Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Einstein had it right; we didn't pay attention

The problems of today cannot be solved with the same thinking that gave us the problems in the first place.
- Albert Einstein

Yet that is precisely what we do, as countries, as communities and as individuals. Not everyone, of course, but enough that we can see a pattern.

A man or woman who has a very unhappy first marriage sets out to find a second mate, then chooses one with basically the same problems that caused them so much grief in the first marriage. Some extent their pattern to a third and fourth marriage.

People complain about the councillors that represent them in their city government. They call them spendthrifts, stupid, careless about people with certain problems in their community. Then basically the same people are elected to office next time.

The Cold War is a perfect example of two countries that got their way with many other countries within their sphere of influence by investments, political pressure or military might. It destroyed not only the old Soviet Union, but every individual state within the union because they were all nearly bankrupt.

Today the US--who clearly won the Cold War--is busy trying to influence it most intransigent opponents, by economic might and military persuasion. And it's bankrupting itself in the process.

The United Nations, an organization that encompasses almost every nation in the world, strives for world peace. But its member nations hesitate to send troops from nations that are at peace into civil war zones because they don't want any of their soldiers killed on foreign soil unless it's in the defence of their own country. Protect your own. It's always worked in the past.

People who want to be wealthy the easy way spend thousands of dollars buying lottery tickets, impovershing themselves and their families in the hope of winning a fortune they won't have the financial sense to hang onto.

Rebuilding a life, a community or a country is frightening. Frightening because people are afraid of change or because they don't have the foresight to know what they want? Or maybe they have the foresight, but not the willpower to implement changes that would bring the new situation about. Arguments can and have been mounted for each of these possibilities.

Our problems grow. We continue trying to address them in the same ways we always have.

Too many bad guys on the streets? Build more prisons, hire more police and engage more judges. But don't do what is needed to prevent people from turning to crime in the first place.

Too many people taking drugs? Stop the plants from being grown and put the sellers in prison. Don't change conditions so that the people who buy the drugs won't want to purchase them any more.

All change begins with education. That can be done in schools, where everyone gets the same message, or it can be done by the media and new laws.

How do you think our present system of depending on the media and passing new laws has done? In my country, social problems keep growing.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to put responsibility and authority into the hands of people who can make changes happen.
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