Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Will You Be Ready?

Ours is a world where people don't know what they want and are willing to go through hell to get it.
- Don Marquis, American humorist, writer (1878-1937)

This applies more to the Western part of the world than to the rest where a majority of people know what they want: food and safety.

It applies as well today as it did during the lifetime of Don Marquis, who died during the Great Depression.

Why do so many of us depend on others to tell us what we should want, what we should strive for and how we should spend our lives?

Let's look at some background. Charles Darwin did not tout "survival of the fittest" as the way all animals--including humans--succeed or go extinct. That "fittest" thing is inaccurate and wrong. If that were the case, the strongest and smartest among us--including in the animal kingdom--would be more successful than the rest, which is clearly not true.

Darwin said that the most adaptable species would survive when others are dying off as conditions in their homelands change. Humans live in more and varied parts of our planet than any species other than a few that can only be seen (by us) with a microscope. We live in the frozen Arctic and on mountain sides, in jungles and deserts. Some of us have our homes on water and make our living from it. Since the beginning of the last century, a majority of us live in urban areas. We have adapted to hugely varied living conditions.

Why have so many of us recently migrated to cities? Supposedly because jobs are more plentiful and living is easier.

When the vast majority of living humans earned their living from agriculture, most people worked for themselves, in one sense or another. In cities, most people earn their income working for an employer that determines when they will work, how hard they will work, what days they will work, what they will wear at work, what equipment they will use, when they can take breaks from work, even the quality of the air they will breathe at work.

The attitude of most employers in cities today is "Take it or leave it, and if you leave someone will replace you tomorrow." Ethics and morality aside, most employees stay in their jobs because it's too hard to find other jobs. They need to have employers because they "need to eat" and to feed, clothe and shelter their families.

Recent studies have shown the stress and polluted air, both of which may be found in abundance in all large cities, shorten people's lives. People live shorter lives, even though they may have greater income than their rural countrymen, so that they can have a job, can work at a job someone else has created for them.

When a global catastrophe occurs--and it surely will--who will survive? People who live in big cities obviously have not adapted well enough to live healthier than their rural countrymen.
Look at the problems that have arisen since the downturn of national economies globally.

Multitudes of people get laid off from their jobs each week, all over the world. Those people are desperate to find jobs. Because they know they can't survive on their own skills alone. They don't have the knowledge or skills to create jobs for themselves, no matter how wonderful they are at the jobs they do today.

Being able to survive on your own skills and knowledge is what adaptability is all about.

Could you survive if electric power went off in your part of the world for six months? If not, then you have not just traded your labour and skills for the produce of other people, you have sacrificed your personal incentive to survive. Survival, it is said, is one of the few instincts we human have. In cities we are breeding that instinct out of ourselves.

Those who can't adapt in times of extreme stress will die, will go extinct. When the time comes, it won't matter how physically strong you are or how smart you are. It will matter whether you can adapt to survive while others do not.

We may want to consider how successful we are as a species if almost all of us would die because we could not look after our own needs following a global catastrophe. That catastrophe could be as simple as a bad virus bringing down the major internet services of the world.

We have seen how quickly our planet is warming globally (though climate change has caused some places to be colder). The opposite--another Ice Age--could happen even faster if earth is hit by an asteroid or someone decides to set off a nuclear bomb that creates a global black cloud that lasts for years (known as "global winter" or "nuclear winter").

Remember the die-off of the dinosaurs? Some of them--the most adaptable--survived. Today we call them birds. Most died off within 1500 years of the asteroid striking Mexico's Yucatan. Fifteen hundred years is a blink of time in cosmic history.

It's time we consider teaching our children survival skills, an attitude leaning toward independence and interdependence. It's not time to be afraid. Frightened people can't adapt. They are afraid because they can't adapt. If what we really want is to survive, we need to teach that as an attitude as well.

It won't necessarily take a natural disaster of global proportions to find people scrambling to survive. We have seen recently how bad things can get when business people take advantage of weak laws and morals and some sell houses to people who can't afford subprime mortgages. It doesn't take much.

It's time for the less afraid and more adaptable among us to prepare for worse times than anyone has seen in living memory. That's not pessimistic. It's optimistic to think that some of us will survive a tragedy because we know how to adapt. True, many of us will die. But that happens in natural disasters frequently. We have adapted to that. As Darwin predicted, the less adaptable will perish.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to teach skills about survival, knowledge of survival techniques and an attitude to treat adapting to changing conditions positively to their children and loved ones.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Friday, April 17, 2009

How To Lose Your Potential For Happiness

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)

What do I owe to others? What do you owe to others? What do I owe to you?

Should anyone even care?


To begin, those who are fully aware of what they should expect from others will always be disappointed. If nine people out of ten they meet do exactly as they expect, these people--the expectors--will remember the tenth. The tenth, the violator of norms the expectors expect of others, will stand out in their memories like the proverbial sore thumb.

That's human nature. The behaviour that violates norms is not just remembered, but is often held up as indicative of the kind of person who does "that kind of thing." We tend to forgive ourselves our misdeeds before we are prepared to forgive others. A generalization, to be sure, but still typical of human nature.

Tell a lie and it may take you decades of truth telling to overcome the memory others have of that lie. Violate the fidelity of marriage and it will result in divorce in most cases. Fail to live up to a promise you made may cost you a friendship, or a customer, or the trust of who knows how many people who learn about it. Yet it's in the nature of humans to tell the occasional lie, in their hormonal and instinctive makeup to seek more than one sexual partner, and it's often nothing more than memory failure or being too busy that causes people to fail to fulfill their promises.

Putting too much emphasis on what we expect of others is fundamentally fraught with failure.

Think now about someone you know who offers a lot of himself or herself to help others. That person is usually (but not universally) loved and respected. There will always be those who resent what such givers accomplish and the respect and accolades they may receive because they are jealous. But jealousy and envy are sicknesses that fortunately live in few people.

Do I owe something to you? Well, you may say, I owe you a good read since you took the time to read this. From my point of view, I spent over five decades of my life actively learning from others, while having little to offer them in return. By writing this article and many others, I share what I have learned as a way of paying forward what others gave to me over so many years.

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. To a great extent, that happiness is based on what I learned from others. In some cases, what I learned from them was how to cope with misfortune and errors. In others it was how to do things I had never tackled before and to see them through to completion and success. If I share that with you, you have a better chance of achieving what I have, of feeling the way I feel.

I can't make you happy. I can only point you in the right direction. Your motivation must come from within you. If you focus on how others disappoint you, you will often be disappointed, have negative feelings about others and the world in general. If you focus on what you might do to make their lives a little better, you will have successes. Some greater than others, that's true. Some successes you may never learn about because the others involved moved on before changing their lives.

But you will know.

More than gratitude and self satisfaction result from helping others. It takes time and many instances of helping. But something happens within you that changes your life forever. I don't want to be specific about what this mystery is because I don't want you to use it as an incentive to help others. Do that because it's the right thing to do.

Doing that kind of right thing feels good. Try it if you haven't. Do more if you have. If the latter, you will understand the mystery already.

Bill Allin
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to grow healthy and well balanced children who will take better care of their world, their families and their lives than their ancestors did.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't Listen to van Gogh

If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.
- Vincent van Gogh, Dutch post-impressionist artist (1853-1890)

You may have heard of Vincent Willem van Gogh. To some people he ranks among the best painters ever. To others he's the guy who cut off his ear. To some extent, both beliefs are wrong.

As a great artist, he should have sold many of his paintings during his lifetime, at least to pay his way in the world. Though he produced more than 2000 works of art in the ten years in which he was a painter, having left his jobs as teacher and missionary, he sold either not one single painting or perhaps one (expert opinions vary). His brother Theo supported him financially, including, presumably, his habit for the narcotic liqueur absinthe.

Two painting commissions from his uncle failed when the uncle was disappointed with Vincent's work. Though his work was praised during his decade of painting, people were not lining up to buy his work. If you worked steadily for ten years to produce something, were praised for it, but it failed to produce any income for you, would you be considered or would you consider yourself a success? Whatever was said after van Gogh's death would never have reached his ears.

Or should that be ear? He didn't really cut off an ear. He did have a row with his friend Paul Gaugin and he did cut off part of one ear lobe, but the two may not have been related. Vincent was very ill by the time he sliced off part of his ear. His illness affected his vision and his overall health as well as his mental health.

Given that van Gogh's paintings sell at prices among the highest paid for any paintings in the art world today, we can conclude that he was a great artist. But was he any good at anything else? His quote claims that, as he had mastered and understood one thing well, he should have insight and understanding of many things.

He wasn't much good at shooting. Before his death at the age of 37 he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Since he didn't die, he walked home and took to his bed where he died two days later. He was a drug addict (or an alcoholic, if you will), he cut off part of his ear for no apparent reason (the spat with Gaugin is likely a red herring), he failed to kill himself in a suicide attempt and he caused himself (no doubt) considerable pain for a couple of days before he finally died. And he couldn't sell the art he produced even when one publication called him a master and his showings received rave reviews for the most part.

On what basis may we conclude that the expert painter van Gogh had insight and understanding of many things? I submit that the quote that began this article came out of a session he had under the influence of the bitter liqueur absinthe. The man was high. And likely out of his mind. A genius of an artist, for sure. But not someone whose advice we should follow.

In fact, this quote is an excellent example of one of the greatest--yet hidden--follies of our time. People who have expertise in one thing assume that they deserve recognition for being knowledgeable in everything. They're wrong.

You wouldn't go to an auto mechanic with a medical problem. You and the mechanic would go to a medical doctor with your medical problems. Doctors don't usually fix their own cars, yet ask a mechanic about how he gets treated by doctors with car problems. Doctors assume that because they can analyze a medical problem a patient has, they can likely diagnose mechanical problems with their cars. They can't.

Computer experts are notorious for claiming expertise beyond the realm of their knowledge. Computers, their software and malware that attacks the latter are so complicated these days that no one can be an expert on all aspects of computers. A designer of computer hardware likely knows little more than the average computer user (or auto mechanic) about software or malware, though they happily express opinions on both when asked.

A software writer may be a genius at the computer keyboard, but know nothing about hardware other than what he needs to know to write his software. These experts (within their respective areas of knowledge) may receive high praise for their work at conferences, but they may not know how to dance, how to form and maintain a healthy relationship or how to fix their own cars.

In this, the age of specialization, people with expertise in one area need to understand that they are not generalists, not experts in everything. Their opinions on subjects outside their areas of expertise may be nothing more than hot air.

More importantly, we more average people need to realize that someone who is an expert in one thing may know less about just about all other subjects than a grade ten dropout. The dropout must learn a variety of skills and accumulate an abundance of knowledge in many areas in order to get a job and to gain some respect for himself in the communities to which he belongs. In most areas of human endeavour, a middle aged person who didn't complete high school may have more knowledge and understanding on more different subjects than someone of the same age with a PhD.

Let's recognize experts for what they are, people we consult when we need their specific skills and knowledge. Beyond that, they may be friends or tennis partners, but they may have incomplete or even wrong information on many other subjects. Let's grant them the respect they deserve, but not more.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to grow children who lead balanced lives, not skewed by experts who know little about child development but have lots of opinions about it.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Can You Grasp Spirituality?

The further one grows spiritually, the more and more people one loves andthe fewer and fewer people one likes.
- Gale D. Webbe, clergyman and author (1909-2000)

It almost seems as if there is something missing from this quote, something additional that the person who captured the quote originally neglected to include.

But first let's consider the concept of spirituality. In this sense of the word, we generally agree that spirituality refers to the incorporeal, that which is not a material part of nature. Whether the supernatural part of spirituality could be pure energy or something entirely separate from our understanding of reality is debatable.

Mostly it's debatable because science tends to think of energy as something that may be harnessed to do work. Dark energy, a recently invented term to describe why the universe is apparently blowing apart faster than ever before, is accepted as energy because it's a force that is actually doing something. As God or the supernatural can't be proven by science to actually do anything (especially any kind of work), science disavows the supernatural as being pure energy.

Just because God or the supernatural can't be proven by science to do work does not mean that it doesn't exist, only that science cannot deal with it because it's beyond the realm and purview of science. Science works almost entirely within the proverbial "box" thinking. Anything that does not fall within the "walls" of the box does not exist and will not be considered seriously by science.

Spirituality, by its definition, includes something that is beyond matter and beyond the thinking box of science.

What does it mean, if a person has grown spiritually? It means something that people who insist upon living their lives within the box cannot understand. They can't even grasp the possibility or potential because--whether they realize it or not--they deny the possibility of existence beyond their box.

Imagine someone who has grown up living in one house. The person has never left that house, ever, in 35 years. All that person knows of the world is what he experiences in that house and what he sees out the windows. He comes to believe that what is inside the house is real, what he can see outside of the house may or may not be real (the way we think of movies), and what he may hear about what he cannot experience or see simply does not exist. It could not exist, he believes, because he has no way to comprehend existence beyond his experience and his senses.

Growing spiritually means experiencing beyond what box thinkers can conceive could be real. A person who has grown spiritually passes among people who have no grasp and who have had no inclination to understand or experience anything beyond the box walls of their lives. The spiritual person may love others in their life, recognizing them as part of the wholeness that is total existence. But he may find them hard to like because they are so simple, so limited, so ignorant.

A person who has grown so he or she has the ability to live in a spiritual existence will not dislike anyone. Yet they have no need to like others either. Does a grain of sand feel the need to like and be liked by other grains around it on a beach? The grain of sand, like the spiritual person, lives in a wholeness of everything, where sand, plants, animals, people and even the person himself is a component of the whole of existence.

We know that when plants and animals and people die, their bodies get recycled so the atoms that formed them become part of something else. We know that matter (stuff) can be changed into energy (such as by burning) and energy into matter (as proven by Einstein's famous equation). It's called the Law of Conservation. Nothing disappears, though it may change its form. What exists, continues to exist, whether as matter or as energy.

Box thinkers, non-spiritual people, believe the basic physics of this concept, but refuse to acknowledge its implications, its consequences for our lives and for all of existence through all of history. Is there nothing beyond matter and energy? If so, then there is nothing to you other than body cells and energy. That means nothing that is "you," no personality, no non-physical life, nothing that can form relationships with others. Could a cell of your body or potential energy within your gut form a relationship with other cells or other forms of energy within you or elsewhere? Most of us would say no, meaning that there is more to us than cells and energy.

Spiritual people live in two dimensions (or universes, if you will), one tangible and sentient, the other totally beyond the senses and understanding of box thinkers. Moreover, the latter is beyond the comprehension of themselves. Yet that lack of understanding, that intangibility, that failure to grasp is not frightening. It brings peace.

Spiritual people cannot help but love others, all others. They are not afraid of what they don't understand. After all, what they don't like or understand about the tangible world is only temporary, an existence in transition. What matters to them is real and does not change markedly. It's beyond understanding, outside the box.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to help their children understand the realities of the world and realities beyond their understanding, but still within their ability to experience.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Fascinating Stuff About Time

It's about time! Or is it?

What is time anyway? Isn't it just something we humans invented? A second used to be defined as 1/86,400 the length of a day. As greater accuracy was needed, that method was dropped. Earth doesn't always take exactly the same length of time to rotate once on its axis.

Tidal friction as influenced by the sun and the moon affect earth's rotation time. As earth is closer or farther away from the sun (it varies by two million miles--3.2 million km--from us from winter to summer), the sun influences our planet differently. In fact, the influence of the sun is not just a fluctuation back and forth. The length of an earth day increases by three milliseconds each century.

Not much you say? In the time of the dinosaurs, earth would have taken 23 of what we call hours to rotate on its axis. That's not like setting your clocks back an hour in autumn as daylight saving time ends. That's sunup to sunup every day, 23 hours.

Even weather can change earth's rotation slightly. When El NiƱo years take place, strong winds alone can slow earth's rotation by a fraction of a millisecond each day. If that doesn't sound like much of a change, remember that it's nothing more than wind blowing over the surface of our large planet that slows its rotation.

Philosophers and physicists (at least some of each) debate among themselves as to whether or not time actually exists. One school of thought in philosophy says that time doesn't exist at all, that each "moment" in our lives is like a snapshot instance that comes with memories of a past, sensations of a present and anticipation of a future. Some say we live only in once instance, ever, while others say life is like a flipbook of life instances and no one knows how fast the book flips (we just made up seconds, minutes, hours and so on to satisfy ourselves).

Some physicists speculate that time comes out of some reality even more basic. And timeless.
How sure are you about the length of a second or a minute? In A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams claimed that "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." Most scientists today believe that time was created with the Big Bang, some 13.7 billion years ago. They decline to speculate on time before the Big Bang because that's too "outside the box."

Astronauts and Cosmonauts age differently from those of us on earth when they are in space. According to Albert Einstein, time slows the faster you travel. As you approach the speed of light, time almost stops. Because the space station people travel around earth faster than we do on the surface, time passes slower for them and they age slower as a result. Or do they age faster in space? (See below.)

As a large part of work on space and the cosmos depends on Einstein's theory of relativity, which uses space and time as its basis, scientists really hope that time exists. At the moment, the space part of the theory seems to be considered differently. Space is no longer considered an empty void, but is filled with dark matter and something else. What is visible in space comprises only four percent of what is out there, according to recent studies.

You have likely heard that the universe is expanding at an increasingly faster rate. No one can explain that reasonably, so dark energy was devised as a theory to explain why the universe that should have been coming back together by now is spreading out faster. Does that mean that time should be slowing or speeding up for us if we are part of what is moving away from the central core of the universe at an increasingly faster rate? Science isn't clear on that.

Three Spanish scientists claim the expanding universe is a myth. They say that time is actually slowing, thus measurements that show the universe expanding fast seem longer when it is in fact not at all. According to their mathematics (it's all very formal, not just idle speculation), time will eventually come to a dead stop and everything will stop dead as well. (If that time comes, we had better have some good memories to count on.)

Getting back to something more understandable about time, a study recently calculated that a commuter in a U.S. city loses about 38 hours a year of his or her life waiting in traffic delays.

Have you read about people speculating as to why clocks get changed for daylight saving time each year, most claiming how foolish it is? As the story goes, the practice began as a joke by Benjamin Franklin. He said that people should wake up earlier on summer mornings so they could get more work done during daylight hours and burn fewer candles at night. The U.K. instituted daylight saving time first in 1917, then it spread across the globe.

The U.S. Department of Energy claims that power usage drops by 0.5 percent during DST, saving the equivalent of close to three million barrels of oil.

Where is the rat race fastest, the places where the pace of life is faster than most others? Psychologists in the U.S. studied how quickly bank tellers made change, how fast pedestrians walked and the speed that postal workers spoke and found that the three cities where life is the fastest in the U.S. are Boston, Buffalo and New York. The slowest three are Shreveport, Sacramento and L.A.

In 1972, with technology of the day demanding greater accuracy for timing, more than 50 countries agreed on an international time system that was so accurate that it would lose only one second in 31.7 million years. The world's most accurate clock today is in Colorado, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It measures vibrations of a single atom of mercury. The clock will not lose as much as one second in one billion years.

As noted above, the earth's rotation is not so accurate, in fact it's slowing down. Every few years international time systems must add a "leap second" to the year in order that the solstices and equinoxes remain around the same dates. The last year a leap second was added was 2008 (2008 was one second longer than most years, the additional second being added on New Year's Eve).

When train travel became common in the 19th century, schedules had to be kept. As each community tended to have its own timekeeping system, there were usually two kinds of time--local time and railway time. Because this was too confusing, American railway systems forced the adoption of a national system of standardized time, in 1883. The forced synchronizing of timekeeping systems may have inspired Einstein's thinking about relativity.

Einstein said that gravity slows the passage of time, so the less gravity influence you experience the slower time passes and the slower you age. That means that airplane passengers at high altitudes and people on the international space station, experiencing less gravity than those of us on the surface, should age faster by a few nanoseconds each day.

According to quantum physics, the shortest possible period of time should be 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 second.

Which reminds, me, I don't have time to write more about this.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to know the right times to act with their children to make their teaching conform with the developmental needs of the kids. School curriculum rarely conforms.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

[Primary source: Discover, March, 2009]

Friday, April 03, 2009

What Makes Life Worthwhile?

A life that is meaningful, every single day, is rare in this world. Your life was a gift to you. Make it a gift to the world.
- Elizabeth May, American-born Canadian activist, writer, politician (b.1954 )

What is a meaningful life? What does it mean for a life to be meaningful?

In the final days of your life, as you look back over your many years, will you ask yourself if your life has been meaningful? Likely.

What will be your answer? That depends on what you define as meaningful.

For some people living through the most productive years of their lives, living a meaningful life means having the respect of others. That could mean accumulating as much personal fortune as possible or as many valuable objects as you can. That's called materialism and it's prevalent in most large cities today.

This kind of materialism is so common because our industries and education systems teach it. Money rules. He who dies with the most toys wins.The values of needs of industry rule what gets taught in classrooms.

It seems like sheer greed. But it's more like the leaders of industry indoctrinating their employees in the need to earn progressively greater income, to wear increasingly expensive, fashionable and well tailored clothing, to buy an upscale vehicle each time, to own a house that is bigger than needed, to have a mortgage that would have crushed their parents, to belong to the most exclusive clubs they can.

In turn, the employees teach these values to their own children. The process and value system spread exponentially. Soon everyone in the neighbourhood, the city, all cities in the country believe it. Because "that's what everyone believes. They all say that." Comments about the "rat race" go unheeded as whining by losers.

I would like to relate two personal instances to you, from my life. The first has to do with my first wife. We were many years divorced when she was diagnosed with cancer that had metastasized through her body. She spent 15 months at home, alone, thinking about her life.

We separated and divorced because she adopted the feminist propaganda of the day that held that families and husbands prevented women from "reaching their full potential." Once she left me with our children to raise, she rose from resource teacher to vice principal then to principal within a few years. She was highly respected and recognized in her field, frequently asked to lead special events for teachers, such as college courses.

She made the money. She had the clothes and the car and the house. She never missed a child support payment.

Fifteen months turned out to be a very long time to ruminate over how meaningful her life had been. Especially living alone, with dwindling visits from her own children and her one friend. She had no visits from colleagues who once shared her values. She was no longer of value to them.

She died in hospital, surrounded by medical personnel. But still alone. About six weeks earlier, in a phone conversation, she said "I made some mistakes in my marriage." She still didn't get it, that it was "our" marriage. There was no doubt she spent most of her waking hours reviewing her life.

To late to change it then.

Fast forward several years to 2006 when my present wife and I decided to change our place of residence. Knowing we wanted to leave the Canadian province where we lived but not knowing where, we decided to spend the next two years researching and visiting the most likely possibilities.

Using the internet and telephone, we narrowed our first choice quickly to Miramichi, New Brunswick. About all we knew about Miramichi was that it had lots of water (rivers) flowing through it and nearby in the northern New Brunswick hinterlands. And that its people shared the well known friendliness of Canadian Maritimers.

On our first vacation visit to Miramichi, we were pleased by the settings and value of properties we saw, but shocked by the people. Miramichiers were unlike any people we had ever met in Ontario. They seemed to actually care about strangers. When they asked how you were, they waited to hear an answer because it mattered to them.

We decided to take our second vacation visit in 2006 to Miramichi as well. The shock of meeting people remained the same.

We discovered that people were more important to them than money. Though Miramichi is a relatively poor part of Canada in terms of accumulated wealth, the people respect themselves and each other. Even, as we learned, strangers. No one can look bewildered or lost or to have a problem in The Miramichi (as the region is known) without someone stopping to ask if they can help.

Sometimes, as New Brunswick is officially bilingual English/French, the helper could speak little or no English, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that someone apparently needed assistance. One stranger outside a library advised us to look at a house for sale he thought we might like nearby--he liked it but wouldn't put an offer on it if we wanted to buy it.

Another overheard my wife ask a clerk in a big store for postcards, which the store didn't carry and few stores did. The woman searched a store she thought she remembered had postcards, found the store, then waited in the middle of the mall for us to emerge so she could tell us where to find the cards we sought. These were just two small examples of the many offers of help we received.

In 2008 we bought a property outside of Miramichi. Since moving we have learned that Miramichiers and the Miramichi itself make our new home the best place on earth we could have found to live.

There you have two examples, one of a person who believed that money was the most important thing in life and another of people who believe that people are always more important, the most important thing in life.

The people of the Miramichi make every day meaningful. They live happy. They die fulfilled.
If you decide to move to the Miramichi, please leave your values, your prejudices and your materialist preferences behind. If you don't, you will be lonely here.

Bill Allin
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to grow children into adults who can lead fulfilling lives without sacrificing themselves to the masters of industry.
Learn more at http://billallin.com