful.

We now know how to prevent poverty, starvation, many diseases, most major crime, divorce, many forms of mental illness, addictions and many other ills of our modern world. It's all explained in Turning It Around. The answers, the solutions, are right there. It's simply a matter of writing the legislation and the school curriculum to match it. We have experts to do that. These professionals do it every day. They just need to know what to write.

But most people are doing nothing about it. Not even so much as inviting their friends, neighbours and workmates to join the TIA group so that something can get started in many countries.

Doing nothing and succeeding.

If you are one of those, at least don't be foolish enough to fault those who are trying to prevent an already international tragedy, terrorism, from spreading around the globe.

Turning It Around could stop that too. And bring peace to the world.

But we're all too busy minding our own business. Doing nothing, and succeeding.

Congratulations on your success.

Some of us won't settle for that. Some of us are trying very hard to make life better. For the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, for whom terrorism is their business because it has destroyed their countries.

And for you. Your welfare is my business. I wish you felt the same way about the welfare of others.

Success at doing nothing is nothing to brag about when you reach the end of your life.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to do what's right, even if we fail. We will succeed at what's right eventually if we keep trying.
Learn more at

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Making the decision of your life

"Today's the day."
- Anonymous

Today is the only day we can talk about with confidence, the only day we can do something and know that it's done. The only day we can make a life choice.

It's the only day we can face up to the fact that our procrastination about something is our way of committing ourselves to not doing that thing. So we can choose to not do that thing and have the monkey off our backs.

It's also the only day we can commit ourselves to doing something that needs to be done. Often that is the very hard decision to build a new life.

Building a new life is a life-altering decision, but one that each of us must make at least once in our lives (sometimes a few times). It's a commitment to something long term, something that will take us to places we have not been before, to do things we have not done before.

It's change on the largest and most frightening scale.

Sometimes it must be done. Sometimes the only choice we have is to postpone making that decision, since we can't change it. Then it's best to cut the cord and get on with it.

And to wish ourselves well as we venture into unknown territory.

In the adventure of life, some are courageous explorers, others merely wasters of oxygen.

Today is the only day you can make your own decision.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each person get pointed in the right direction before they launch into an new world of adventure.
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Friday, May 19, 2006

One way in which a life can be wasted

"Money is the representative of a certain quantity of corn or other commodity. It is so much warmth, so much bread."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Warmth" in this case means value for fuel which would generate heat.

The key word in this quote is "representative." Too many people treat money as the objective itself. They become obsessive, even addictive, about acquiring money. It becomes the main quest for their lives, their raison d'etre.

But why? Money and the quest for it is more within their control than many other things about theri lives. The way to get money is clearer than how to have a successful relationship with a spouse, how to raise children properly or how to form a bond with God.

They disclaim the importance of anything else--even to the point of saying that their failed marriage was not significant or that the problems their children have were the fault of their spouse--in order to make their focus on the acquisition of money clearer. To them, it's not that God doesn't matter (or doesn't exist, though some claim this), but that God is no more important to them than their work.

These people are dissociated not just from the mainstream of life around them, but also from the direction that humankind has moved over the past millennia.

As financially successful and secure as they may be, they are throw-aways when it comes to their significance as contributors to the advancement of humanity.

How sad. They cannot be retrieved. They are lost, just as much as those who have made up their minds to blow themselves up and take as many others as possible with them in the belief that God wants them to do it. They have deceived themselves and they want to take others with them.

What' s important is that the rest of us don't follow their examples and don't listen to their entreaties to join them in their lost-cause quest. We live among this human detritus. They present a foil against which we can measure the quality of our own lives.

We can sense our own value by comparing what we have done with our lives against what they have wasted of theirs.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the distinction between the black hats and the white hats.
Learn more at

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Are you prepared for when a door closes in your life?

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor (1847-1922)

This is not a difficult concept to understand, but it's a painful one to explain.

We all long for stability, for the world to remain the same long enough so that we can get a handle on it and learn to control it.

We long for our lives to be within our grasp, to be able to understand and manage the factors that make up each day.

Change destroys that. Yet change is not just the norm of nature, but its paradigm. Nature and change you might as well say are the same thing.

We are, therefore, at odds with nature when it comes to our ability to control our lives. It doesn't have to be as bad as this seems.

We tend to dislike change in our lives because we don't know the consequences that change may bring. It may, and often does, make life worse or harder. At least in the short term. Once we adapt to change, however, our lives can be better. And usually are, for some inexplicable reason.

We don't know what change the future may bring. But we can be prepared with options for the worst disasters that could happen to us. Such as losing a loved one, losing a job, having a friend betray us, being robbed, even being raped. These are events we can prepare ourselves for mentally and emotionally so that if one does happen we have a plan of action so we know what to do.

It's the emotional mess that is the worst of unexpected disasters in our lives. We can prepare ourselves emotionally. Even just admitting to ourselves that each of these disasters could happen to us gives us a good edge on knowing what to do if they did. We can imagine what we would do if any of them happened to us. We can plan what our next moves would be to help ourselves. If we make these plans now, tragedy in the future will not be so stressful.

Change isn't always bad over the long term. And tragedy in our lives is a signal for a new beginning.

New beginnings aren't bad if we know what to do when they are required. They give us chances to build new lives that we could not have, could not imagine maybe, under our current ones. They give us opportunities to fulfill more of our potential than we are doing now.

That's a good thing. Harsh, painful, and by no means short term. But good over the long term.

Long term is good, unless you plan to die in the interim.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help each person look forward to new beginnings rather than fearing the change they bring.
Learn more at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ignorance or innocence, it's still stupid

The twin concepts of ignorance and innocence are vehicles for double standards. A child is ignorant if she doesn’t know what adults want her to know, but innocent if she doesn’t know what adults don’t want her to know.
- Jenny Kitzinger, Children, Power and the Struggle Against Sexual Abuse

I like this quotation for one reason and dislike it for two.

I like it because it points out a glaring example of the hypocrisy (double standards) of adults in western society (heck, in the whole world). Adults determine whether a child is either ignorant or innocent. Yet they are responsible for both.

I dislike the quote because it is clearly adult-centred. It looks at the reality of families from an adult point of view. It's as if what the children want or need is not of importance. What is important is only how the adults think of their children, what the adults want to do, how the adults want to do it, what the adults want of their children. Not what children want or need of their parents.

The second way I dislike (or am uncomfortable with) this quote is that in both cases (ignorance or innocence) the child doesn't know. In both cases adults are preventing children from learning about the world into which they will grow and become citizens.

No, Ms. Kitzinger, the children are kept ignorant in both cases due to the ignorance of the parents regarding their responsibilities to raise their children properly.

It is *not* the job of parents to prevent their children from learning about the world. It's the job of parents to teach their children everything they can about the world, as soon as the kids are old enough to understand the lessons.

Should children be kept "innocent" for as long as possible? No! The only reason for parents to do this is so that they can have pets with two legs instead of four. Children who are kept this way come to hate their parents for it when they become adults and learn how much their parents kept from them.

It's a violation of parental responsibility to prevent a child from learning about the world around them. Yes, some lessons may be brutal. But the lessons do not have to be presented with all of the grittiness that adults feel about a particular subject. The kids just need to know the facts. They will learn the grittiness as they become exposed to these subjects in their own lives. It's the harshness of a subject that can be kept from kids, not knowledge of the subject itself.

There is no such thing as "innocence" of children. There is only ignorance. And that ignorance is imposed by adults, be they parents or teachers. Teachers only follow what parents want of them.

The job of parents--the *only* job of parents--is to raise competent and confident children who can take their place in society as good citizens who know about their surroundings. Only when they know will they be able to develop ways of dealing with what their parents have failed to deal with, finding solutions to problems that the generation of parents have created or allowed to become worse.

"Innocent" children become stupid adults, just like their parents. This is wrong. It's wrong, no matter how many foolish excuses parents give.

Wrong is still wrong, no matter how many times or how many people say it's right.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to prevent stupid parenting from becoming genetic code.
Learn more at

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fear hurts, no matter how or when it's used

"Trying to fortify the nuclear family by fomenting suspicion of strangers fractures the community of adults and children; it can leave children defenseless in abusive homes. Projecting sexual menace onto a cardboard monster and pouring money and energy into vanquishing him distracts from teaching children the subtle skills of loving with both trust and discrimination. Ultimately, children are rendered more vulnerable both at home and in the world."
- Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors

That's a lot of words to say: Fear is harmful, no matter where it's used or how it's applied. When fear is created in children, it impacts their whole lives in ways that parents can't imagine.

It's important to make a distinction between fear and a healthy dose of apprehension or caution. We need apprehension and caution to conduct our lives safely by avoidng situations which are potentially harmful or risky.

However, either apprehension or caution, when used to excess, can be harmful themselves because they become what amounts to fear. Or possibly obsession.

All fear is learned. It may be taught actively (such as teaching a child to fear big dogs or strangers), it may be learned passively through watching a parent or other role model (kids tend to fear the same things as their parents), or it may be learned through experience (such as a fear of heights caused by almost falling from a roof or a tree).

Judith Levine speaks of a particular kind of fear that is taught to children and that is damaging to whole communities. She might as well have said that all fear is bad.

By simple deduction, any person who teaches fear to another person is wrong (at best) or dangerous (at worst).

All dicators use fear to keep their positions. All leaders who seek to increase their power or to hold onto sagging power use fear by actively teaching it to their people.

However, on a mass scale, such as in whole countries, not everyone will succumb to the fear taught by their leaders. That's where the few brave souls who can see through the disguise and the guile must speak up and teach others that they ahve been deceived.

In every country of the world that has a dictator or a powerful leader, the few are speaking out. In a few of those cases, the United Nations listens and takes action.

Not often enough, as nations tend toward maintaining the status quo just the way individuals do.

Some brave individuals need to speak not just louder, but to the right people in the right places.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the way to a better world by speaking up to the right people in the right places.
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Monday, May 15, 2006

We may unknowingly encourage bullies

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
- Marcus Aurelius, philosopher (121-180)

Each of us values ourself higher than any other person. That's not to say that we would not give our life to save a loved one. It means that we have more of a vested interest in ourselves than in anyone else.

We think we are important because we are the only person we know well.

Then why, Aurelius asks, do we pay any attention to others who express opinions about us? Why are the opinions of others about us more important to us than our own opinion?

We live in a social environment. As social beings, we depend on each other. We rank each other, without thinking about it, in a hierarchy of our own making. We put ourselves in that hierarchy.

Those who are aggressive, who tend to dominate, who express their opinions forcefully and who are not shy about putting down others, we tend to rank higher than ourselves. In prehistoric (even pre-human) times, our ancient ancestors needed those who were bravest, most aggressive and boldest as leaders, as defenders, as protectors, as the best hunters and the best warriors.

Without thinking about it, we still give credibility to people who act in this way, even though we no longer have any reason to respect such people.

The people who put others down tend to be socially immature and insecure (despite the fact they may act the opposite) and they may not rank as high on the social scale as the people they criticize.

When someone criticizes you, take it as a compliment from someone who is socially inferior to you and less socially secure than you. It's true, no matter how they may try to hide it.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show up the bullies for what they really are.
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nietzsche on praising God

I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Once again I ask that you use common sense to determine if this quote is reasonable. We should not have to believe something on faith if it doesn't make sense.

If God is all powerful and omnicient, as the world's major religions teach (and as seems reasonable to me), then why would he need to have constant verification of his power over all forms of life? Praise is something required of people by those in power, to reaffirm their position as (effectively) dictators over lives.

Requiring constant praise would require God to be narcissistic, a characteristic that no believer would want to attribute to his or her God.

God is neither narcissistic, nor does he dictate our lives. Dictating lives, also known as fatalism, would negate free will, a basic right on which most religions take a strong stand in its favour.

If God has unlimited and unquestionable power, he would not need constant praise, meaning constant worship. Worship means praising or subjecting oneself to another, not simply attending a service or praying.

If God does not control our lives, then we follow him voluntarily (if at all). It does not make sense to give constant praise or worship (the same thing) to someone we follow voluntarily. Voluntarily means that we follow of our own free will. It also means that we can change our minds. We would not constantly praise or worship someone we could change our minds about at any time.

It doesn't make sense. It would be contradictory.

Religions ask us to "have faith" as their answer to why so much of what they teach is clearly contradictory and nonsensical.

You are welcome to have faith in that which doesn't make sense. However, I can't imagine that an all powerful and omnicient God would not make sense. The epitome of perfection would not be either contradictory or nonsensical.

That, in itself, would not make sense. I won't go there.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make sense of life through a morass of nonsense.
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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Confidence is attractive, a feature anyone can have

"He who believes is strong, he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions."
- Louisa May Alcott, US novelist, (1832-1888)

He who believes is strong. Believing means conviction. Conviction leads to commitment.

Those who commit to something have confidence. Confidence is attractive.

Confidence doesn't attract everyone. It does attract those who also wish to be confident. They want to ally themselves with others who are confident because confidence smells of power.

You can be powerful if you are confident of yourself and committed to what you believe in. You can attract others because of this power, convincing them to join you in the good work you do.

Those who do good work need help because there is so much good work needed in the world.

Those who do good work need to be confident in themselves and in what they do. Only with the assistance of others who are attracted to them and their cause will they, together, accomplish much to make the world better, safer, happier.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the way to a better, safer, happier world. With your help.
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Friday, May 12, 2006

Worm food or everlasting life?

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."
- Sir Cecil Beaton

The play-it-safers fear life and the future it holds for them. They embrace what they know, avoiding change, without understanding that maintaining the status quo in life effectively means falling behind, though they never admit it.

These people waste the spirit they were born with, the one that some call a soul, others the essence of life, still others that part of them that is everlasting.

When you do nothing to advance your life into the unknown future, you do nothing worth continuing past your death. In other words, you leave nothing worth continuing after you die.

That's harsh, isn't it? Get over it. Life is harsh. It's not fair.

We either create something new, we build, while we are on Earth, or we simply become worm food like any other dead animal.

Is there life after death? Yes, for the worms and bacteria that consume our bodies.

But is there more than that, real everlasting life? Think about it. Why would God want to continue the existence of someone who wasted their life on Earth because they were afraid of what might happen to them?

How long do you think you would keep worm food around?

If you want life after your body dies, do something. Dare to be something. Courageously forge your own future.

No one can do it for you. No one wants to do it for you. You're on your own with this.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to encourage everyone to stop hiding behind things, from televisions to false religious beliefs.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006

What's on the other side of your door?

A man does not look behind the door unless he has stood there himself.
- William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, educator and writer (1868-1963)

What's behind the door?
- nothing?
- the bogeyman?
- a monster?
- a rapist and murderer?
- a thief?
- your mother?
- your friends, waiting to surprise you with a party for your birthday?

Why do we suspect that anything or anyone may be behind the door? Because someone else has been behind there and surprised us before or because we have been there (either hiding away from someone or waiting to surprise someone) ourselves.

We don't even consider the possibility of someone doing something unusual, irrational, insane, offbeat, illegal, immoral or horrendous unless we have either heard about such a thing before or we have considered it ourselves.

Thus starvation of people in a distant land means little to us unless we have gone hungry. Fear of something means nothing unless we have experienced fear of that same thing ourselves.

We can be afraid, easily, based on what our media or friends have fed us about fearful things.

We could also be happy or delighted at some new experience, if only it would occur to us to take advantage of the opportunity to do it.

The unknown is something to be feared, according to many people. It's something to be enjoyed, according to those who take the trouble to tell us that.

For most people, the unknown doesn't exist until they experience it themselves.

Our lawmakers enact laws, policies and budget legislation on matters about which they know very little. They seldom consult those affected. They simply believe they know enough to create situations which affect the lives of others by virtue of reading a few paragraphs about it in notes that have been passed to them by lobbyists or other party members.

Oh, yes, our lawmakers suffer the same kind of temptation to act based on relative ignorance as the rest of us. When they do, we all suffer.

When we jump to conclusions about what's behind our own door, without having any reason to believe it's so, we suffer the consequences of acting on our own ignorance.

Oh, how we and those around us can suffer! Because we didn't find out what we needed to know before deciding what to do or what to think.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to have us look behind the door (to think realistically) before jumping to conclusions about what's there.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How you can become a hero

"Heroes are created by popular demand, sometimes out of the scantiest materials."
- Gerald W. Johnson

We need heroes. They act as markers to assure us that the world is on the right track despite all the evidence we see around us to the contrary.

When times are at their worst, heroes seem to appear in great numbers. That's because the acts of good people that ordinarily receive little attention in good times seem more significant in bad times. When times are tough, we recognize the good acts that happen around us every day.

Heroes are created by the media, from otherwise ordinary people. The media teach us why a certain person should be recognized as a hero. We acknowledge their heroism because we believe what the media teach us.

Therefore, you are a hero waiting to happen. If you want to be reocngized as a hero, you must do things to help others, without regard for reward for yourself.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show everyone how to become a hero.
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Discovery suffers from hard heads

"The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but rather the illusion of knowledge."
- Daniel Borsten, author of The Discoverist

Throughout human history men have always claimed to have answers when, in fact, they didn't know the questions or didn't understand them.

Borsten refers to the discovery of the shape of the earth and so on by Europeans. It was only in Europe that anyone believed the earth was flat, for example., or that there was nothing but oceans between western Europe and eastern Asia.

Educated and knowledgeable people elsewhere in the world knew about these things long before Europeans did. And even offered to tell Europeans about them. Documentation supports these facts.

But the Europeans always had all the answers they needed. In their heads.

Remember Alexander the Great, who "conquered the world?" When his troops got into India, they panicked and had to turn back because it was too different from *their* world. Their world was theirs only within their own minds.

Whe Borsten says the "illusion of knowledge" was the greatest obstacle to discovery, he meant the belief people had that they knew everything they needed to know. He meant that they didn't believe they needed to know any more.

The only reason that Europe became so powerful after "discovering" so many other parts of the world was that they had weapons, defences and ships that were more powerful than those of the people they conquered.

History is crafted and rewritten by conquerers, not by the defeated. Conquerers always believe they are right, no matter how ignorant they might have been.

When you are the most powerful, you get to say that you are always right. And you act that way.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to shine a light on those who use history as an exercise in creative writing.
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Monday, May 08, 2006

Doing nothing can be productive

In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.
- Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

The philosopher was not suggesting that we avoid learning any more than he would suggest that we stop eating if we were overweight.

We eat to give ourselves the energy with which to conduct our daily lives, to do the things that need to be done. True, to build muscles we need to eat special foods, notably those that are rich in proteins. But eating huge amounts of food will not give us huge amounts of energy or make us unusually strong.

Yet to stop eating entirely for the purpose of losing weight is counterproductive as well, as it robs our bodies of essential nutrients that they can't get from stored energy (fat) or muscle.

To contemplate means to do nothing physical, instead to exercise the brain to consider what we are, where are are in our lives, what makes things happen around us, what is harmful and what helpful and for whom, how we can reach our goals, and so on.

To others, our contemplation would be considered to be "doing nothing." Who cares?

If we are always busy with matters that involve use of our muscles or our brains toward goals that are external to us, it's like overeating to achieve additional energy.

Sometimes we need to stop and do nothing. Just think. Not to feel sorry for ourselves by lavishing ourselves with self pity. But to think about where we are going, where we would like to go and how we can get there.

We don't accomplish much in life by following directions from someone else all the time.

We need to set out own goals and chart a course to reach them. That requires time to think. And plan. Then to rethink and adjust our plans until they are realistic and achievable.

If you don't know where you want to go in life, for sure you will never get where you might have wanted to go.

And when you reach your goals, you need to set new goals. What those new goals will be will depend on your life objectives. They will require you to spend time doing nothing. Just thinking about them. And resting your brain between bouts of thinking.

Doing nothing can be productive.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to encourage you to give your brain both exercise and "down time" to recover.
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Sunday, May 07, 2006

The scracks are too big!

"No accurate thinker will judge another person by that which the other person's enemies say about him."
- Napoleon Hill

And yet, we do just that.

We believe what the media (especially the tabloids) say about famous people. We believe that anyone the media report as being charged with some crime must be guilty, as we seldom see the verdict of "not guilty" printed in back pages (seldom reported by television news) later.

We believe rumours that neighbours tell about other neighbours.

We easily and comfortably believe one side of a story about someone without bothering to search out the other side(s). It's easier that way.

Why do we do this? It's part of a basic instinct we have that we must be or at least feel superior to as many others as possible. It's related to the pecking order. The more others that are inferior to us in the pecking order, the more secure we feel.

But this doesn't make sense in the modern world! Who cares if we feel superior to some movie star we've never met?

That's not the point. We unconsciously feel inferior to so many others we know because of our personal weaknesses, our ignorance of so many subjects and our known failures, while we know little or nothing of these in other people.

In a sense, we are our own worst enemies. At least we can feel superior to "them," the others who so obviously are in the wrong where we are not.

Can this be ovecome? Yes. It all goes to teaching and supporting of the level of self confidence of children. Children who don't feel confident about themselves become adults who don't feel confident about themselves.

It's hard to overcome in adults, but it can be done. With children, the stage of life where self confidence is developed in the first place, it's relatively easy. The knowledge of how to do this in schools is widely available.

We just aren't doing it. Our education systems are not set up to allow this to happen over a broad spectrum of children.

Our teachers are too busy with other things (such as a horrendous curriculum load) to deal with personal needs. And too many parents expect that their kids will have their personal needs (other than food, shelter, clothing and some love) satisfied at school.

It's not just a few that "fall through the cracks." It's a few that don't.

TIA wants to change that.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to close the cracks.
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Saturday, May 06, 2006

World peace is possible; here's how

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

The beauty of this, of course, is that Eisenhower was the general who led the Allied forces at the end of the Second World War, then was president of the USA after that.

The leader of what was even then the most powerful nation in the world had faith in his people, in people everywhere, that they would want and demand peace. He believed that peace would be inevitable because it would be desired by so many people.

What Eisenhower did not reckon with is the feeling of powerlessness that these people felt and feel today.

Some studies have shown that over 90 percent of the people of the world want peace in the world. That's always, meaning that peace must be the criterion by which all national leaders conduct their international relations.

It's not the primary criterion, of course. The greediest, power-hungry people find ways to work their way into positions of power while the rest of their comparatively peaceful countrymen watch. And do nothing to stop these power-mad people.

And do nothing.

The TIA program was designed to give a method by which peace can be achieved in the world. It depends on the people who want peace signing up with the TIA group and eventually joining thousands of others in their own country to ask their governments to enact legislation that would bring about a TIA plan in schools.

Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated or expensive. No great commitment to a cause.

But it does mean that those who really do want peace will have to do something, albeit only a little bit. They don't have to lead anything or march on any government buildings or hold sit-ins anywhere. Just belong to a group. A group that stands for peace.

What a small price to pay to do your part to bring peace to the world.

Please invite people you know to join us at

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to bring peace in the only viable way it could ever happen.
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Your potential is limited only by you own will

"The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good."
- Brian Tracy

Though Brian Tracy is an inspirational speaker on the subjects of business and investment, his meaning can safely be applied across a broad spectrum.

The potential of a person is within his or her brain. A majority of adults worldwide expand the ability, knowledge and skills of their brains very little once they pass the age of 25 years. They feel they worked hard enough in school that they don't want to cram any more in there later.

To see the potential of such a person spread open so that he or she can see possibilities that were not ever considered before is quite exciting. Getting most people over that huge hump is a major task that few would attempt because it requires too much time, effort and emotional strength.

However, this can be done with children easily if their curiosity, their eagerness to learn and their natural excitement about gaining more knowledge is not shut down in school. Schools are designed (unintentionally) to do just that, to make children into dumb followers of strong leaders as adults.

Turning It Around was written to address just this problem. Most of our social problems today stem from the frustration people have about their inability to manage their lives. They turn to addictive behaviours, anti-social behaviours and mental (emotional) self-destruction as ways to cope.

Coping skills can easily be taught to kids. Oddly enough, adults who don't have them also often don't want to learn new skills. They have become comfortable with their inadequacies and fear getting into something new they can't manage.

The solutions and answers are available if we look in the right places.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show everyone where the right places are.
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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Watch out for those who climb on your face

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great."
- Mark Twain

For many of us, convincing ourselves that our ideas and our efforts are worthy when someone else says that they are a waste of time is one of the hardest things we can do.

Confident, competent, skilled and knowledgeable people do not belittle the thoughts or efforts of others. They remember that they were once in the position of the new learner. They are more apt to be helpful and offer to assist someone else than to ignore, avoid or insult them.

Only insecure people, those who doubt not only the security of their position, but also their ability to do the job well, will harm others who want to learn.

You have heard of people who climb over others to get to the top. These are people worth avoiding. They are destructive all along the way.

What's more, they don't know what to do with themselves once they reach the top. They often turn to addictions and excesses. They only worked obsessively to get there because they believed what they had been taught, that the top of the heap was the place to be.

You can be the best at something. It's up to you what that is. It's also up to you whether you reach that goal.

It's never up to the other guy. They would rather you not get where they can't be.

Bill Allin
'Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help you up the next step.
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

All real problems are little problems

"Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable."
- Theodore N. Vail

Our imaginations create problems that are, in effect, little fears.

These cannot be overcome primarily because they are neither rational nor substantial. Since we are not afraid of an existing situation--only one that might potentially happen--we do not have the personal tools or skills to overcome something that doesn't exist.

Fears, even at this level, are not rational. No one can explain his or her fears to another in a way that the other would accept as worthy.

If what we created in our minds is a fear which has no substance and will not likely happen, then acceptance of what we have done is part of the cure. When we accept that our feared future situation will not likely take place--they seldom do--then we can wrap our minds around the possibility to ridding ourselves of the fear.

Getting rid of a fear is a bit like flushing a toilet: you know what you flushed away is still around somewhere, but you don't know where and at least it's gone from your present.

All real problems are little problems. They become big problems only when we do nothing about them or when we create fears of a tragic future because of what they may become.

Little problems can be managed by tackling them one small step at a time. The important things for us to remember is that they are not worth fearing and that we will get past them.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show that feared problems are manageable when we examine them up close.
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The price of greatness and of ignorance

Is it so bad then to be misunderstood?
Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.
To be great is to be misunderstood.
- Emerson

Yes, but most of them were executed for their beliefs. Copernicus only revealed his findings that our sun was not the centre of the universe just before he died because he feared he would lose his job with the church and be excommunicated. Newton had to recant his finding that Earth is not the centre of the solar system or be imprisoned for life (if not executed).

Yet where would our knowledge of the world we live in be if these men had not done what they did and written or spoken about what they found?

Today we live in a world where scientists and other researchers and explorers expand the depth of human knowledge every day. New discoveries are often greeted by abuse from the peers of the discoverers. But, in general, msot people simply ignore most of the findings.

We are comfortable in our ignorance.

There's a steep price to be paid for ignorance. But that price need only be paid later. For now, learning new knowledge is hard work we believe we can safely avoid if we just mind our own business.

Bill Allin
"Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to take the cover off ingorance and reveal it for the hell it really is.
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Monday, May 01, 2006

Stupid versus different

"If 40 million people say a stupid thing, it is still a stupid thing."
- Anatole France, French writer (1844-1924)

There's inflation for you. Instead of 40 million, that number could now be hundreds of millions or even billions.

The important thing is not that the stupid thing is said, but that it is believed by those who hear it. Tabloid newspapers, for example, make fortunes by inventing lies about celebrities then peddling them as truth, being careful to avoid using language that might get them sued.

The criterion for believing anything we hear or read should be that it has to make sense. If it doesn't really make sense that you should be able to invest $100 and become a millionnaire from it, then it's not worth putting out the money.

A new friend who tells you he or she loves you just before having sex with you for the first time for the first time, not a lasting relationship. Sex and long term relatinships don't necessarily have much to do with each other, so listening to words and drawing unwarranted conclusions from them is foolish.

If a religious story has several discrepancies or could not have happened in real life--your own life--then you must question the validity of the story. Maybe it's a myth or parable, as religions use these devices often to convey truths about life.

On the other hand, just because someone or even millions of people disagree with your point of view on a political matter does not mean that they are wrong and you are right. Different is not stupid in politics. There is no right or wrong in politics, only better or worse. And they are often hard to tell apart.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help you tell the difference between stupid and really valuable.
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