Sunday, August 31, 2008

Your Potential For Magnificence

Nothing will get better so long as you believe the other guy is wrong. He will think you are mistaken, or at least that you misunderstand the situation, or he will deny responsibility.

Nothing changes unless the change you want begins with you. You are the only person whose life is totally within your control.

A snowball rolling down a hill will gather both mass of other snow and momentum until it reaches enormous proportions and has enormous potential energy. Yet only one person is required to make the original snowball.

If everyone says that it's someone else's job to make the snowball, all the potential is lost. Someone must get their hands cold or everyone will take the heat of failure.

If you want the world to change, change yourself first. The world will take note of your marvellous improvement or change and want to have the same for themselves. The world loves a bandwagon, but someone has to hitch up the horses.

Be the change you want. You will be the evidence that it works.

Nothing beneficial has ever happened because of a negative attitude. From a sour look to a war, everything negative fails to make progress or improvement. Those with negative attitudes seldom want to work together with others, except for their personal gain. The old saying that "war makes enemies out of friends" holds true at a personal level as well.

When Jesus of Nazareth advised everyone to "Love your enemies," he didn't mean like your mother or your lover. In his time, everyone was either an enemy or a friend (ally), so he advised us to make friends. Enemies converted to friends can be the truest and most dependable friends of all.

Blaming someone else is personal and selfish. Helping someone else, such as working together to solve a mutual problem, can make friends out of enemies. Making friends is an outflow of self. Making enemies is a costly and selfish way to spend emotional energy.

Someone must always make the first move to make something right and better. You are the only person whose will and whose actions you control.

Start making that snowball and you will be surprised at how many people will join you to push it toward the hill.

When you want to roll a snowball down a hill, always push, never pull. Others like to push, but few like to pull. If you want to make the snowball bigger, just as with a problem, never pull it toward yourself.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who will build rather than destroy, create rather than break down, experience joy rather than depression.
Learn more at

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Schools Teach Children To Be Mindless Consumers

One of my greatest pleasures in writing has come from the thought thatperhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position.Then comes the saddening realization that such people rarely read.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-born American economist (1908-2006)

Alas, Mr. Galbraith's statement bore more truth than even he may have realized.

First of all, a Canadian study a few years ago for McLeans magazine showed that only six percent of Canadian adults read more than three books per year. Considering that many people read books related to their work--indeed, must read them, such as medical doctors and other professionals, to stay up with advances in their respective fields--the number of people who read for pleasure, including those who read nonfiction simply to learn more, must be tragically small.

Although I have not seen similar studies relating to citizens of the USA or other western countries, I have no reason to believe that their reading rates would differ from those of Canadians.

Oh, we read, most of us. We read junk mail delivered to our homes, prodigious quantities of emails that serve us no good, internal memoes that usually mean nothing to us in our workplace and news in newspapers, magazines or on the internet. Those news sources that we choose ourselves tend to be biased, as all news sources are. The news sources we choose tend to all be biased in the same directions, preventing us from getting confused by a wide variety of opinions.

Thus we come to believe that our news sources present a fair and reasonable assessment of the news of the day. If our chosen news sources don't cover a story, it can't be important. Or we simply chose to believe that all other events are of lesser importance such that they don't deserve to breach our personal intellectual radars.

Thereby we funnel ourselves into comfortable grooves where we believe that most other people in the world think like ourselves. It may not be true, but we believe it's true, through practice and habit. Thus we come to take comfortably pretentious positions, as Galbraith noted.

When something that someone says or writes violates the sanctity of our cozy corner of thought, we think that person or organization must be on the fringe, likely dangerous because it might cause others to come around to its position. As we have persuaded ourselves that those who do not think like us are not "normal" or "average" or right, some of us feel it necessary to expunge the sources of such anti-social thought from public consciousness. We bitch and criticize and condemn.

We believe it is only right, indeed our duty, to prevent seditious thoughts from invading the minds of innocent people ("Save the children!") to the possible extent that others begin to think differently from us, in progressively larger numbers.

Eventually, the "we" referenced above get old, become disregarded by the younger generation in power, die off and join history as "those who thought differently in those bygone days." Some of them were strong supporters of slavery, believing that some people (always the social group to which they belonged) were naturally superior to others and had the right to treat them like pets or hunting prey.

The original aboriginal tribe of Newfoundland, Canada, for example, whose skin colour most likely resembled the "red skins" that Europeans began to call all natives of North America, were literally hunted into extinction, for sport. The unsociable Beotuk Indians had a habit of covering their exposed skin with red ochre, making them sufficiently different that Europeans thought they should be eliminated as a threat to social purity.

After that we had men who thought women so intellectually stupid that they should not have the right to vote, to equal pay for equal work, to be treated without abuse or to receive compensation if they were chucked out of their homes by their men (owners) who got tired of them.

Even today we have men in some western societies who believe that war is the only way to subjugate inferior peoples. Our leaders--who may be among these people--may tell lies to persuade enough voters to support going to war with ultra-sophisticated weapons and smart bombs against people who can only defend themselves with knives, rifles and stupid car bombs. Somehow there are still people who will believe that making war is the only and best route to peace.

You can see how pretentious the positions of such people must be, that they will believe the lies of the leaders who secured their positions in the first place by lying to those same people to get elected.

John Kenneth Galbraith, a brilliant man who believed his calling was to teach in a university and to write for university students and graduates, had no answers to the dilemma he posed in our quote. Yet there is a solution. And it's a simple one. And extraordinarily cheap.

Teach the children what we want them to know and to be able to think their way through pretentious and lying positions posed by others who want little more than to twist their minds into believing that their lives only have value if they do what their leaders tell them.

Our school systems are set up on a model that prepares young people to be the workers and consumers of the future. That is their whole purpose. And they do it well. But they don't have to teach creative and eager children to be dull automatons who simply do what their corporate employers want them to do and buy what they are told to buy in advertising.

The primary responsibility of parents is to teach their children what they need to know to be competent and confident adults. Many parents today don't do that. They leave that job to schools, even if they naively want to limit and control what the schools teach to the corporate model.

The situation today is not hopeless, as many believe. Change is possible, but only if people talk about it and find ways to teach new parents what they need to know about raising their children effectively and in a healthy manner.

When enough parents teach their own children properly, without leaving it to schools to do the job many parents abdicate, the school systems will eventually change.

Right now too many parents are too concerned about ensuring that the schools their children attend teach to the corporate model. We can talk about his situation until enough people understand how their minds have been manipulated and how the minds of their children are being molded in ways that are unhealthy for them and for the country.

Just talk about it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who can think for themselves and who need a guide to show what to teach their kids and when.
Learn more at

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why So Many Women Get It So Wrong

For a woman, finding the right man to love her the way she wants to be loved, to be a good father to the children they create together and to provide a healthy, vibrant, creative and enjoyable family environment that will last a lifetime is almost impossible.

Why? While there are many reasons, a few stand out.

Most commonly, a woman goes looking for the wrong guy. Back in prehistoric days, a woman wanted a strong man, the best warrior in the tribe, someone who could provide for and defend her family. If he was good looking, even better. If he fertilized other women, so be it, so long as he looked after the best interests of her family.

That attitude persists today, even though almost everything else in life has changed. Women still want the handsomest, strongest, sexiest guy with demonstrated ability at leadership as he gathers other guys to follow his lead. Anyone who doubts this should check out how girls in the latter years of grade school and in high school tart themselves up for the guys. They may want to be treated as sweet and innocent, but they look and act like hookers because they know what guys like to look at.

No question, guys like to look at attractive women. If they could, they would take every one of them to bed. But they wouldn't necessarily want to spend their lives with them.

If I guy can score with a girl who looks and acts like a hooker, but not have to pay fees, he considers himself a winner. And so would his buddies. But guys don't want to marry hookers, because...they have proven that they have too many other sexual interests. Girls who look like hookers and put out sexual vibes like hookers may get the attention of guys, but those guys don't want to marry them.

The same applies to the captain of the football or basketball team, or any other jock who looks good stripped to...well, stripped. While most girls are attracted to these guys, many have none of the other qualities a woman should be looking for. That "get the best possible male to mate with" attitude persists even though we no longer live in tribes.

The best warrior in the tribe in prehistoric days seldom lived past age 24, almost never past age 30. Since the tribe did much of the teaching of children anyway, getting the best set of genes seemed wise. The warrior would always be busy with matters other than those relating to the family, and women knew that. Today, the same guy would be a terrible person to depend on for personal and family values.

Today, most men live past 30. It's the next 50 or 60 years after that the women who marry them can't stand.

Very few of the skills a young man learns in high school apply to the fulfillment of responsibilities of a family man. We don't teach the skills that families need, that women should be looking for. So young women continue to want the best looking guy they can get. And when they marry and he fails to satisfy the needs of her or their children, they can't figure out why.

The most popular girls and guys in high school get so used to constant attention from members of the opposite sex that they continue to want that attention into college, into their work lives later and into their time as parents. They don't need commitment, they need attention. Girls should want a life partner who gives attention, not one who seeks it from them.

Girls naturally favour men with confidence. Whether in men or women, confidence is the most important characteristic of beautiful people. An average looking person with lots of confidence and a big smile can be a sex symbol. Just look at the stars of movies, only they have the addition of makeup to make them look even more perfect. Brad Pitt may be great for the imagination, but few women could tolerate spending a life with that kind of man.

As great as confidence is--I firmly believe it is critically important to a person's well-being--it does absolutely nothing to make a man a better husband, lover, father, provider or planner. Confidence is but one characteristic of a person. That characteristic can be taught and learned. Most people who have confidence learned it by themselves, though it can be learned by taking classes of various kinds.

Those who don't have confidence in themselves and their abilities and strengths should take a class to learn how to show confidence, to feel confident.

Men need more skills than confidence, good looks and rippling muscles to be good husbands, fathers and long term friends. For a woman to depend on the looks of a man as the main feature she loves and wants would be the same as a man loving a woman because she has breast implants, a tummy tuck, butt rounding, a nose job, reconfigured ears and a hair transplant. Every study ever done shows that most men don't want those features in a wife and mother. A majority of men want "natural" women, no matter if they have body features that are not perfect.

Women shouldn't depend on good looks and popularity as characteristics that will make a man a good husband and father. In fact, nothing about the appearance of a man, good or not so good, can be held as predictors of what he will be like as a husband, lover, father, provider, friend or sleepmate.

Advice to women: When looking for a mate, search for one who has the characteristics you want in a man for what you want to do with him in the years to come. If one you like doesn't have those characteristics, make sure he is the kind of man who will gladly learn what he needs to know. If he won't, look elsewhere, quickly.

Advice to men who have read this far: The same applies to you when looking for a lifemate. Paris Hilton or Salma Hayak or someone with the name of Diaz or Cruz may be great to ogle, but they won't necessarily have the characteristics you want at home. And they will always want the attention they get now from other men.

It's not just a matter of caveat emptor. It's a matter of looking for what you really want rather than wanting someone who looks good but has nothing else to offer that you will find valuable in the years to come.

Think ahead. Unfortunately, most people don't get better with age. If you want a partner that will, look for that characteristic before you settle.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who know how to cope with the needs of their lives instead of depending on television and movies to tell them.
Learn more at

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We Are Killing Ourselves But Not With Global Warming

It takes a certain maturity of mind to accept that nature works as steadilyin rust as in rose petals.
- Esther Warner Dendel, writer and artist (1910-2002)

Despite the fact that we are, each of us, part of nature, we understand almost nothing about it.
We have medical healers whose primary function is to make it possible for nature to heal itself within our own bodies. We have psychological healers whose objective is to keep us talking until we can figure out answers to our own problems.

We have those who would have us believe that we could live within nature comfortably if we would only stop destroying it. Not true. No living thing lives comfortably within nature. Living things within nature are all about struggle, not about comfort. Living things that are comfortable either become food for other living things or go extinct because they cannot change. Nature changes constantly.

We have those among us who would have us believe that we can alter nature on a global scale. Those people are either the victims of propaganda or its perpetrators. Take global warming for example. No one disputes the fact that the planet is warming. The dispute is over whether what we do can influence it irrevocably or whether what we experience is simply part of a natural cycle.

Should we believe climatologists whose income depends on our believing what they say so that they can continue to sell their fear mongering collections of "facts" to the media? These people can't even predict the weather. Where I live in eastern Canada, the government forecaster predicted a hot and dry summer for three months. The weather was so cool and wet until mid-August that the summer insects had not yet emerged and the trees had not changed from their late spring colour of light green.

We have scientists who believe they can make definitive statements about God, about the future of medical science, about how powerful humankind is that it can influence the very existence of nature, yet it can't tell me for certain if it will rain this afternoon. Or if a tornado will tear the roof off my house. Or if an earthquake will destroy the rest of my house.

We want so much for nature to not change. We want to know that we have not destroyed it and we would know that by the fact that nothing within nature would change. Yet if one thing we know for certain about nature it's that nature forever and constantly changes. New life continues to pop into existence and other life goes extinct. We don't even know how, for certain. Call it evolution or creativity, but we don't really know how it all comes about.

We know that about 65 million years ago a great percentage of land life went extinct as a result of an asteroid landing near the Yucatan in present day Mexico. Yet why did it take over 1500 years for the die-off to complete if the explosion created an instant global cloud? The age of the dinosaurs ended, for sure. But what the fear mongering scientists want us to believe is that it was the cloud that ended the dinos, not the fact that climate was changing naturally around the world and where the dinosaurs lived there was no longer sufficient vegetation to support the giant creatures. Not much vegetation for them in Alaska these days, for example, is there?

About 225 million years ago almost all life on our planet disappeared--about 97-98 percent. Nature seems to have recovered, as it did after the later asteroid collision. It will recover from us too.

If we should be concerned about anything related to human production, it's that we put half a million chemicals into our air--some of them poisonous and these have caused us health problems to an alarming degree--not that the planet is warming. Of course it's warming. There was a mini ice age lasting about 400 years that ended just over a century ago. What should we expect to happen when an ice age ends?

We know that air's ability to hold moisture doubles with each ten degrees increase in temperature. As the air warms, it has more ability to absorb moisture when it passes over the 75 percent of our planet that is covered with water. More water in the air equals, what? Clouds.

Clouds block sunlight, which is the sole source of heat for our atmosphere. Less sunlight reaching earth's surface means a decrease in air temperature. And where are all those flooded coastal cities we were warned about 15 years ago when the climate models said that many low lying cities would be drowned in 15 years?

Get over it! We are not powerful enough to change nature. We aren't even powerful enough to save ourselves. How many millions of humans die each year of starvation while rich countries throw more than enough food away as waste? How many millions die of AIDS when we don't even have the will at an international level to teach methods of protection against HIV infection and to distribute drugs that could extend the lives of most HIV positive people for decades? That includes HIV infected parents who could support their children instead of dying and leaving them to starve as orphans.

Instead of huddling in fear of what we are doing to ourselves that most of us can't do anything about, let's stand up and tell our governments to do what is right to save the humans alive today from our own self destructive practices. I could count on one hand the number of countries that are in the process of doing positive things to help their people and others around the world to live better and healthier lives. One of them is Iceland, but how influential is that tiny island in the international community?

We only need be afraid of the future if we do nothing about improving it by our actions in the present.

No matter how much we fear the future, nothing will change by our fear. Nothing will improve because we are afraid.

Change only happens when someone does something.

Human rights took a huge leap forward after Adolf Hitler tried to take over the world and killed millions of people in the process. Do we require something that dramatic to recover from for us to make small changes ourselves and to encourage others to make small changes as well?

Even those of us who are not afraid will accomplish nothing to improve humanity and the condition that life on our planet exists in if we do nothing.

As Canadian rock singer Neil Young stated in one of his albums, rust never sleeps. Nature forever changes. If we don't want nature to change, too bad for us. If we do nothing about improving life on this planet as it is--including conditions that kill millions of our own--we have good reason to worry over things that happen naturally. Worry is the hiding place for those who do nothing.

Worry is the refuge of the terminally stupid. With emphasis on the "terminally."

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, teachers, social leaders and ordinary folks who want a methodology for teaching children what they should know, not just what industry wants them to know as worker/consumers.
Learn more at

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What If You Couldn't Live Another Week?

Much misconstruction and bitterness are spared to him who thinksnaturally upon what he owes to others, rather than on what he oughtto expect from them.
- Elizabeth de Meulan Guizot, French author (1773-1827)

My first thought upon reading this quote was about how many people severe the primary relationship of their life because their partner isn't giving them what they want or need, without considering what they could do for themselves. That is, the partner may disappoint with what he or she gives, but do the disappointed ones do enough for themselves and do they do as much of what they should for the other partner that disappoints?

Before we think about how others disappoint us, let's consider how much we may fail ourselves and how much we may neglect to give to the others.

What should we give to others? What do we owe to others, especially to those to whom we are not committed?

There's the hitch. There is no reason why we should not be committed to every other person on the planet, to every other animal on the planet, to everything on the planet. If we do not commit to them, why would they take any interest in committing anything of themselves to us?

So we breathe the air they pollute. We drink the fresh water they poison. We read of how they kill each other, how they enslave each other, how they abuse each other in inhumane ways.
We can't do anything about that, can we? After all, they don't care about us, so why should we care about them?

We don't care about them. Only about what they do. Yet we don't give a fig about what they may think of what we do.

What do we do? Do we starve, as possibly 20 percent of the humans on the earth are doing today? Or at least their health is destroyed through malnutrition, a problem over which they have no control.

By what measure of ethics or morals is it correct that we allow anyone on this planet to starve or to be starved when more food exists than the world population can eat?

A study was done in the UK recently that showed that 25 percent of the starving people of the world could be saved and made fairly healthy on the nutrition in the food the British throw away as garbage. Every bit of food that is not consumed by customers in restaurants, for example, must be thrown into the garbage, by law.

We have no reason to believe that the amount of nutrition thrown away as garbage by the people of the United States, as another example, would be any different by percent than that in the UK. If the numbers for the US match those from the UK, then starvation could end on this planet if all the nutrition thrown away by Americans were fed to the starving people of the world. The United States is that big and has that amount of wealth that its people can throw away food that would save the lives of every starving person.

In some villages in Africa, almost no adults remain alive because they have all died of AIDS, leaving the remaining children to fend for themselves. Do those children deserve to die because their parents contracted AIDS and had the effrontery to die?

Do the people of Darfur deserve to starve to death (those that are not raped and killed by militias) because the government of Sudan is corrupt and keeps food aid from its own people? Decades ago we put men on the moon, can we not find ways to air drop food to those starving people?

Using a headset or VOIP phone I can speak to anyone anywhere on the planet that is connected by some telecommunications system. In the parts of the world with the fewest numbers of people with internet capability (excepting at the poles, on mountains and in deserts), at least some of their neighbours are starving. Lack of internet capability or minimal capability equals poverty beyond what most of us can imagine. Poverty always means that someone is starving. Always.

Our television networks, news services and NGOs tell us about places where people are starving and where medical assistance is impossible because they have no supplies. We Tsk! Tsk! and wonder why no one does anything to help them.

If there is one sin that every religion would agree on, it's letting people starve to death when there is more food on the planet than would be needed to feed everyone. The world's greatest and most widely agreed upon sin.

But those starving people do nothing to help us. They just selfishly keep on starving and dying.
What would you do if you had gone for over two weeks without a bite to eat? If that were true also of your neighbours and the rest of your community, would it turn quickly into something resembling Darfur? It would unless police kept control and others in your country felt compassion for you and your community, enough so to send food to save you. Remember how little police could help in the aftermath of Katrina, in New Orleans?

No matter what you may think that others owe to you, they may feel that they owe nothing or very little. If they are well fed and healthy, they may think that your starvation or extreme illness or disease means little to them unless you can do something for them. Those people include well fed and healthy elected politicians.

If you were starving or dying from some effect of malnutrition, what could you do for those who had the ability to save you?

Well, you aren't starving or dying. What are you prepared to do see that the people who are get what they need?

If you have what you need, but do not help others, you commit the world's greatest sin.
To expect those who are starving to save themselves and to reorganize their communities is unreasonable because you could not do it yourself. They may not be able to help themselves.
You can.

Figure out how.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who care as much about what they can give to others as what they can acquire from them.
Learn more at

Friday, August 22, 2008

How To Know If You Have A First Rate Mind

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority.The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority.The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
- A.A. Milne

The third rate mind never goes anywhere because it is constantly being led by the nose, always follow the behind of those who lead. Think politics, religion or the products of big corporations (as a consequence of constant unrelenting advertising).

The second rate mind always feels that it is going against the flow, which it is. In this case, the minority usually believes that its way is better than the ways of the majority. These people believe that their way is better for humankind, whether morally, politically, religiously, ecologically or any other -ly. It is comforted in knowing that, though a minority, they think alike with their fellow believers.

The first rate mind usually thinks alone. He or she knows that their way of thinking goes against the trends of humanity, but takes comfort in truth rather than in comradeship. He or she is used to being thought of as wrong or as kooky or as a bit too far off base.

The first rate mind sometimes wonders if he or she is weird, a social misfit or the result of some form of genetic mutation. Any are possible, but the real reasons may commonly be found in their unusual upbringing in their first few years of life.

The first rate mind may be sociopathic or totally benign and peace loving. He or she may be a criminal, a drug addict or an inmate in a psychiatric hospital. Or a teacher, firefighter or member of any occupational group. The ones suffering from anti-social behaviours may result from bad decisions made in the heat of the moment, of good decisions made that go against the law or social norms or of being thought so different that he or she doesn't know how to cope with problems in their personal life that others just plug through but that he or she take as unsolvable or intractable.

The third rate mind is always appreciated at the moment for being "average," in synch with the majority way of thinking.

The second rate mind is usually considered to be inept by the majority because they just don't "get it," but cool among his or her group.

The first rate mind is always appreciated more after their death than before, even if they are recognized for their genius while they are alive.

For the third rate mind, perfection is being with the majority.

For the second rate mind, perfection is elusive, but possible if enough people could just see how they have been thinking the wrong way.

For the first rate mind, perfection is not a consideration because it cannot be reached. Each success is a plateau, a step leading to the next challenge. Every step of progress brings with it its failures, which lead to new challenges, which result in new projects.

To the third rate mind, society would be much better if the radicals would just get onside.
To the second rate mind, society is made up largely of third rate minds who can't tell their whatchmacallit from their thingamajig.

To the first rate mind, everyone is insane, differing only in their degree of insanity and their preferences for ways of showing it.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who have no trouble telling their whatchmacallit from their thingamajig. And who know right from wrong at the right times.
Learn more at

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's Paris Hilton Up To?

Adulthood is the ever-shrinking period between childhood and old age. It is the apparent aim of modern industrial societies to reduce this period to a minimum.
- Thomas Szasz, author, professor of psychiatry (1920- )

I can imagine Dr. Szasz reading this quote again with his tongue stuck so far into his cheek that his cheek goes red, chuckling at his wit until he nearly falls off his chair. I would if I were in his shoes.

Let's examine it more carefully. At first blush it seems to say that modern industrial societies (those whose corporations control social norms, usually with the blessing of their respective governments) want to keep people in a childlike state of mind for as long as possible. Then when they realize that they are no longer kids (around age 40-45 in many cases), they have a brief period of adult behaviour and thinking before their bodies ease them into old age.

In the cottage area where I live, people flock from the Toronto region on weekends where they promptly stock up on the marijuana supply they will need, then fuel up their all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft and chain saws so they can act like the wild teenagers most never were. These people are mostly men, all with at least some white in their hair, what's left of it.

Their great fear (perhaps loathing would be a better word) is growing old. In their attempts to recapture their youth, most completely miss playing out the mature, responsible adult stage, the one that most of us would consider the age of people who would control the governments of their country and operate businesses and industries that keep people employed and the economy moving.

To ensure that they are not considered "age inappropriate" to their children and teenage kids, they supply the young generation with the same toys (downsized for the younger ones) that they use themselves. Thus the kids don't care if their dads act like teenagers because they have the same adult toys as their parents.

Can these (formerly called) middle age men provide good role models for their children? By not taking responsibility for the welfare of their own lives (take that where you will), they provide no good example for their children to follow. An example, yes, not a good one. If anything, what they eat and drink and otherwise consume (drugs, for example) silently but effectively teaches the kids that the need for taking responsibility for the safe and fulfilling conduct of their lives is not necessary.

Obesity is rampant in this generation, as it is in the younger ones, because they eat mostly prepared foods (bolstered by chemical preservatives, loaded with fat, salt and sugars). They spend almost all of their time with their knees bent into a sitting position. Standing is limited, walking is rare, genuine exercise is not in evidence. Generally speaking, if it burns gasoline or produces alcohol, it's good.

Meanwhile, these aging children take advantage of the tolerance our bodies have for abuse and misuse. They do this through their "adult" years, until the body can't take any more and breaks down. Heart attack, cancer, osteoporosis, the usual effects that visit a body that can't take the wildness of teenage life for decades in a row.

Now they turn to prescription drugs to get them past pain, high blood pressure and cholesterol, brittle joints and atrophied muscles. With more and more people living to the century mark these days and most living into their 80s and 90s, that makes for a very long period of old age.

Are they ready for it? Sure, they have their pensions, insurance plans and investments in place so that they can pay for whatever therapies they need, for decade upon decade. One insurance company touts a "Freedom 55" plan, likely for those who won't be healthy enough to work until a more reasonable age for retirement.

What happens to that period of mature adulthood in between childhood and old age, the one that Dr. Szasz said societies are trying to shrink? Look at how often CEOs of large corporations are in civila court, in prison or in debt and look at the people we have running our countries to see that we seem to have no mature adults (or not enough) to run either our corporations or our governments. Look at how many people follow the misadventures of Hollywood tabloid types, apparently loving the fact that they don't get into as much trouble as Paris Hilton any other of the tabloid stars.

The "serious" adults compare themselves to wealthy people who manage to make themselves public figures without any qualifications other than the fact that they are rich and they can commit outrageous deeds. ("You're fired!")

I have no idea how wild and careless Dr. Szasz may have been in his younger years. I do know that now he is a wise observer of life.

Might he want to be president of his country, the USA? No. He's not that dumb. Beside, he has devoted his life to healing, not to killing.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to raise children who will be well balanced adults who can take the responsibilities we need them to take to guide their country and the younger generations.
Learn more at

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Is Who Controls Your Life And The Lives Of Your Kids

Men are born to succeed, not fail.
- Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet and philosopher (1817-1862)

Well, heck, that sounds simple enough.

So why doesn't it work?

Because to succeed, a person must have the tools to succeed and the attitude that the goal is possible. In other words, a person needs a good work ethic, something to do and the means to do it.

Easy again.

But most people settle for less than what they are capable of, then either overwork to benefit their employer or underwork in the mistaken belief that only partial success at work does not equal only partial success in life.

If the original statement is correct, then why are most people not feeling successful, fulfilled and personally complete?

We don't teach to success of the individual. We teach success for the nation. We teach that success for corporations is good. We teach that our working to keep corporations successful is good. We teach that spending every bit of income we get is good, that it should make us happy and keep the economy rolling.

But we don't teach to individual success. That is, we don't teach to success of the individual on a massive, nationwide scale.

What we do teach individuals is that they should have the skills to satisfy employers sufficiently that they will keep us employed. We almost never teach entrepreneurial skills because that would be counter to the benefit of corporations.

Ask most teens why they will continue with their education past high school and you will hear "so I can get a good job" more than any other answer. In other words, "so that I can get a good paying job." Hopefully, one that will not disappear when the employer downsizes because it has not forecast future markets correctly and has lost money, so needs to cut staff to show more profit or minimize losses to satisfy its shareholders.

We don't even teach our children what it means to be successful, other than that they will be happy being constant consumers. Which few are, really. Again, ask a teen what it means for an adult to be successful and the answer will most likely be related to a secure job with good income (with which to buy lots of stuff).

It's not my purpose to teach you what success is. I know what it is for me. But it took me a few decades of searching to learn.

You need to learn what success is for you. What it really is. What it really means to lead a fulfilling life.

Then teach it to every kid you know.

Schools don't do this. Their purpose is to train employees to be good workers and consumers.
Corporations control the curriculum. If you doubt this, check the name brands on all kinds of products in today's high schools and even in grade schools. Including in text books.

First you must learn what success in life really is. Then teach it to others, both adults and children.

How many people, on their deathbeds, have claimed that they should have worked harder or that they should have spent more of their money in order to make their own lives and the lives of their family members better? Corporations want us to believe that we should follow that line of unthinking.

Learn, then teach. It's what we are supposed to do. Corporations took that responsibility from us because we walked away from it ourselves.

When you teach children what is meaningful in life, don't report it to your employer. The employer won't like that. Just do it in private.

A recent study (actually several of them) showed that large corporations were set up to be sociopathological (amoral, capable of violence or spreading fear without feeling guilty). It's part of their corporate ethic.

This is the power that will control the destiny of your children unless you change what your kids believe.

If you don't like it, do something about it. Talk it up. Social change happens only when enough people believe that children should be taught differently. Every socially acceptable norm of today was once a radical idea. Then people talked about it.

So talk. It's easy.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to have a time scale, content and methodology for teaching children what they need to know to lead successful lives.
Learn more at

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It Takes A Lot Of Stupid People To Make A War

Religion--freedom--vengeance--what you will,
A word's enough to raise mankind to kill.
- Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)

Almost every war is fought under the banner of a religion. Though the religion may not be the primary purpose of the wars, such as it was during the Christian Crusades to "free" the Holy Land from those of another religion, the God or gods of the religion of the perpetrators of the wars are always invoked to bring success to the cause. In the case of the Second World War, for example, both the Allies and the Axis powers firmly believed that God was on their respective sides.

While communism purports to be non-religious, even anti-religion, the power of the state (thus of its leaders) is treated like a religion. Russian leaders after the Revolution insisted that they be treated as gods as they transformed many independent eastern European states into components of the USSR, just as the Caesars did to make the empire of Rome. The Caesars appointed themselves gods as well.

Every religion that claims to have a monotheistic God at its head preaches peace. Even Hinduism, which has thousands of gods when studied one way, has one God above all--a God very similar to the God of the Abrahamic religions--with that God having many facets to his personality and his interests, according to many Hindus. Hinduism and its offspring, Buddhism, are surely the most peaceful religions in the world. They not only teach peace, they insist that their followers practise it in their daily lives.

If most of the people fighting in wars today do so under the banner of a God who teaches that peace is the right way to live, then all soldiers who kill are heretics. To use a modern day western term, they are terrorists. Indeed, in wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, both sides refer to the fighters of the other sides as terrorists. To the Taliban of Afghanistan and the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq, the US and its allies are terrorists.

And they are terrorists, on both sides. Albeit, they may have been persuaded to kill by their employers or their religious masters--persuaded in ways that should properly be called brainwashing or mind-bending.

Being persuaded to kill for your religion, for your God who teaches that peace is the only way to live, is an indication of stupidity.

If two people meet on the street, get into a debate that becomes heated and their anger rises to the surface, those two are expected to find ways to settle their differences. Usually that involves dialogue until the issue is settled, often through compromise. In fact, if the argument becomes physically violent, both could be charged and imprisoned.

States are not held to that standard, even those states whose individual citizens are expected to settle their differences without resorting to violence. Somehow, the leaders of those states are exempt from the standards they set for their own citizens. They are granted the right--indeed, some claim, the duty--to lie to their citizens to make them want to fight a war, to want to kill an enemy who only became an enemy because the leaders would not settle their differences through dialogue.

While we could say that someone like Adolf Hitler could not be stopped through dialogue when he tried to conquer the world by taking over country after country in Europe and Africa, we could also note that Hitler was elected by people who wanted Germany to regain the power it once had, but had lost by the Kaiser (the German form of the name Caesar) losing the First World War. The German people of Hitler's time believed that they had a God-given right to dominate their part of the world.

Russia--at least the leaders of Russia today--believes the same thing about eastern Europe. Only they do so without resorting to religion. They use the old standby "The bad guys are trying to hurt us again" to terrorize rogue provinces within Russia and in neighbouring territories in former Soviet states as excuses to invade and/or bomb them.

That excuse was used by the US and their allies to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, even though the US leaders knew that only one organization (al Qaeda) was behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. In fact, nothing inspired the expansion of al Qaeda's membership around the world so much as the US and its allies invading those countries. The people of those countries don't feel liberated. They know that the US-led coalitions literally created the enemies they fight today in those countries.

It's public knowledge that the US supplied weapons to both Osama and Saddam. Then it turned against these men when they became powerful enough to influence the buying of weapons from countries other than the US and to direct the flow of oil away from the US and its allies in western Europe.

It's also public knowledge that Bush supporters--the most influential ones who paid the way of the US into Afghanistan and Iraq--are and were weapons manufacturers and the owners of oil concerns in the US and many offshore locations.

The German people were duped by Hitler in the 1930s. The Russian people are duped by Putin and his puppet president today. The American people were duped into voting George W. Bush--the self-appointed "war president"--back into power in 2004 and show many signs that they may be willing to vote his successor into power in November, 2008.

This world has many killers, most of which are supported by their respective governments and religions. It has far more people who want peace. But those who want peace are prepared to play stupid and allow the war terrorists to take power and run roughshod over their rights. They quietly sacrifice their rights and their future of peace to those who are prepared to speak loudly, threateningly and often.

Where citizens are allowed to remain ignorant, uneducated, or where they are brainwashed into believing that bad guys in other parties or in other countries are out to get them, there will be war. In the vast majority of countries of the world--countries with far less power and facing much greater economic risks than the US and Russia--the people know what peace is. They respect what peace is and what they stand for as people who support the ways of peace.

But in countries where people can be brainwashed or are stupid or uneducated, war is the rule. War is the rule, not the exception.

What we adults teach our children is what they will believe as adults. As we look around the world today, we can see what the children of yesterday have wrought with the beliefs they were taught as children. Peace in most places, war in some.

War is uncivilized. The leaders who practise it are throwbacks to a less civilized form of humanity. Those who believe them deserve to be their prey. They deserve to be eaten, but not to eat their more advanced fellow humans.

Teaching children is what we do. We either do it in formal settings such as schools or places of worship or we do it as role models, by acting the roles we expect our children to follow when they come of age and take control of the future of their country.

Children learn from us, one way or another.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who will become educated and peaceful adults, instead of the mindless followers and believers of self-defeating propaganda that we have in so many places today.
Learn more at

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stuff You Should Know About Oil

Let's clear up some misconceptions about oil first. The fossil fuel whose price has skyrocketed recently and whose utility we cherish to run our cars, our furnaces and a load of other machines does not come from the bones of dinosaurs that were crushed 65 million years ago. Nor does it come from the bodies of all the animals that died in the Biblical Great Flood.

Crude oil doesn't even come from the bodies of billions of crustaceans like crawfish and mollusks like snails that died and whose bodies fell to the floor of the oceans millennia ago. Despite what we may have been taught, even that number of little animals could not have produced the amount of oil that we have used over the past century and that we plan to use over the coming one until the last drop is set aflame.

Nope, petroleum, crude oil, Texas tea, whatever you call it, began with pond scum. Call it zooplankton (that contains some tiny crustaceans and fish larvae) and algae if you like, but when you see it on top of a body of water such as a swamp, it's what we call pond scum. By no small coincidence, and to our great benefit, these little creatures (algae are technically very simple plants without roots or leaves, but that contain chlorophyll) are among the oldest and most abundant life forms on our planet. They have each contributed their tiny droplet of body oil to the pressure-cooker-like crush of rock under earth's surface for billions of years.

Algae may be tapped soon to soak up all the excess carbon dioxide we put into our air--they would turn it into oxygen. Sounds like a good plan. But, back to oil.

Knowing that oil is lighter than water, thus always floats on top of water when it gets the chance, you may wonder why all that oil didn't come to the surface and cover our planet. Actually, most of it did, over time. And, over the same period of time, it was gobbled up by bacteria that thrive on oil. That same bacteria is now used to soak up crude from oil spills.

The oil we pump and burn is but a small fraction of what was below the surface long ago. The oil that's still down there is caught in pools beneath rock so it can't rise to the surface.

Oil companies spend about $150 billion looking for new reserves each year. A large majority of holes they drill are "dry holes" that have nothing to give us but dust.

Penguins preen themselves after being doused with crude from an oil spill. To prevent their killing themselves by ingesting the stuff, thousands of them have been fitted with little sweaters that were knit for each one. (Believe it. As crazy as it sounds, it's true. It may be the only way to save them .)

Many states and provinces have a system on each gas pump whereby the volume is automatically adjusted according to the ambient temperature. Ontario's gas pumps, for example, adjust the volume to what it would be if the temperature were 15C (59F). But adjustments are only made occasionally and usually during the daytime. Buy your gas at night when the temperature is cool and the gas has more substance in the same amount of volume as during the daytime and you will get more gas for your buck.

On hot days, try to keep your car windows up if you are travelling at high speeds because the wind drag causes your car's engine to work harder, thus use more gasoline. At highway speeds, air conditioners use about the same amount of extra gas as having your windows down. But at slower speeds having the windows down is more economical than using the AC.

Every 100 pounds of stuff you remove from your vehicle should improve your fuel consumption by two percent. That may seem like a small amount, but carrying the extra weight all the time is like having a slow leak in your gas tank. There's another reason for not carrying your mother-in-law around in your trunk all the time.

What we call gas, gasoline, petrol and some other name I can't recall in eastern Europe (it may be benzene) was once the waste product from the refining of crude oil to produce home heating oil. Refineries used to burn gasoline constantly to get rid of all the waste they had. Then someone decided that burning could be used more efficiently by powering an internal combustion engine.

Now, when will some bright light find a good use for the still-radioactive plutonium waste from nuclear reactors so that we don't have to bury it in old mines and under mountains for centuries?
Keep the gas cap on your vehicle done up tight. A loose or missing cap could cause up to 30 gallons of gas to evaporate into the air every year. In the state of California, the gasoline vapours that rise from filling tanks at gas stations alone would fill two tanker trucks every day. Yes, every day.

Speaking of tanker trucks, you may want to be careful when passing one of them. Not only is any truck carrying liquid cargo harder to drive than a truck with solid cargo due to a unique form of load shift, gasoline tankers could be carrying up to 4,000 gallons of fuel. That's an energy equivalent worth 200 tons of TNT going off should a collision cause it to catch fire.

While the petroleum industry only got started in North America in the 19th century, the Middle East has been using oil since the 8th century. While the west was in its Dark Ages, the streets of Baghdad were paved with tar derived from petroleum.

In the state of Azerbaijan, the folks in the oil-rich area of Baku used to dig a hole in the ground with their hands, drop in a live coal from a nearby fire and have a new fire with an endless supply of fuel to feed it.

While Canada and the USA dispute which country had the first oil well on the continent, neither country had the idea of using the petroleum as a source of energy for a while. In fact, the industry began slowly because no one seemed to have much of an idea of how to use it. A few enterprising American entrepreneurs saw their chance, bottled the stuff, plastered a label on the glass and sold it as a nectar of health tonic. As many as several hundred thousand bottles may have been purchased and consumed. One way or another, the users are long dead now.

American oil companies have laid down 161,000 miles (about 258,000 km) of oil pipeline within the continental US. That's about half the distance to the moon.

Oil pipeline companies use pigs to inspect their tubes. Not real pigs, of course. These robotic devices have been used as well in two James Bond movies, The Living Daylights and The World Is Not Enough. We'll have to wait until November to see if pipelines and the robot pigs that inspect them are used in the next Bond thriller, Quantum of Solace.

The biggest supplier of oil to the world's greatest user of petroleum products, the United States, is Canada. Alberta's oil sands (aka tar sands) has enough to last for another century at the present rate of usage. When the US government refers to it's own oil reserves, it includes the oil in Canada's oil sands because the North American Free Trade Agreement gives the US first dibs on Canadian oil.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who get what they really need to assist with their development, instead of the haphazard system we have today.
Learn more at

[Primary resource: Discover, July 2008]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We Should Be Thankful For Today's Censors

A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.
- Granville Hicks, American novelist, educator, editor (1901-1982)

First of all, censors are no longer just men in western countries. Women comprise half of most censor boards.

In Canada, film censors watch three films per day, with usually a break between the first two and a lunch break before the third.

Some refuse to have a meal before their final movie of the day in case what they see in the last one causes them to lose their lunch.

Very seldom is anything censored in Canada, that is, removed from the list of items which may be sold to or viewed by the public, forbidden from public scrutiny.

There are those who oppose any kind of pre-screening of anything going before the public. Generally speaking those people are idealists who have little idea about what the censors actually have to take in. It's not just "dirty movies" and books about sexual encounters any more.

Censors usually only last a few years, at most, on their respective boards. By then, so a few claim who have spoken out publicly, their minds have become so enured by a constant assault of movies where people abuse each other that their lives are changed forever. They leave to try to recover what they once had, some semblance of respect for the vast majority of their fellow countrymen who are not abusive.

While most of us would rather not have anyone scrutinize what we see or read, we must admit that some people produce print or film material that is abusive to the point of being illegal if the people involved in the films could be caught. When one has seen many such movies or read many novels of this type, they tend in one of two directions. Either they become desensitized to the welfare of their fellow humans (in which case they no longer care if someone is abused) or they become abusive themselves.

Censors do not become abusive because they undergo psychiatric and psychological tests before they begin their service and once or more each year to check their reactions to certain shocking human motivators. Average citizens (who may not be so average in their lack of social and emotional well-being) often do not have the support systems that prevent them from straying off-centre into anti-social behaviour if they subject themselves to anti-social material repeatedly.

Once an already unbalanced person comes to accept that a certain kind of anti-social behaviour is acceptable within a particular context (the film or book), that person may stray too far from what is generally accepted and chose to use some of the abusive methods he has seen or read about.

Censorship today is not about "protecting" God fearing citizens from shameful sexual exposures. It's about maintaining a level of respectability beyond which average people don't want to know people do to each other and the police should possibly intervene.

There is no doubt that censors see and read everything that people create that may border on the anti-social or may be intentionally outright anti-social. I, for one, thank them for taking the brunt of the most disgusting stuff that people produce today. I have seen some of the filmed material and I don't want to think that people do that to each other.

In times past, censors prevented average citizens from seeing or reading about sex, something that almost everyone did but no one was permitted to talk about publicly or to show any signs of it taking place. Those were the days when people devised euphemisms to refer to body parts and to sexual activities because saying the words for the real acts was horrendous to some. Today those who "cross the line" in literature, art or film are abusive. Abuse of others has never been socially acceptable.

Countries whose militaries are engaged in wars fairly often have soldiers who return to civilian life and some have trouble adjusting to non-violent ways of solving problems, including their own. Those countries tend to have the highest rates of civilian violence. Just recently a few have begun to offer psychological re-programming and some retraining to returning soldiers so they will be able to fit again into the society they had been working to protect. They got used to violence, now they need to become un-used to it.

We should not need to institute social reprogramming for people who have seen too much abuse in movies that they can no longer fit into society by staying within the bounds of acceptable behaviour.

Remember "Banned in Boston!" It was a surefire way to sell a book a few decades ago. Today kids watch more sex than what was in those book as they watch soap operas on television during the daytime. Sex is acceptable now. Let's hope that abuse of any kind never becomes a common way of life.

Censors do the job that most of us would not want (could not take psychologically) so that the police have something to use as evidence if the producers of abusive movies sell their product to the public. Most of us don't want to contemplate the fact that some people accept money to be physically abused so it can be filmed and shown to the public. Most porn is like sandbox play compared to what the hardcore abusive stuff is producing.

We really don't want to know. Censors protect us and those less psychologically stable than us.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who know right from wrong and to avoid what will be harmful to them.
Learn more at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Behind The Curtains Of Bullies And Cheaters

Forgiveness is an inner correction that lightens the heart. It is for our peace of mind first. Being at peace, we will now have peace to give to others, and this is the most permanent and valuable gift we can possibly give.
- Gerald Jampolsky, American psychiatrist, founder of the International Center for Attitudinal Healing

Forgiveness is only necessary because we believe that others should treat us fairly and they have not, thus we try to hold their offences against them.

This belief in the need for fairness between people is built into us. For a long time it was said that "Life's not fair, get over it." A study completed recently (at the University of Toronto, as I recall) indicated that babies have a sense of fairness. Given a choice, the subject babies tended to turn to a person who had done something fairly and away from someone who had done something we might consider unfair, and that was a fairness judgment involving other babies, not themselves. A sense of fairness, it seems, came along with our genetic material when we were born.

That sense of fairness usually serves us well. Most people are fair with us as we are with them. That builds a kind of unspoken trust, even if it involves a shopkeeper we have just met, because we have had good experiences with other shopkeepers in the past. When someone betrays that trust, we treat it as an act of aggression, as if the person had thrown down the proverbial glove and challenged us to battle.

Those who do not act on their impulse to be aggressive in the face of unfair treatment may hold a grudge. "I'll never go back to that store and I will tell everyone I know for the rest of my life to never darken its door."

The thing about grudges, about acts of unfairness, about betrayals of trust, is that most of the time the offender doesn't know he has committed a violation of our expectations. Moreover, he usually wouldn't care if he did know. With rare exceptions, the offender remains guilt-free. The offended person is the one who gets hurt.

That hurt is totally self inflicted. The hurt usually causes more grief to the person who adopts it than the consequences of the original offence.

Most people believe that people who hurt themselves--for whatever reason--are not entirely sane. No matter how just the cause of the offended person, hurting themselves by holding a grudge or throwing a punch and landing in jail, or beginning a shouting match is considered anti-social.

Everyone accepts that people are not perfect. What we find difficult to accept is when the imperfections of others play themselves out on us through acts we perceive as unfair. It doesn't seem to matter how difficult the life of an offender has been before the offence, the offensive act itself gets the dander of the offended person up.

When the emotions surrounding such situations are laid bare, don't they seem kind of ridiculous?
That's where forgiveness comes in. In most cases, when we forgive we do a great favour for ourselves. Only when we allow ourselves that sense of peace can we spread it around to others.

As Gerald Jampolsky said, giving peace to others is the most valuable gift we can give anyone. But we must have that peace within us to share before we can give it to others.

Most people who treat us unfairly don't intend to hurt us. They just don't care. They have their own troubles and have no time for ours or our whining about them. How might we change their life by giving them forgiveness and peace?

Take this as a general rule: the most hurtful people are most in need of forgiveness and peace within themselves.

Which might give you greater satisfaction, venting your anger on someone who has offended you or giving them peace which could make their lives better for years to come? The former is faster, easier and more hurtful to ourselves.

I have had several occasions in my life to turn a bully into a friend. The first was in grade seven when I nearly strangled a bully who sat behind me in class, when he threatened to kill me at recess and he came at me with that objective in mind at the beginning of the break. I was happy that he didn't kill me and apparently he was pleased that I had let him live. We became friends for the rest of the school year. Other friendships have begun with people who began our relationship by cheating me in a business transaction.

As odd as this may sound, they needed the forgiveness, the peace I offered and the friendship overtures, likely because they lacked all of them in their personal lives. As oversimplified as it may sound, people who treat others unfairly, like bullies, need love and have neither the ready sources (such as from their mother) nor the skills to know how to make friends.

Now you're on notice. You know how to recognize people who need a friend. Someone of good character would accept that challenge.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book that (among other things) explains the background of bullying and ways for children and adults to work their way around it.
Learn more at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Get Out! I Can't Stand The Sight Of You

Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.
- John C. Maxwell (Think on These Things, Beacon Hill Press, 1979), American leadership coach (b.1947 )

Don't think you are alone in believing that life is mysterious, that reality is impossible to understand. Anyone who doesn't think that has allowed his brain to settle with what he has been told to believe and to understand.

As you read this sentence, there are nearly seven billion versions of reality among us humans. What's more, by the time you finish reading this article, many of those realities will have changed. Some people will think differently, thus they perceive the reality of that moment differently than they did before.

Can you remember what you thought about the world ten years ago? It's not the same as it is now, is it? In fact, it wouldn't have been the same for you five years ago, one year ago, even a few days ago. Everything you experience alters your sense of what is real.

If you pay attention to (believe) what the media tell you, you will believe that the world is rapidly becoming a more terrible, even horrifying, place. It isn't, based on a huge survey of factors around the planet, but it serves the needs of the media for us to experience some fear about the way of the world, enough that we will tune in to their next broadcast or read their next newspaper or magazine.

If you believe those who criticize you--many do, even if you are not aware of it--then you will see yourself as a clearly inferior being among a much more superior group of fellow humans. They want you to feel that way. If you do, then they have changed your reality. If you do not believe them and act contrary to what they think of you, eventually you will change their reality by giving them a different impression about you.

Even the belief you have about the reality of the world--your world--this moment will be different from someone close to you, such as your spouse. What's more, your spouse's (friend's, mate's, mother's, sister's) sense of reality where it concerns you will differ significantly from your own sense of reality about yourself.

I am reminded of the chipmunks I see outside my window where I live. Chipmunks (known properly as the eastern chipmunk) are solitary squirrels that live in burrows they dig in the ground. They fight with every other chipmunk they meet, usually over food or burrow space, throughout the year (except when they are sleeping during winter). But when mating time comes, they are great romancers and lovers. Once the deed is done, with as many mates as they can find, they return to their solitary existence. When the females have tended to their young, they send them off to fend for themselves, as most rodents do, so they can be alone again.

Being more sociable creatures, we don't try to live alone for most of our lives except to mate. Yet mating is one of the few things we do that we all agree about. Many of us try to avoid procreating during the process, but we still want to have sex because it's fun, pleasurable, satisfying and most of us get a good feeling by helping our partners to enjoy themselves and to feel good.

Once the sex is over, we become relative strangers who cohabit, friends and roommates who live together for their mutual benefit. Until it's time to have sex again.

How can two people ever stay married under circumstances like that? Actually, it's not that hard. But the condition is that we must always consider and work toward the best interests of our partner (or immediate family). Sometimes (often) that means putting their best interests ahead of our own. When that doesn't happen--when one person's own best interests take precedence for themselves most of the time--a relationship is little more than a way to pass time between episodes of sex. Eventually, the relationship will fail.

For some people in a failing relationship, their reality is that their marriage is good and healthy, until the other person passes them the word that it isn't. We may call it betrayal or cheating, but it's simply a matter of two people having realities that are too different from each other's.

A good relationship is not a matter of compromise, as we are taught. Compromise is part of it, but only as a consequence of putting the best interests of the other person first. Compromise comes after, not first. Compromise only comes first in business relationships.

How can we put the best interests of our significant other first if we aren't sure what those best interests are? If you think that your other half's best interests are the same as yours most or all of the time, then you likely don't know what the other person's best interests are.

It has wisely been said that a good relationship is not a matter of staring lovingly into each other's eyes, but of looking outward in the same direction and seeing similar realities.

Just a little something for you to think about.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions to social problems that most people and governments consider realities of modern life, but that aren't. They can't see the solutions because they don't look in the right directions. The solutions are easy and cheap, but hard to find it we aren't looking for them in the right way.
Learn more at

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Jealous Lover Is A Bad Choice

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.... Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love the greater the jealousy.
- Robert Heinlein, American writer (1907-1988)

The concept of jealousy may be misunderstood as often and the concept of love. Love itself is confusing because we have so many forms of it that it requires one of the longest explanations in most dictionaries.

Love, like jealousy, is an emotion. Both are basic emotions, ones that are powerful enough to take control of a person to the extent that the person's best interests or the best interests of the loved one may be compromised. If not compromised, at least the best interests of the loved one are altered by being loved as much as by being the object of jealousy.

Let's try to define love in a way that everyone can understand and that helps to avoid confusion. Love is what we give. At its best, love is altruistic, it demands nothing in return. If given love is not appreciated by the receiver, we have unrequited love. But the love is still given by one person, whether or not it is returned by the other. Those who love for real don't quit.

Jealousy, on the other hand, is not giving in nature, but taking. Jealousy is selfish. Jealousy measures what is coming in to a person from another. What is incoming may be compared with what is outflowing, but this comparison is not necessarily a part of jealousy.

Jealousy is about "me," about "what I'm getting," about "what belongs to me." Jealousy, therefore, may be about objects as much as about people. A man may be jealous of his car, not wanting others to drive it, to touch it, maybe not to do anything but admire it. The admiration is necessary because that is the part of the concept that is incoming where objects are concerned. The objects themselves can't give back whatever the possessor wants, whereas an admirer can. The jealous lover expects a return directly from the other person.

Another word for love might be generosity. The Christian Bible now often translates the word as used in the King James version as "charity" into "love." Wherever and however these words are used, their contexts have similarities.

Love is about giving. Jealousy is about taking, no matter whether what the jealous person wants to take or receive is deserved or not. Love is outgoing. Jealousy is incoming. A loving person cares more about the person she loves than about herself. A jealous person cares more about what he gets (gender switch noted, though not intended to make a specific point) than about what he gives or about whether or not what he wants is deserved, needed or even necessary.

Now let's put the two together and watch the sparks fly. When two people supposedly love each other, is a little jealousy a healthy thing? That's a little like the hostess taking an extra piece of dessert, the last one on the plate, after everyone has been served, without asking if anyone else would like it after finishing their own piece, because she was the one who made the dessert. In a social context, that's greediness. Jealousy is a form of greediness.

If a person has a jealous lover, that may give some satisfaction to the person, but only because of the attention received because of the jealousy. The jealous person demonstrates selfishness and attention to the other, not love. Someone who gives love to a sufficient degree will not be jealous because he or she will know that the object of the affection has received his or her best.

A person who gives all the love of which he or she is capable and still loses the lover to another had a relationship with the wrong person.

We have nearly seven billion people on our planet today. To believe that "There is only one person for me" is not just naivety, it's self deception. Finding the "love of your life" is a matter of taking a large survey and continuing to look until that person shows up. Along the way, the seeker must give of himself or herself to many people in order to test their response.

My wife claims that she knew that I was the man she wanted to marry after our first meeting. I believe I had a good inkling before I even met her, when I had only read a letter she had written. Was that love at first sight? Or read? No, we had both done enough searching over the years to know that we had found a very special person, one who could and would give without demanding a certain minimum in return.

One of the tests for a potential mate should be a past history of jealousy or of love. A jealous person treats the other like a chattel, one that is not too smart at that. One that is prepared to be "owned." When a jealous person has had a mate for a long period of time, he takes the other for granted so much that he may even leave the relationship or cheat on her because she is so stupid, or so he perceives. It's not so much a matter of growing apart from each other as losing respect for each other, or one (the jealous one) losing respect for the other.

People who are capable of jealousy should come with warning labels. They don't. On the other hand, it would be dishonest and harmful to test the "jealousy gene" of a new lover by giving attention to still another. That's why learning about the past history of the potential new lover is important. In general, people are today what they have been in the past.

If you want to be sure that you are never the jealous one, learn about love. Learn about what love is, how to give it, how to show it, and how to recognize it when it is shown by someone else. Often jealous people don't really know what love is because they may not have experienced it, even within their own families.

A jealous person can change, but it's not an easy task to undertake to teach a jealous lover how to be a real lover. It takes years and more patience than most people can afford.

Why is love, arguably the most important emotion we have, a subject we don't teach in schools? We have so many problems that relate somehow to love, yet we do nothing about teaching it to children. We literally have some children growing up believing that love is a business relationship on a personal level.

Business relationships eventually end. Love doesn't. Anyone who believes that love can end likely does not have a clear idea about what love really is.

Now you know what to look for. Now you know what to give. Learn how.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who know about love, how to recognize it from others and how to give it themselves. Most kids learn this from birth, but many kids get it beaten out of them as they grow, through bad experiences.
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Friday, August 08, 2008

Why You Are No Longer Just You

Until now you have likely thought of yourself as "me," an individual human of the homo sapiens sapiens variety, a single being trying to make its way in the world. That will change before you reach the end of this article.

What's more, any thought or fear you may have had that you could be cloned will be removed from your list of possibilities forever. (That reminds me, why did the original of Dolly the sheep, the first large animal that was cloned, not receive any of the credit while Dolly took all the credit and glory? The original sheep that was cloned doesn't even warrant a name for us.)

Each of us is not just one organism, the way we usually think of ourselves. We are actually a symbiosis of billions of organisms, only one of which has the DNA pattern we associate with ourselves. Our DNA gives us the cells we think of as "us." Most of the rest are bacteria, good bacteria without which we could not survive. Each has its own DNA that is nothing like our own.

Let's begin with places that other living things we loosely call germs enter our bodies. The mouth is a very important place to begin because it's the location where the first battles against invaders that could harm us are fought. We don't just have saliva in our mouths when we're not eating. Saliva is the vehicle that carries good bacteria that are our first line of defence against disease. Invading viruses or bacteria could enter our bodies through our mouths at any time.

Okay, we know that if their are going to be battles, they must be fought somewhere. The mouth would be as good a place to fight some as any, right? Not so you'd notice judging by commercials we see on television. How about those mouthwash ads that promise to kill almost every living thing in our mouth if we use it a couple of times every day? That means that we would kill off millions of bacteria in our mouth that are prepared to fight to the death to prevent harmful bacteria and viruses from entering our body.

However much or little you know about military engagements, you would likely agree that it doesn't make sense to kill off the first companies of soldiers that go into battle on our behalf. That is exactly what those bacteria-killing mouthwashes do.

What do mouthwashes really do that is beneficial? They try to kill collections of fungi that grow on the top of the tongue at the back of the mouth. These fungi are the main causes of bad breath. That's what you wanted to avoid, right? Yes, but brushing the back of your tongue with your toothbrush just before you finish brushing your teeth and rinsing will do the same thing. The exact same thing. Only the brush will do it better because it can separate those little forests of tongue things and flick away the fungi, whereas the mouthwash may not be that successful.

If you want your first line of defence against disease caused by most kinds of bacteria and viruses to hold fast and keep you healthy, don't kill it off because you believe the commercials. Big corporations are in business to make money off ignorant people, not to help us maintain good health.

The nose is one of the vulnerable places where germs can enter. Lo and behold, the nose also harbours a boatload of good bacteria to fight disease on our behalf, as well as the mouth. When are the defences of the nose most vulnerable? When the nose gets cold, the bacteria that defend it tend to weaken, to lose their power to fight. They don't necessarily die, they just go kind of dormant. They are very subject to cold.

Along come the viruses (about 200 different kinds of them) that cause us to develop a "cold." Have you ever wondered where that word "cold" came from to describe the runny nose, watery eyes and the rest of the discomfort? It came from an event that lowers our defences against cold viruses, getting our nose cold. A cold nose event isn't the only way to get a cold, nor does having your nose get cold guarantee you will get a viral cold. It's just a common way for the attack of the cold viruses to begin in our body while its primary defences are weak.

The other common place where cold viruses enter our body is through the eyes. Viruses ride the fluid in our eyes as it swashes around the eyeball, then eventually makes its way into the back of the eye where they find body cells to invade or blood cells that will carry them farther inside. We don't have many natural defences against invasion through our eyes. But eye fluid is not exactly conducive to growing or transporting live viruses, so having dry eyes is a condition we want to avoid.

Kissing with the tongue, having an open wound and exchanging bodily fluids through sex are other methods by which germs enter our bodies, only in those cases from another person rather than from air, food or liquid. Those practices are not necessarily risky in terms of increasing our vulnerability to disease. In each case we have good bacteria to defend us against invasion by germs and microbes (two words which mean essentially the same thing). We are as apt to get good bacteria from another person as bad bacteria.

While we have bacteria at work in every organ of our bodies, the greatest proliferation of them is in the stomach and gut. Bacteria actually perform the work we call digestion. Without them we could starve to death even if we ate all day long.

Have you ever wondered why some people could eat a mountain of ice cream without gaining an ounce, while another person gains two pounds just from sniffing a cupcake? The one who easily gains weight is "blessed" with a very efficient digestive system, lots of good bacteria that digest as much as possible of the nutrition they eat. The glutton with the beanpole body style has a very inefficient digestive system, not nearly enough good bacteria to help digest the food that passes through. (I know, it ain't fair.)

Some biologists have estimated that we may have more bacteria in our bodies than we have of our own body cells. While that may sound absurd, remember that just a few years ago very few people believed that anything could live in our bodies other than our own cells. And some bad bacteria and viruses that somehow managed to survive and cause diseases.

That brings us--briefly--to good viruses in our bodies. Are there any? Can a virus be good. As odd as that sounds, remember that just a few years ago (or a couple of minutes ago) you believed that all bacteria were bad. DNA experts tell us that strings of gene patterns in some human chromosomes are identical to gene patterns in some viruses. At some point in our past, some humans have accommodated bad virus genes into their own chromosomes. Now we consider them "natural," part of our own line of defence.

Medical science isn't certain if the virus genes within our own chromosomes help to protect us against certain diseases or prevent our immune system from recognizing disease-causing germs because they have genetic material similar to our own. The odds are that both are true, with different people and different diseases. (Doesn't that confuse the issue!)

We are not subject to some kinds of diseases that other large animals are. And we get a few diseases that other mammals don't. The reason likely has something to do with those strings of virus genes within our own. Some of us can get HIV/AIDS, while others of us could never contract the disease. Heart disease, cancer and other diseases have difference between people, even of the same family. The difference may be who has what viral gene sequences within their own DNA. And that may depend on which viruses were accommodated and which rejected within each person's lifetime. It is possible for DNA to change slightly over a lifetime.

As this gene accommodation and rejection of competing genes from viruses is part of human evolution that is going on today, we can't be certain how it works. Our bodies are still works in progress. We occupy a small section along the production line called life.

As for cloning yourself or cloning anyone else, you can now see that a single organism of DNA could be replicated, but no two could ever have the same combinations of bacterial organisms as each other because their symbiosis would be different. As most of our learning is based on excruciatingly small details we each learn as babies and very young children, no two people with the same DNA could ever be the same either, just as no two identical twins have the same personalities.

Even two people that began life with the same DNA might not be identical as adults because of gene accommodations through their respective lifetimes--that is, they may have different susceptibilities to diseases, for example. Medical science may be able to help us to grow new body parts (we can even grow new brain cells), but the subject of whole body cloning must be left to science fiction writers.

If you take nothing else from this article, at least do yourself a favour and don't kill off the good bacteria that are helping you to live a healthy life. Without them, you can't be healthy and eventually you may die from your own misdeeds.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to raise children who know what is healthy for them and what is not, without using the old trial and error method that made so many people so very sick and even caused their deaths. This stuff is not taught in most schools or homes.
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Monday, August 04, 2008

Collection of Quotes to Touch the Heart

Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future.Faith is having the courage to dance to it today.
- Dr. Peter Kuzmic, theologian, Slovenian-born, citizen of Croatia

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.
- Dennis Wholey, American television host and producer (b. 1939)

Laughter is a smile with the volume turned up.
- Anonymous (Google's best guess)

People laugh because I'm different, I laugh because they're all the same.
- Anonymous (Google's best guess)

No amount of darkness can hide a spark of light.
- Anonymous (Google's best guess)

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
- Anonymous (Google's best guess)

Be like the flower that perfumes the very hand that crushes it.
- Anonymous (Google's best guess)

Last night I watched a movie that was so difficult to understand that I couldn't figure it out until the very end. Then I had to return it to the store. It reminded me of life.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

You don't have to win at life. Life is not about winning. Life is about playing the game and trying to influence others so that they win.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

They say you can't go back to your childhood, that the places you remember will have changed. Even if they haven't, you will have changed so that the you of long ago wouldn't recognize the you of today.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

When your heart breaks, it changes your life. But you had a chance to avoid the hurt. When a child's heart breaks, the child has no defences, no preparation, no means to recover. The reassembled life has no possibility to achieve it's former potential.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

If you hear a great piece of music and your day is not better for it, the problem is not that the music is deficient.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

No matter how much technology you have at your command and friends in your social networking site, there is no substitute for the gentle touch of another live human, for the feel of their breath on your neck, for soft whisper from their lips into your ear.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

Don't think you're ugly. Everyone is beautiful sometimes, always when they smile. Don't think you're beautiful. Everyone is ugly sometimes. The difference is attitude and confidence. Even movie stars are pretty plain looking without makeup. They believe they're beautiful, so that's what they become.
- Bill Allin, stalwart pilgrim of life,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Decline of Picnics: Another Canary in the Coal Mine

Picnic--the joyful experience of eating good food in the open air while enjoying the company of friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere--is on the wane in the western world. More of us gather around the barbecue in the back yard. More still don't eat outside at all, or migrate from the inside of our favourite restaurant to its summertime patio.

Picnicking is practised most by first and second generation immigrants for whom this tradition still holds value. A fast-paced lifestyle that makes no time for relaxed appreciation of what others have to offer us and what we can happily share with them finds no room for picnics. Unlike back yard barbecues, picnics were usually held in beautiful natural environments.

Traditionally, picnics were a way for extended families to get together to share stories and get caught up on each other's affairs when no home was large enough to hold the group. The gathering had to be held outdoors to accommodate so many people.

In addition to lacking time, today's city people have little interest in their extended family members, so "catching up" would be considered a waste of time. We tend to associate with those relatives who can benefit us through their own influence or their respective contact networks.

While we in the western world supposedly support "family values," as a society we lack appreciation for the value of the family itself. Thus we find picnics with extended family members unnecessary, if not anachronistic and inconvenient.

Picnics became popular in the 19th century, before cell phones with text messaging, before VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones that allow us to speak in real time with people in any part of the world that has internet connection, before televisions, even before radio. In general, they were large get-togethers held in the warmer months so people could engage in simple forms of fun together. They usually had a specific purpose, always social, involving an extended family, a church group, a service club or a Sunday school.

Not all picnics were of this nature. Some were simply single family outings, usually to scenic spots, where people sprawled on blankets and ate al fresco, which gave the food a special characteristic you couldn't get at home. Some said "It's the sunshine" that made picnic food taste so good, for others it was the open air that did not wreak of city smells.

While family picnics were well planned for food--the feature form of entertainment for the event--the extended family or group picnic was more potluck. Each family brought a lot of one or two things--like a potluck supper--and everyone ate from what was at hand. As much as the kids hoped that every family would bring dessert, it never happened. Moms were too careful to let that happen.

Every picnic had its downside, whether it was rain, ants or forgetting the condiments for the potato salad. The odd time they even stirred up old resentments among family members. But in times past--less so today--people were willing to set aside those differences (most of the time) in order to recognize the value of family.

After all, when tragedy struck, it was your family you turned to for support. Today people don't believe that tragedy will ever strike them and are shocked when it does, leaving them alone in the world without a support system to turn to. Picnics, in a sense, were an indicator of the interdependence of the community.

Extended family picnics were social occasions. Staying in touch with extended family--grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, kissing cousins and the children of them all--had value. As most single families ate meals together at home, social occasions were not necessary for them in the same way.

How did single family picnics get started? One theory is interesting.

Today, cemeteries are lonely places where few people go to express their grief for the loss of a loved one other than for the actual burial ceremony. After that, cemeteries tend to be more places where teenagers can hang out without parents or security oversight. And, in some cases, where drugs may be bought and used apart from prying eyes.

Cemetery plots are cared for, indefinitely, by cemetery staff through a fund purchased when the plot itself is bought. That development happened within my own lifetime. When I was a kid, families had to look after the grave sites of family members and others they once cared for. Cemetery plots were tended by the loved ones left behind when someone died.

As caring for grave sites often involved some travelling as parents and children became separated over time, especially with young people flocking to cities as older parents tended to stay in more rural areas, it may have happened only once or twice a year that a family would make a trip to the cemetery to tend to the grass and plant flowers around the grave site.

There was clearly work involved in only tending to a grave site a couple of times each year. Everyone's help was needed, even from the kids. As the whole process took some time, food and beverage were brought to get people through the event. Food and beverage became the second focus of the visit.

As few people believed that real people--as opposed to discarded and decaying bodies--were in the graves, tending the graves of family members (often several generations of them in the same cemetery) was a solemn occasion--just plain work--unless something was done to lighten up the day.

Food and beverage did that. So did playing games after the meal. In those early days of picnics, cemeteries were not supposed to be as quiet and sedate as churches. It was quite all right to have fun there after the gardening and open air dining were over.

People enjoyed the non-gardening part of the event so much that they chose to have other picnics, such as at a beach or in a park or other natural setting. This happened more as people had more leisure time. They felt they could be more natural, more relaxed, less guarded, while enjoying themselves in the open air, surrounded by natural beauty.

Today we don't have picnics much, so we have to consciously teach our children about nature or they don't learn the lessons. The less they know about nature, the more inclined they are to look away as big corporations clear cut forests, create great fissures covering many hectares with open pit mining and freely pollute the air and waterways with their waste. And we eat food produced using growth hormones, pesticides and chemicals with names so long they're hard to pronounce let alone understand what they mean and what their long term effects on our bodies are.

Picnics may have been imperfect, but they were pure. We can't say that about many things in our lives any more.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to know what to teach their children that schools don't teach, and when is the best time to teach these lessons.
Learn more at