Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Secret To Finding Your Ideal Mate

The Secret To Finding Your Ideal Mate

This technique shouldn't be a secret. It's only a secret because not many people know about it. It should be taught to all young people.

In early adolescence we begin to overtly take notice of members of the opposite sex. Many kids have noticed before that, but family and peer pressures forced them to be quiet. That's why many kids go through the "I hate girls/boys" phase, depending on the gender, right before adolescence hits. They feel clumsy, awkward, ignorant of what to do to get the attention of those they have noticed.

As adolescence kicks in, hormones take over and the fact that kids don't know what they're doing matters less. They all know very little (though some fraudulently claim to be experts in the locker room or at sleepovers), but it doesn't matter because they are driven by nature to find partners. Nature says "It's time!" even if the kids don't have much idea about what to do.

So they look, and look. Through high school they try to match up with the most attractive others they can. The most popular kids get the most dates (and the most mates, judging by the bragging), even if they aren't the best looking.

What kids this age never seem to be told is that the kids who are the most popular in high school tend to become socially lost after that. In the real world, the wider world outside of high school, they are more average so they lose their following. And their narcissistic belief in themselves as social magnets.

The most physically attractive ones may find others as attractive, but the ones who were most popular and most attractive in high school have very poor records for choosing mates they stay with for a lifetime. In general, they have sad records on the happiness scale.

The salient point here is that young people look for the best deal they can make in a mate. They want to find "the one who is best for me." This may or may not result in love later, but that's not the point. It's a selfish, self-centred approach. Eventually, that wears thin with mates who have their own interests at heart and they separate.

What young people don't realize is that they should be trying to make themselves as attractive as possible to potential intimate friends. Dating should not be so much a matter of "What's the best I can get?" as "What do I have to offer to someone else?"

Dating is a buyer's market. But when the deal is closed, both parties need to be happy with the arrangement. That means that someone looking for a new dating partner needs to have enough to offer to potential dates to make them worth the investment by the other.

When kids look for the best they can get, the results usually reflect the self-centred approach. Those who make themselves attractive as mates will have the best chance at attracting the kind of partner they hope to find. They have something to give rather than wanting to take something.

Think of it this way. Walking through a parking lot, you likely wouldn't bend down to pick up a penny (unless you're superstitious). Some won't even bend down to pick up a quarter. Most everyone would reach down to grab a $10 bill. The $10 bill has a value far beyond that of the small coins.

In the dating market, potential partners look for mates with the most value, with the greatest potential to fulfill as many of the items on their mate wish list as possible. The shiny quarters may look good, but they usually get discarded after a while. Or they get cast off or traded in for something better, someone with more personal value to them.

Dating is a prelude to marriage for most people, according to the tradition of nature. In marriage we want different things, seek different values, than we do when dating in high school.

Almost no one meets the love of their lifetime in high school. The reason may be that we're all looking for attractive and popular partners for short term relationships, while we want people with real value, lasting value, for long term relationships such as marriage.

The secret? Build value into yourself. Make yourself valuable to the partner you want. To make that relationship last, never forget that when you don't offer your partner the value he or she expects, something will go tragically wrong. Real value lasts a lifetime if you want your relationship to last that long.

People look for others with different characteristics, so no one will work for all. You can choose values for yourself that you would want to find in others. Make sure you demonstrate those values and don't lose track of them later.

Someone with values similar to yours is looking for you. If you're looking for a mate, advertise your values and state clearly the values you are looking for in a mate. That may turn off most, but it will get the attention of the ones who will matter to you.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children the knowledge they need to lead successful adult lives, including finding the right mates.
Learn more at

Friday, January 25, 2008

Making Life Worth Living

The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.
- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

"If I were any better, I'd have to be twins." I suspect my friend who says that regularly may not have "graduated" from grade school. He has never had the luxury of unassigned cash to do with as he liked because he has raised two families of children, much of it on his own as his wives left him. To him, buying a good cup of coffee from a coffee shop is a luxury because he doesn't have to make his own.

Yet that is the reply he usually gives when someone asks him "How's it goin'?"
He won't burden you with his troubles because he knows you have your own. As he can't likely help you with your problems and most people don't care enough to help him with his, he doesn't talk about them.

He talks to God. God, he claims, has been good to him. Though he prays daily--often for others, including me and my wife-- when he is in a particularly big fix he knows he can't handle, he prays extra hard for help. Without fail, something happens and each situation gets resolved. Always.

Now mostly retired (his income is secure), he volunteers at a drop-in centre for teens in the village where he lives. As odd and assorted kids stop by his apartment unexpectedly and consider his home their second and him more of a father than their own, "The Hub" centre is a good fit. He may even take over as its director since he lives closest of the volunteers and the teens (the youngest is 11, but was already on his way to becoming a gangster) act mature and trustworthy when he's around.

His reward is seeing kids turn their lives around. He feels good about it.

Another friend calls several times each week to tell me his problems. He always has more than his share of problems because he repairs computers, usually for big companies whose employees abuse their equipment and fail to protect them with antivirus and antispyware programs regularly. Getting warranty claims resolved positively is almost impossible, people always want their computers back yesterday and some don't want to pay him for months (if ever).

I listen. When he calls to rant, I listen. Sometimes I put my work on hold for an hour or more, but I listen. By the time we hang up, his previously big problems seem nothing more than speed bumps on the highway of life.

Life for this second friend is rocky, filled with ups and downs. The downs don't last long because he feels pretty good when we get off the phone. When it's too early to call me, he exercises, roughly the way an Olympic athlete would exercise, to that level of intensity. Though he will count 65 birthdays as of this year, his brain kicks out the dopamine to make him feel good when he works to his physical limit.

He goes for physical therapy on his hand a couple of times each week and other visits for his bad knee, which has a nasty habit of locking, throwing him headlong onto something that is usually hard. He went through a wooden step in the first place that resulted in his knee being banged up, causing him more pain in a day (he can't sleep longer than four hours) than most people suffer in a year, or ten. Sometimes the locked knee causes him to be thrown down stairs, which is how he wrecked his hand.

But life's pretty good for him.

These two men use their minds to make their lives good, worth living. Wayne Dyer doesn't know them, but if he did he would use them as examples in his speeches and seminars.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how to teach children to approach life positively so that they can lead physically and psychologically healthy adult lives. And to be good mothers and fathers themselves.
Learn more at

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fault Finding Hurts And Damages

Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.
- Zig Ziglar

Let's first off make a major distinction between finding fault and offering ways and means for correction and improvement. Finding fault is destructive, while offering constructive criticism should be seen as coming from someone who cares.

Some say that fault finders want to raise themselves up by bringing others down, that they want, in effect, to climb over the broken bodies of those they vanquished. I disagree with that analysis. Fault finders have very low opinions of themselves--perhaps hate themselves sometimes--and want to bring others low so that they feel they are not alone at the bottom of the social heap. They may not seem insecure, but they are. So are bullies, who fit as well into this analysis as fault finders.

Fault finders have something missing in their lives, something critical to their wellbeing. It could be described as a feeling of self worth. But lacking a feeling of self worth or self esteem makes it seem as if these people are responsible for their own problems. They are surely responsible for how they deal with their problems, but not how they found themselves in that position in the first place.

The origins of lacking self esteem or self worth lie in childhood. It's often attributed to a lack of love or a lack of time spent by at least one parent with the child. No child understands time not spent by parents on them. Their whole lives revolve around learning about their world. The foundation of that world is their parents. When parents don't spend enough time with their children, they leave the foundation of the lives of their children unsecured.

There is no such thing as "quality time." That's a euphemism, an excuse, an alibi for parents giving something else greater importance than their children. Kids have no concept of "quality time." To them, there's time spent and time not spent. They keep mental notes. Time not spent hurts.

As to the lack of love, that is quite subjective. Many people, especially those who live hectic lives in modern cities, do not have a clear concept of what love is. They may not have grown up with love in their lives, so they have no idea how to look for it in their mates and little concept of how to give it to their children. They try. In my long career as a sociologist and teacher I have rarely met a parent who has not tried to be a good parent, to the best of their abilities.

If they lack ability in parenting, it's because they were not given parenting information and taught parenting skills before they needed them.

The children may also have lacked touch by parents. Loving touch is only now being discovered to contribute to the wellbeing of children, including to their health. When kids lack touch by people who love them, they feel alienated from their world. They create strange worlds for themselves, worlds that often do not correspond well to the world their parents want them to live in.

When they reach adulthood, they continue to treat others with the same lack of love and touch, especially their own families, because they don't know what others need, never having learned the lessons themselves. They often lack self esteem, which they exhibit by criticizing others. Sometimes it takes the form of bullying.

Critics, of the destructive variety, lack love and touch in their lives, at least a sufficient amount of it to give them balance, peace and a healthy measure of self respect.

Those who offer help in the form of constructive criticism may be misunderstood by those who lack sufficient self esteem and self respect (self love) as being critics. That partly explains why so many well meaning people stop trying to help others, because they have been rejected, rebuffed and even attacked by those they tried to help in the past.

By the time someone misinterprets constructive criticism (help) from others as destructive criticism, they have already reached the point of being firmly in the position of lacking self respect and love themselves.

One common characteristic of people who lack love, who lack the ability to sympathize or empathize with others, who don't know how to achieve self respect, self love or self esteem is that they vehemently deny it. Very few people, other than the most humble, will admit that they don't know how to find love, to show love or to give love. Even love of themselves.

These are hard lessons to learn. Just as a person who was once addicted to something is always a recovering addict, someone who once lacked love, loving touch and self respect will always be in the state of recovering from it, even if they learn the skills.

If people don't learn these thing as children, they tend to live the rest of their lives in a state of recovery, even if they have learned and found what they needed. In other words, even the most secure person who has found these treasures as an adult will "fall off the wagon" once in a while, will succumb to self doubt and insecurity. They, too, will usually deny this. However, having once found what they needed, they usually recover.

The only real solution to this deficit in the lives of so many adults is to teach new parents what they should know to give their children what they need. Since so many of today's adults don't have that knowledge or those skills, the fastest way to get them into the right hands is to actively teach them in classes, such as at night school.

Just as Lamaze classes have become immensely popular because young adults want to know how to get through the birthing process properly, classes in parenting would be extremely popular with young adults because they want to be good parents.

They want to be good parents. They need the opportunity to learn.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book for parents and teachers about what they need to learn to give children what they need, when they need it. It's a lifeline, a starter course in book form.
Learn more at

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stuff You Probably Didn't Want To Know About The US Surgeon General

Stuff You Probably Didn't Want To Know About The US Surgeon General

Created in 1871, the post of Surgeon General of the United States was the top position in the Marine Hospital Service. The SG's job was to stop the spread of diseases carried to US shores by merchant marines.

John Maynard Woodworth, the first to hold the post, developed a mobile group of doctors called the Commissioned Corps. Until 1971, the Surgeon General served in the Commissioned Corps. Since then the SG's only commitment has been to agree with everything the US president says.
The Commissioned Corps remains today as one of only seven services of the United States government that completes its work in uniform (not including postal carriers).

During the First World War, SG Rupert Blue included cigarettes as part of the basic field rations kit issued to men fighting in the US military.

It wasn't until 1964 that Surgeon General Luther Terry published a report accusing tobacco smoke as one of the prime causes of cancer. This triggered both the Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act and an enormous campaign by Big Tobacco to deny, bribe, obfuscate studies and intimidate politicians in the position of passing legislation that would limit the profits of tobacco companies.

President George H.W. Bush's Surgeon General, Antonia Novello, continued the assault on Big Tobacco. Her brother-in-law, Don Novello, played the role of chain-smoking priest Father Guido Sarducci on Saturday Night Live and at other comedy venues.

Back in 1930, then Surgeon General Hugh Cumming initiated the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Its purpose was to study the effects of untreated syphilis in African American men. Again, that's cases of syphilis among African American men who received absolutely no treatment. The program continued under the next six Surgeons General.

The Tuskegee study was stopped only in 1973 was it was declared unethical, the judgment being that it's not healthy to leave syphilis untreated, no matter what skin colour a victim has. Fortunately, as syphilis (the treponema pallidum spirochete) can be transmitted through placenta, the study was not carried out with African American women.

In 1981, President Reagan's Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, gained notoriety by writing candidly about the risks of AIDS. In a brochure he had mailed to every house in the United States, he wrote about sexuality and the dangers of unprotected sex.

Though he withstood the uproar his little publication aroused for bringing the subject of sex to public notice, the first black Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, didn't fare so well. She wanted sex education to be taught in schools so that kids would grow up knowing how to protect themselves from AIDS when they became sexually active. She was fired after only 15 months, the shortest term of any SG.

At a United Nations conference on AIDS, Elders was asked about masturbation as an alternative to sexual intercourse. She supported the idea. Alas, the morality police (once they recovered from swallowing their tongues in shock that anyone would even say the word masturbation out loud) went to work and made short work of her career. No audio or video tapes of that question and reply exist today, so her exact words remain unknown except to a few who were there in person.

Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, under President George W. Bush, was asked to censor his reports on embryonic stem cell research, contraception and his opinions about abstinence-only as a method of contraception studied in sex education classes. Bush also asked Carmona to sprinkle Bush's name at least three times on each page of every speech he gave.

Draconian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, subsequently executed, was also known to insist that scientists include the name of their revered president in their speeches and writings.

SG Carmona was at one time a high school dropout. However, he received the Gold-Headed Cane award for his outstanding service with the Vietnam Special Forces. He also served as a paramedic and nurse. He went on to be a top graduate at the University of California Medical school.

President Dubya's nomination for Surgeon General of James W. Holsinger received great resistance because of Holsinger's reputation as anti-gay. In writing for the United Methodist Church, in 1991, he claimed that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy. Subsequently, studies have shown that homosexuals have a few notable physiological differences from heterosexuals, not the least being a considerable difference in the size of one part of their brain. No one knows why that is, yet.

Acting Surgeon General Robert A. Whitney, who served as SG between Novello and Elders, was a veterinarian. Despite jokes to the contrary, the US health infrastructure did not go to the dogs on Whitney's watch.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, when and what to teach children so they know enough to live healthy lives as adults.
Learn more at

Primary resource: Discover, October 2007

Monday, January 21, 2008

Objectives: Peace And Happiness

I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later.
- Mitch Hedberg, stand-up comic

Good line. Seems like one you would laugh at then throw away. Let's look closer.

"I'm sick of following my dreams." If you take the words literally, he has followed something but doesn't know what the destination is. Without knowing the objective or goal of a project, it would be hard to commit to it.

Imagine someone dreaming about peace in the world. Something many people wish for, but don't take seriously. They don't take it seriously because they have no idea how peace could be accomplished. They might take some initiatives, such as attending a seminar or being part of a demonstration for peace, but these activities are usually without goals or objectives (other than to advance the careers or reputations of the organizers).

It wouldn't take long or participation in many events for peace before most people would realize that it's a wish without a goal or even a plan to achieve it.

What would peace in the world look like? Surely genocide such as we have seen all too often in the past century would be a thing of the past. War might be forbidden, by international decree, with intervention by the United Nations (an independent security force) or some future version of NATO being a requirement where two or more parties seemed unwilling or unable to participate in dialogue.

Compared to today, Iraq was peaceful before the fall of Saddam and Afghanistan was at peace before the fall of the Taliban. Would rule by an iron-fisted theocracy be acceptable, or a dictatorship where one culture dominated others within the same country be tolerated?

Looking closer to home (for those of us not in war zones), would pharmaceutical companies still be able to control medical studies and sway democratic governments to make people believe that living unhealthy lifestyles and taking drugs to try to fix what we broke ourselves be allowed to continue?

Most health authorities with a conscience agree that too many people live unhealthy lifestyles that cause them to contract cancer, diabetes and dozens of other afflictions, resulting in their deaths much earlier than the average. Would democratic governments in peacetime fund and promote the results of fair studies so that everyone would know what their bodies need and what kinds of activities would compromise their health?

Would oil companies that now make fortunes daily by supplying fuel to fighting militaries settle for simply providing fuel for homes and vehicles and industries that manufacture hundreds of the items most of us use every day?

Would our religions that have continued to gain our attention, devotion and contributions for centuries be able to convert from their violence-supporting ways to teaching us how to live in harmony? No other existing agencies could manage such a mammoth task.

Peace, like many dreams, remains elusive so long as we don't have a clear idea of what it would mean. We can't reach an objective if we don't know what objective to aim for. Most people, I suspect, would have little idea what a world at peace would be like and how life would change for them.

Peace can only be achieved one person at a time, one mind at a time, one life at a time. Until we can feel peace within ourselves, we can never know peace in our families, our communities, our countries or the world.

Peace, like happiness, begins within ourselves. If we look for them from others, we will never achieve them.

Each of us is like a state within one body. Until that state is at peace within itself, it can't manage to have peaceful relations with other states. Until the state is happy with itself, it will have trouble being happy with others.

Dream what you like, but know the objective you want or you will never achieve it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, when and what to teach children so that they can lead peaceful and healthy adult lives, even if their parents grew up on a different kind of environment.
Learn more at

Friday, January 18, 2008

Becoming Better Than The Rest

Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.
- Abdul Baha, one of the founders and an early leader of the Baha'i faith

This advice not only proves difficult to employ, but it's unnatural. In nature, while adults may work together for mutual gain on some occasions within a limited number of species, much of the time "others" are the enemy, competitors for food, mating and resting locations.

Why should we have loving kindness for others when nature tells us that they are enemies and competitors? Moreover, why should we treat them with loving kindness when they care very little or not at all for us?

Because we tell each other that we are different from other animals. Acting instinctively--as nature dictates--makes us no different from other animals.

How can we rise above our natural instincts to be better than other animals? The same way we came to believe that we are better than other animals. We learned that. We can learn how to act the role rather than just pretending that we are better.

That requires us to learn from others who have the knowledge and skills to share with us how to be better. They are few. Others who will teach us humanized ways of being no better than any other animal surround us. Our news, stock market reports, reality shows, beauty pageants, even the various Apprentice programs of Donald Trump show us how to be "natural," to be humanized apes. And they work. People learn from them and they like them.

Those who know how to be better are reserved about demonstrating their knowledge and skills publicly. Jesus of Nazareth did and see how his own people (fellow Jews) treated him in his last days. The Islamic Prophet Mohammed did. His enemies vowed to annihilate him, but instead he roused his people and became a great warrior and conqueror. Neither of those choices comes easy for most of us.

Many are those who will teach us how to live lives of peace. Their teaching often comes in the form of a religion, which allows them the option of receiving "donations" for their teachings.

The truest teachers don't want us to be just learners. Instead they want us to learn ourselves, then to teach others. Living life on a higher plain than humanized apes requires those who know to teach those who want to learn.

It doesn't require us to kill anyone, to become a warrior or to be crucified. Just to learn, offer to teach, then to follow through if our offer is accepted.

Our world does not suffer from a lack of good people. We have too few good leaders who will teach. Without them, we now have few people who publicly state that they would like to learn. Without teachers, the students revile learning. Others have turned to leaders with more earthly motives, leaders who want you to ape (follow) them.

We each were born with free will, the freedom to choose what we want to do with our lives. The first step is to find out what the options are. Second is to choose wisely, then commit to living that way and to teaching it to those who want to learn.

Remember, those who want us to choose their humanized ape lifestyles are extremely aggressive about promoting their philosophy of life. Lacking much opposition from opposing beliefs, they are winning the hearts and minds of a large majority of people all over the world.

The wise among us need not become warriors or be aggressive. But we shouldn't be quiet either. The leaders with the most effective propaganda win. Noisy or not.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of blueprints for teaching children, plans that are already being used by the leaders of industry and need to be used as effectively by those who want something better.
Learn more at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rise Above The Dumbosity Of Others

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.
- Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

This way of dealing with offences would be very difficult today because so many people act in offensive ways, by intention and by their neglect of commitments they have made.

Developer of the dualistic theory (or philosophy) of mind and matter--everything we know can be designated to one category or the other--Descartes fully believed that more exists than can be attributed to either matter or energy. Science today tries to teach us different from that, claiming that anything beyond matter and energy is pure fantasy or hallucination.

Using this theory of everything that is known, called materialism, science today encourages us to believe that anything that cannot be proven to exist or that at least doesn't have the potential to be proven is nothing more than imagination. That includes the concept of God, which materialists believe is fantasy.

So believers in materialism have created their own god, known to some as manna, to others as money. They believe that any activity that has nothing to do with either the acquisition of money (including investing it) or the spending of money is worthless, time wasted. Money, they claim, has provable value.

One of the key problems of materialists attributing so much to human imagination is that imagination cannot be designated as either energy or matter. Imagination, itself, defies category in materialist terms. So does free will. So do ESP (extra-sensory perception), presentiment, telepathy, premonition, foreboding, precognition, the Evil Eye (some form of which exists in almost every culture on earth) and even the sense of being started at or watched from behind you. An abundance of both carefully conducted scientific experimentation and collected anecdotes exists to prove all of these.

As one Indian materialist scientist told me recently, "I like living in a world where I know that everything can be proven to exist." As I have a great deal of respect for the intellect of this man, I held myself back from telling him that I refused to believe that he exists because he might be nothing more than a fraudulent persona on the Internet.

Sometimes we just have to rise above temptations that will serve no good to engage in. That's the point Descartes was making. Sometimes the issues simply aren't worth the trouble. Often the offender isn't.

To have the ability to detach yourself from the temptation to engage in worthless debate or argument with no possibility of concluding satisfactorily because at least one party persists in intellectual blindness is one clear mark of wisdom.

Refusing to engage in debate or argument where you might lose, but gain knowledge in the process, does not qualify as wisdom. It qualifies as intellectual cowardice.

The world is filled with people who function barely above the level of retardedness. It doesn't need any more people who are reticent about participating in discussion on topics other than work, the weather or sports for fear of being shown up as knowing very little.

It's amazing how much you can learn by losing an argument you thought out well and presented with confidence. Or by listening with a critical ear.

Humankind did not get this far in its evolution by avoiding thinking. Though, to judge by many people we meet each day, you might wonder.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, when and what to teach children so that they can be lifelong learners who will not step back from fruitful discussion and learning or teaching opportunities.
Learn more at

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are You Afraid To Die?

Today I am sufficiently exhausted that I can understand and empathize with people who want to die.

What I have trouble understanding is why people fear dying. I don't.

Following a traumatic event in my life in 1997, I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). For people with the most severe cases of CFS, just getting out of bed to go to the bathroom or to eat at a table can be either exhausting or painful or both. Mine was not that severe.

By the time I had finished breakfast on most days, I was so exhausted that I had to have a nap for an hour. Two or three naps followed through the day. Only when I took myself too far, beyond the point of being simply tired, would I have pain in every muscle in my body. I tried to avoid that. That's dumb. But it didn't always work.

Sometimes, going beyond the critical point becomes necessary. As a result of a series of coincidences, in the first half of 2007 I had more jobs to do than my body could manage. I got excessively tired every day. Recovery was not an option (is not even today) because the jobs that couldn't be avoided had to be done or my ability to sustain myself as a person would have collapsed.

When people get too tired, especially when excessive fatigue continues for a prolonged period of time, they begin to think strange thoughts. No matter how much sleep or rest (relaxing horizontally or sitting) a person gets, if the exhaustion continues the person can develop symptoms like that of sleep deprivation. Irritability, moodiness, impatience, intolerance of others or themselves, making mistakes that wouldn't have happened under normal circumstances, distancing themselves from loved ones and more problems ease themselves seamlessly into their life.

Sometimes, thoughts can turn to death. That could mean suicide, murder or murder-suicide. If severe enough, such as in some cases of post partum depression, it could even involve a mother killing her own baby, "to protect" the child.

Thoughts, discussion or proposals having anything to do with death are taboo in western cultures. Consequently we don't address their causes. "Go to the doctor." "Take a drug to make you happy." Pharmaceutical responses to problems or stress and other problems related to mental health of the 1960s and 1970s, primarily taking tranquilizers, evolved into taking a variety of drugs today. Some want to make smoking marijuana legal simply because so many people use it illegally, possibly as high as 25 percent of adults.

While people discuss the taking of drugs with emotional vigor, taking one side or the other, debate never turns to the subject of death and rarely to ways to avoid the effects of stress in the first place. In a materialistic society with an industrial mindset, normal conversation involves apparently healthy people talking about any subject other than death or social change to avoid the causes of stress that destroy so many lives.

The most important fact that we avoid talking about with those who may be suffering the effects of stress or some cause that makes another person consider suicide or murder is that the critical time in their life will pass, that they will feel better about life later. Discussion of how to reduce stress is not a popular topic among those with the industrial mindset. People who talk about stuff like that tend to be "out there somewhere," extreme liberals, aged hippies, not those in the mainstream of business culture.

One topic that everyone agrees on is that death is bad. Death must be avoided at all costs, even if it requires a person to remain in pain for years or to suffer in an institutional environment with most elements we consider as freedom removed. We don't know why. We don't discuss it so we never find out.

We have been told that death is painful, for one thing. In fact, it seldom is. For most people, even those who die unexpectedly or as a result of violence, death comes peacefully and as a release from the burden of life. Compared to many of the painful experiences of life, death is blissful. What comes before death, including treatment in a hospital, may be painful, but death is not.

You have likely heard of those who have returned from the brink of death, from near-death experiences or who have "come back from being clinically dead" speak of feeling at peace, of seeing a bright white light, of being welcomed to the next life. Even those who claim to have had out of body experiences, of seeing their bodies from above an operating table where their fleshly existence lay in clinical death, say that death was not to be feared, was not painful.

I don't propose that we encourage people to end their lives when they feel that life is no longer worth the pain and trouble. I do propose that we change our attitudes toward death and the stressors of life so that we can all live more peaceful, safe and loving lives.

Love is part of the equation. Those under constant stress have trouble feeling love, expressing love and accepting love.

The same may be said of people in depression. The odd thing about depression is that we know how to avoid it most of the time. Health experts know how it develops, why it develops and how to avoid it. But, except for a relatively small number of experts who put themselves out to help others through rough times, most health experts stay away from the subjects of depression, thoughts of suicide and stress.

Nothing improves when we refuse to talk about a subject that impacts the lives of everyone, either directly, indirectly through loved ones or friends, or both.

We may not be certain about what's "on the other side" of death. That doesn't mean that we should avoid talking about what's on this side. It could save many lives.

It could save your life one day.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about what, when and how to teach children what they need to know to live healthy adult lives, free of excess stress and fear.
Learn more at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How To Achieve Peace

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
- Thomas a Kempis, German ecclesiastic (1380-1471)

Those who live without peace in themselves will not acknowledge the truth of this quote, cannot understand the concept, will scoff at those who use it and teach it.

Could US President George W. Bush, the self-acknowledged "war president," have peace within himself? He believed that beginning a war in Afghanistan would bring peace to his own country. Is his country more at peace today than it was in 2001?

He was going to "liberate" the oppressed people of Iraq, to bring them peace after a generation of living under Saddam Hussein. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam is dead and many of the citizens of Iraq look back longingly at the maybe-not-so-bad old days of Saddam's dictatorship.

Though Mr. Bush seems to have settled his differences with North Korea's Kim Jong Il (the memory of neighbouring Vietnam lingers strong in the memories of American people), it remains to be seen if he will find some excuse to invade Iran before the end of his term of office. Imagine the distinction he would have in US history if he were able to launch three wars within two terms of office!

Nobody wins a war, neither the loser nor the winner. Bush's wars have cost the US so dearly that the country has all but lost its status as having the currency against which other countries compare the value of their own. China will soon pass the US as the most powerful trading nation on earth. The people of every city in the United States live under a constant alert warning in preparation one knows what.

As the US primaries leading up to the vote in November progress, debates, backbiting and infighting are much as expected, but the level of emotion in ordinary conversations daily has risen as people anticipate the possibility that their once-great nation may be reduced to a second level power, with all of the anxieties of the homeland of an empire but little of the wealth it had in the past.

Thomas a Kempis was of course interested in the peace of individuals. But individuals collectively make nations. Nations that teach the values of war and violence to their children are nations that engage in war and violence.

The only way to have peaceful individuals and a peaceful country is to teach peace to the children. India, for example, is a nation that teaches peace to its children. Though India has its share of violent incidents, the amount of violence in the country of one billion people is far less than that in much smaller countries. India has not invaded another country in the past 1000 years (though it did step in, by request, to stop the slaughter of the people of East Pakistan--now Bangladesh--by the army of West Pakistan in 1971).

Teach right. Teach good. Teach peace. When these become the structure within which children are given their education, they become the guides for living once those children become adults.

Good and peaceful people are seldom aggressive. However, when they leave the running of their country to the aggressive and violent people, the country becomes aggressive and violent because the leaders teach the need for these "to achieve peace." It's a lie. It doesn't work. It has never worked. So wars have become the means for seeking peace. So the warriors say.

All it takes is for enough people to talk about this concept of peace and to vote accordingly in elections.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, when and what to teach children, including the concepts of peace, good and right. The book includes practical guides for teachers and parents.
Learn more at

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Where Has All The Nature Gone?

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity ... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
- William Blake, English poet, painter, printmaker (1757-1827)

Living as I do in a forest, beside a lake, I have the opportunity to see nature at its finest and its most agitated. Just today, for example, our electrical service returned after being off for two days due to a storm that caused so much damage and brought so many trees down over so many electrical wires that the repairmen had to travel each line looking for problem after problem.

Yet each morning my wife and I sit in our living room, with our morning coffee and a little "morning cake" and look out over the lake to a scene which has never been identical for any two days we have been viewing it for the past 12 years. City people who own cottages in the area would say that the scene changes only from dark to light and from season to season. We see differently.

As of this year, for the first time in human history, more people will live in cities than in rural settings. What does it mean? If greenhouse gases really are responsible for global warming, the problem begins in cities where people have very little to do with nature on a regular basis. Our atmosphere, our oceans, our disappearing forests, our desertifying drylands, our increasingly liquid Arctic, on the other hand, are almost completely devoid of people. People don't care much about what they can't see.

My wife and I struggle to live in harmony with our trees and the rest of nature. They destroy our roof shingles in half the expected lifespan the manufacturers suggest. They prevent flowers and other plants from growing in some places, with the pines even making the soil alkaline (toxic to some plants) by dropping needles all year long. Raccoons, birds and other assorted animals mess up our compose as they chow down on food matter we couldn't eat. That's just for starters.

The city folks at their cottages don't have such problems. They cut down most of the trees ("to let in more light"), forgetting that trees provide natural cooling in summer by keeping sunlight off the roofs, as well as creating oxygen. They plant their denuded properties with grass, in an effort to make them look more like the aristocratic mansions of England (which they envy).

Then they build the mansions themselves, most of which exceed 2000 square feet--some up to 10,000 square feet--far more space than they can possibly use or keep clean on thier weekend visits (they hire cleaners). But the properties impress visitors (also from the cities) who Ooooo! and Aaaaaa!, make noises of praise and drink up all the offered alcohol and drugs.

Meanwhile the wilderness transforms into ghettoes of nature as the cottagers turn long term walking and hiking trails into paths for their all-terrain vehicles, their snowmobiles and their 4 x 4 SUVs (aka "Jeeps") unfit for human walkers and places to avoid for deer, bears, foxes, coyotes, moose and heaven only knows what else.

Cities, despite the efforts in recent years by planners to provide some semblance of nature for their un-natural (sometimes nature-phobic) denizens to enjoy, have become sterile places where nature is treated like zoo specimens, something to be viewed in small doses on rare occasions.

Does the dearth of real nature in cities cause people to lose their imaginations, as we might use as a corollary to Blake's quote? Not necessarily. But if you want to demonstrate your imagination in the city, you had better have money to support yourself, be prepared to endure the hostility of others toward your efforts (or create in silence) and possibly endure the odd visit to a courtroom (as defendant).

Is there a solution to this dissociation or alienation of city dwellers from nature? Yes. We need to teach children about nature so they know that everything they eat comes from it and every excess they enjoy will have a negative impact on it.

When children have the opportunity to be close to nature, to appreciate it and learn from and about it, they gain a treasure and a spirit toward nature that they will not lose for a lifetime. Without that early contact with nature, the most involved that many people will get is to grieve over the warming of our planet. But not while they drive their SUVs to the cottage.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children the lessons and skills they need to live healthy, well balanced and well adjusted adult lives so they know they are part of nature not separate from it.
Learn more at

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You Can Do It

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.
- Helen Keller (1880-1968)

The irony of a blind woman advising people to look the world straight in the face delighted me. Helen Keller certainly did.

Blind and deaf from the age of 19 months, she went from being a fully sensitive baby to a young child that could feel, smell and taste, but had no other method to gather information about her world during her most critical formative years. She became as much as most of us could imagine a wild child to be. In effect, she was an uncaged animal who hurt herself as well as anyone who tried to help her.

Yet she became a college graduate, lecturer and writer who was especially well known for her inspirational work and her championing of the cause of deaf and blind people. While she could neither hear nor see? Yes, without any ability to see or hear through the senses we normally associate with these functions.

A home-school teacher, Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), brought Helen out of the abyss that was her life, taught her how to learn from others and to communicate with them. Anne became Helen's companion for life. Sadly, Anne died before Keller reached the height of her fame and consequently she received far more attention and praise for her miraculous work after her death than before. Anne taught Helen, Helen taught the world.

Helen Keller told us all to hold our heads high. That doesn't mean that we should ignore our weaknesses or the dark events that happen around us. It means that we should look beyond them to see the objectives we want to achieve.

Many of us get bogged down with the problems of our days. Relatively small problems take huge shapes and unsettle us far more than they should. In fact, most of those problems will have been forgotten a few years after they seemed so unmanageable to us. Helen says that we should treat them with the respect they deserve: attention, but not emotion. Work through the problems and get past them to push on with the rest of our lives.

How does a deaf and blind woman go through college, become an inspiring speaker and a well known writer? Were people impressed simply because she could speak and write although she was blind and deaf? And a woman at that, having grown up in a time when women couldn't even vote?

Helen Keller didn't usually dwell on her problems or her accomplishments in public. She just kept telling people that their problems would pass and that they could make more of themselves if they believed they could. That, more than anything else, was the reason she became famous.
She inspired everyone to do better. She persisted with that message and the world listened.
They liked what they heard so much that they came to look past her physical impediments. She wasn't just as good as any normal person, she was better than any normal person because she not only improved herself but she inspired so many others to grow themselves into better people.

That was enough. Go and do likewise.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children what they need to know to become competent and confident adults who don't succumb to their problems.
Learn more at

Sunday, January 06, 2008

What You Should Want From Life

The great secret of getting what you want from life is to know what you want and believe you can have it.
- Norman Vincent Peale
That's pretty easy, right? After all, you have no possibility of getting what you want if you don't believe you can get it.
The problem is that many people--maybe even a majority, but the situation has not been studied sufficiently to say for certain--don't know what they want from life.
Ask most people and their answers will be exactly or somehow related to happiness and money. They'll even say "I know that money can't buy happiness, but I'd like to give it a try." They have no idea how they might go about getting that money they would like, nor do they have a plan to put into effect that would make them different from the people in all the tragic stories they have heard about people who became suddenly rich.
Their way to get money, for most who don't have real plans, is to gamble. Lotteries are the favourite sport. The fact that they might have a better chance of being hit by lightning and survive twice in their lifetime than of winning a lottery deters them not. Whatever amount of cash they spend on lottery tickets they tell themselves is their small way of treating themselves.
These people who would like to have lots of money don't have a viable way to get it. And if they did, they would likely blow it all or allow it to ruin their lives.
Happiness, though, should be a grand objective, shouldn't it? Sure. What's happiness? The people who wish for it have no clear concept of what happiness is, how they could recognize it in others or how they could become happy themselves.
Money, happiness and all the attendant benefits that go with them are artificial needs or life objectives created by industries to sell their products. Think not? Just watch how much "fun" people have shopping for themselves. What do you do when you're feeling blue? Take more vitamin D? No, go shopping. The ads and commercials tell us how to live our lives.
Most people who conduct their lives like this find themselves in the latter years of middle age (they never get old, that would be against what the commercials teach) settling for belief that they must have found happiness because they have followed what the advertising told them to do for so many years.
Do you want my opinion about what you should want from life? If you silently answered Yes to that question, then you are still prepared to take someone else's word for what you should want from your life rather than to make up your mind for yourself, to be in control of your own future, your own destiny, your own purpose in life.
Money and happiness are shallow objectives for life. They're selfish, perhaps even narcissistic. People who choose these as life goals have nothing much to show for their lives when they die. And that is exactly what industries want of us, to be spent out.
If you want to get some ideas about objectives for your own life, ask a few people who have worked to improve the lives of others. That might be by mentoring, helping in a homeless shelter, giving help to kids or adults who are trying to learn to read, offering to help elderly people who are having difficulty holding their own in the house they have lived in for decades or any of myriad ways that people help each other.
Don't look to advertising for answers. Any situation where people want you to give money to achieve happiness will not likely deliver the goods for you.
It's your life. You should make it mean something while you can.
Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives as adults (and as kids).
Learn more at

What Women Don't Know About Men

The most important issue where women overestimate men is in believing that men know what they're doing. We don't. Most of us know how to do a few things very well. Some not even that, though they think they do. We convince ourselves that it's enough, that we have value because of these few bits of knowledge or skill. We may be totally ignorant about most of what's around us, but we cling to those few things we know as if they have eternal worth.

Men learn very young (usually in early adolescence) to not ask questions. ("Never let them see you sweat." "Act confident at all times." "Make them think you know what you're doing all the time, even if you don't have a clue.") As most men don't have time to read--they're too busy furthering their careers--and they don't dare ask questions, most men live in a self imposed state of blissful ignorance for much of their lives. Only one man in 20 reads more than three books a year; most read none that are not related to their work.

When it comes to what men know about women, most men would have trouble writing more than two paragraphs. The rare man could fill a whole page. He's probably gay, or a psychologist. The psychologist is probably wrong.

Women seem to believe that all men think about is sex. This is patently false. We also think about sports. And occasionally about work, at least until a female walks past.

The one and often only purpose of males in animal species that reproduce sexually is to reproduce, to pass along their genes to as many offspring as possible. Nature programmed men to assess the potential as sperm donor recipients of every female with curves greater than a lead pencil. No exceptions, including no exclusions for odd numbers of appendages, size of tits, length (or indeed existence) of hair, height, weight, skin colour or brightness of the eyes. Although these may be factors that come into play in the actual assessment.

Humans offspring require about two decades (these days, even more) to become self sufficient. This means that fathers must provide both protection and provision (financial) services for much longer than they do in most species. Human fathers have turned the job of protecting their young over to police and teachers, whom they can now blame for neglect rather than themselves. Most don't teach their kids how to protect themselves. Few teach them how to earn a living or to live a balanced life.

Judging by the number of books and courses available to prospective, impending and new fathers, society places little value on fatherhood. Most men become fathers knowing virtually nothing about what a child needs from a father. What they know about fatherhood is what they learned by example from their own fathers, which is usually faulty and shockingly incomplete (to be kind).

If the primary purpose of men is to have sex (by far the preferred method for reproduction), you might suppose that men have highly developed skills and knowledge about how to get a woman into bed. This stuff would have passed from father to son, brother to brother, friend to friend, for generations immemorial. No.

Most men have little more knowledge about seducing women than their prehistoric ancestors did. The ones who lived in caves and trees. A few men know a great deal about seducing women. Unfortunately, these are not the kind of men that most women want to father their children. The women who marry men who know a great deal about sex and seducing women regret it later. They practise too much away from home.

Men often ask the question "What do women want?" If they ask this of themselves when they are alone, the question remains unanswered until they fall asleep. If the question is asked among a group of men, the silence is so thick you could almost taste it, for an unusually long period of time. Then someone suggests getting another beer and the conversation moves on to something to do with sports.

Many men have lots of opinions about sports, at least about their favourites. However, they usually know little more about the subjects than they do about battles of the gladiators. An encyclopedic memory for facts works for broadcast commentators, but it's not appreciated among a group of men. Men can discuss a sport for hours precisely because not a single one of them knows enough to be the ultimate authority.

Men are, after all, physical beings. Like our ancestors who hunted while their females stayed at home gathering berries and inventing agriculture, most men like something heavy and physical in nature to do, even if they have to sit in front of the TV for hours watching it. Some even participate. For a few, mowing the lawn serves the need for physical activity without the conflict involved with most sports.

Conflict in sports always involves touching each other, even in non-contact sports such as basketball. Men will never admit to liking to touch other men or to be touched by other men. It's all done in a macho, team spirit, inspirational kind of way. Loving touch, we believe, is only for gays. We don't know why we believe that. Somebody told us. Often.

Consequently, men know almost nothing about their own personal need for touch from others. When it comes to lovingly touching their mate or the female objective of their current quest, most men are more ill at ease than they were on their first day of kindergarten. They don't really know what to do, unless they have watched videos. Men who have watched videos about enhancing their sexual lives are few, which means that those who can satisfy their women in this way are scarce. We believe there is something perverted about watching videos about people having sex. Unless it's porn.

Many men have seen porn movies. However, when they try to reproduce what they saw in the movies, they find their mates less interested in groping, thrashing and moaning than the porn queens. Which results in their believing that their partners simply don't know how to do it. Their women are sexually inadequate, they believe, though they consider themselves quite knowledgeable, having learned from the professionals.

Their partners seldom want to "do it" as often as the porn queens, so they feel they must look for extra sexual gratification elsewhere. This is usually not received by their committed female partners with grace and gentility. The women usually want more too, but more of what their men are reluctant to give, including loving touch, extended foreplay and some sweet talk. For most men, sweet talk involves praise for specific flavours of ice cream.

In conclusion, lady readers, you may incorrectly assume that your men want the same things as you do. They could, eventually, but only if you teach them. Couch what you say in words that suggest that what will satisfy you most is what you want them to learn. Men want to please women, if only to make their mates more interested in more sex more often.

And men, if you read this far without getting angry or falling asleep, get over it. If you disagree with most of this, you're not "average." For average, you have to lower the bar quite a bit. But, chances are, you're aroused again.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book that will teach you nothing about sex, but lots about how to be a good and effective parent after your days of sexual excesses are over.
Learn more at

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lock Up Your Daughters!

It shocked me. It disgusted me. I wanted to hurt someone.

The headline screamed out from the cover of Toronto Life magazine: Lock Up Your Daughters. Surely the magazine used a metaphor to make itspoint. But no, the headline on the article itself read "Bring Me YourDaughters." The feudal Dark Ages had returned.

As Toronto Life is not inclined toward promoting the businesses of pimps--at least of the kind that markets prostitutes--it had to refer tothe next worst fate for young girls: the quest for top models.

"Top" meaning what? Those who will fetch top dollars at fashion shows that use raised runways, exotic lightning and sometimes even dry ice "smoke." Fetch top dollars for themselves? Hardly. Fetch the big bucks for their managers. The runway pimps.

Before the article even began, enlarged font letters in bold print told of "the champagne-soaked world of giddy teens [and] back-stabbing agents." The titles began to mean something. It wasn't good.

This world was what the magazine warned parents of teenage girls to avoid. In short, the life of Paris Hilton, only without the enormous fame, publicity and public relations managers.

How, pray tell, did the magazine intend for parents to avoid their daughters wanting to adopt this life? The article didn't say. It went onto describe the professional activities of "├╝ber-agent" Elmer Olsen whose clients have become A-list models around the world. The man creates Paris Hiltons of the runway.

Why would any young woman want to become a "top model"?

When they were young children (under the age of 11), their parents wanted to protect them from the ugly world of modelling, of drugs and alcohol, of having no home life or roots, of associating with people who wanted to pimp them as modelling whores. The parents kept information about this career choice from the kids. That and a whole lot more.

While that practice became a habit ("They're still too young!"), the children grew into adolescence. Throughout the history of our species, our young were trained to cope with the rigours of the adult world when they were little. By the time they reached adolescence, they were considered to be adults, with almost all adult responsibilities, but still retaining the tie to parents who could guide them when they needed support or answers to tough questions. The parent-child psychological umbilical stretched, but it wasn't cut completely.

Today's parents want their children to be independent, so they aren't always momma's boys or girls, but they don't want to enlighten the kids about what the real world they will soon face is like. Consequently they don't have occasions to discuss either reasons for avoiding risky lifestyles and habits or the coping skills needed to get out of trouble if they should find themselves in over their heads.

All the kids see of Paris Hilton is glamour, popularity, expensive clothing, "slightly" bad behaviour that seems like fun, and lots of "friends." To an adolescent, especially one who is socially inept because his or her parents have kept them in the dark about the realities of life around them, having friends is just about the most important thing in their lives.

They don't know that the easiest kind of friends to find are those who will put their lives most at risk. They don't know the dark side of fame and glamour, the enormous self destruction of drugs, the alienating effects of alcohol abuse, the devastation of gambling addiction. All they know is what they see. And it looks like fun from their point ofview.

Lock up your teenage daughters? No, not necessary. Just stop treating your young children like dolls that will never grow up and teach them the skills and the knowledge they need to know about life. Childhood is when kids learn about adulthood without having to act it out.

It's the job of parents to teach, not to protect their children against the real world. Those who want to protect their kids, who want to maintain their innocence as long as possible, ultimately neglect their primary role in life.

Innocent children grow into ignorant adults. Look around you. Don't do it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, an easy-to-read book for parents and grandparents, along withguides for parents and teachers, about what young children need to knowand when to teach it.
Learn more at

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Socrates Didn't Know Much, Nor Do Our Teens

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.
- Socrates, Greek philosopher (470 BCE-399 BCE)

Socrates didn't really know all that much. If he did, he wouldn't have spent his entire adult life asking all those questions.

Okay, asking questions is what we know as the Socratic Method. Socrates wasn't interested so much in the accumulation of facts, as our schools are today. He was interested in developing the ability to think in his students, something that many schools avoid today because they don't want their students figuring out why so much is wrong in their lives and their world.

Through questions, Socrates guided his students to figuring out answers and solutions for themselves. He caused them to think, he drew out parts of their thinking process as a sculpture carves off unwanted chips from the desired perfect statue within.

The more Socrates learned, the more he realized how much more there was to learn. His main focus was human nature and the world around his students, each of which were bottomless pits when it came to the depths to which a person can go to master them. Eventually he knew too much about the true worth of each human being, railed against his military leader for wanting to take Athens into a war it could not win (no one wins a war), and had to sip poison or be run through with a sword to keep him quiet.

Two and a half millennia after Socrates lived, our education systems teach almost nothing about human nature and many parents try to keep their children "innocent" of the ugly world that even they know must face their kids when they grow up. That's western culture, though it's being adopted holus-bolus by India, China and other countries that want to be "developed" into industrial powerhouses with sheep-like workers/consumers supporting their every move so they can gain wealth.

So what happens? The innocent children become ignorant adolescents. But not stupid adolescents. They see what their parents have kept from them, realize how hypocritical they have been in neglecting their duties and responsibilities of preparing their offspring to face the world of adults, and they rebel.

Rebellious teenagers are not a natural function of their age. In many cultures where life skills and human nature are taught actively and purposefully, teens experience no dissociation from the world around them.

In the west, kids rebel because they realize that the world they had been expecting--that their parents had them living in for their first decade--doesn't exist, that it's a cruel, ugly, dog-eat-dog world of greedy others who want everything for themselves and are prepared to give nothing to others to get it.

Almost all of them grow beyond this stage when they find in later years that there are good people, kind people, caring people who are among their neighbours and work mates. The greed and ignorance remains with the majority of people they will know, but at least they will know a few people who care about life in general more than they do about their own wealth and the status of their family.

What's the culture of the world around them while they are in high school? Appearance is the most important factor in securing friends and being popular. Twenty years later they see that the attractive kids in high school have poor relationships, poor self image and struggle with getting good jobs unless they have developed skills to go along with their looks. But in high school, the best looking kids hold the top of the social heap.

Music is extremely important to teens. In recent studies, 89 percent of teens said that it's the most important thing in life other than their friends (which tied at 89 percent). Too many parents wonder why their teenaged kids are so devoted to their music. But the parents pay no attention to the words of the music (if they could understand them) and the emotional satisfaction the kids get out of experiencing the music. They don't ask, maybe because they don't want to know the answers.

Teens want very little (in some cases, no) physical contact with their parents (the rebellious ones especially), yet they crave the touch of their peers. They join sports where touching is part of the game. Their dancing, though ostensibly individual, has them coming in intimate contact with their partners, even if the partners might be strangers. Petting and sex (at least to some degree) is a peer expectation.

They want to touch each other, but not necessarily their parents, because their parents have deprived them of the amount of loving touch they needed as younger children. Their peers also want to be touched, so they have lots of willing touch partners for the various touching activities in which they participate. And they find many ways to touch.

Teens get what they lacked in their younger years. They dislike the hypocrisy of their parents who hid the realities of the world from them. But they don't have a source where they can learn to think for themselves unless they go to one of a few schools that specialize in these skills. Most don't have that opportunity.

Importantly, they don't develop the habit of learning for a lifetime, the way Socrates taught his students. They don't ask questions, being afraid to show themselves as lacking knowledge. They pay others to do what they need when they don't know how to do for themselves. Or they do without. Asking questions, it seems, is a sign of weakness among this generation. They learned that from their parents, whom most acknowledge are their primary sources of information about life (88 percent).

At the same time we have an older generation that has learned the hard way, flying by the seats of their pants, that is all too willing to share what they have learned so that the kids don't have to go through the viciously tough learning process they did--trial and error, by making mistakes and learning from them. We have an older generation that knows what they younger generation wants to know, but the younger ones won't ask because they have learned that asking shows weakness and submission.

Where are the Socrates's of today, asking questions to help students learn to think for themselves and to know where to find answers? Alas, few can be found in classrooms.

In the United States, the average teaching career today is five years. Teachers who don't rigorously follow the curriculum, who teach their students to think, come under such pressure from the administration that they leave before they are asked to sip poison themselves.
Socrates, the man, never wrote down a word of what he taught. Yet he is fondly remembered today, millennia later. There's a role model to follow.

Teach young people to think, to ask questions, to learn where they can learn what they need to know. Nobody knows all the answers today. The best we can do is to teach the younger generation where to look for the answers and solutions they need. That's a critical life skill today.

As you have read this far, you understand your mission. Thanks for reading. We can do this together.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children what they need to know that most aren't getting in schools or at home.
Learn more at