We Need Better Lightning Bolts

It’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.
– Bill Watterson, comic strip artist (1958- ), in his comic strip Calvin & Hobbes

If only…

Those who claim that organized religion is on the wane may be correct. A few key reasons come to mind.

First, religion is supposed to benefit the individual believer, yet it more often benefits the leaders of the various segments within each religion. Religion benefits the leaders more than the individual followers.

Second, historically as well as at the present time clerics have been widely known to be among the worst violators of the sins their religions speak against in commandments.

Third, the massive expansion of media coverage of violations of the law among religious leaders among religious leaders has made following some of them like belonging to an organized crime family.

We must be suspicious of any religious leader who claims that what we do on earth is supposed to be solely to please God. While most of us want to be cooperative and follow religious and moral rules, we must question what kind of God had to create humans to be his servants and slaves. Does this sound like the beautiful and beneficent God our clerics tell us about?

Why did God give us free choice so that we could violate what he wanted of us? Isn’t that like a master-slave relationship where the master gives the slaves free reign to do what they want, then punishes them with eternal damnation if they do anything other than what they have been commanded to do? That doesn’t even make sense.

Clerics have over the centuries attributed every bit of misfortune to breaking of God’s commandments, resulting in everything from fires and floods to AIDS, bankruptcies and divorce. Enough people believe this nonsense that the rumour mill keeps churning behind the scenes even when the real causes and sources for natural disasters and personal misfortune can be proven.

It’s God’s way of paying people back for their sins, say some. But isn’t that what the hell they threaten us with is for? Either we should be punished here on earth so that we can all go to heaven cleansed or we should have free reign here and pay for our sins eternally after we die. If we get punished both here on earth and in hell, isn’t that double jeopardy?

If the strongly religious people truly believe that their God is all-powerful and will punish sinners accordingly after they die, why do the self-righteous want to punish people here on earth? Are they concerned that God might miss a sinner? Or do they have God-envy?

Let’s look at the self-designated upright pillars of society in a different light. If we examine their behaviour carefully, ignoring their message while focussing on what they do, they are really closet bigots. In fact, the self-righteous may be the most prejudiced people we have in our communities. They ignore that part of their holy book that says “Judge not that ye be not judged.” They tend to be the most judgmental people we have in our societies. Yet prejudice, they claim, is a sin. One for which they personally have no intention of paying any penalty.

On the surface, every religion is designed to help guide an individual through a complex and confusing life. In practice, most organized religions are tax collecting agencies who want to control the behaviour of their taxpayers so that they will give more.

If God is ashamed of anyone in our society, he could find no better objectives than the highly religious.

Every religion has good at its core. Every religion goes corrupt over time. Every religion has people who profit from donations and who know how to maximize them for their own benefit. Every religion has people whose prime objective is to bend the minds of the followers to do their will.

That’s what religions do. Not what they say they do, which is quite different, often quite the opposite.

Attendance at religious services is declining in most parts of the world where people are well educated. Not because the core of religion is at fault–because it isn’t–but because educated people understand fraud and choose to avoid it.

This doesn’t mean that belief in any doctrine is disappearing. I suspect the opposite. I think that we have more people who believe in what the core of the religion they were born into teaches while attendance at places of worship declines. Of course there will always be places where charismatic speakers can charm large audiences. We also have advertising that sells product well and politicians who can get themselves elected by making all kinds of promises they have no intention of fulfilling once elected. It’s hype. It works. It brings in money.

I find it ironic that I have never met an atheist who is anything other than a good person who tries to do his or her best for their family and their community. What they don’t believe in is the false gods that organized religions use to manipulate the minds of their followers. Most haven’t yet figured out how to find the real God.

The more self-righteous among us rail against false gods. Maybe they should look into a mirror.

Where are those lightning bolts when we need them?

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 tell truth from fiction, what is worthy from what is deceptive, what is real from what is devised by the greedy for their fraudulent purposes.
Learn more at http://billallin.com


The Secret Law of Abundance

The secret of the law of abundance is this: In order to receive and appreciate the good things of life, you must first give.
– Norman Vincent Peale, inspirational writer and speaker (1898-1993)

I confess that I have never heard of the “law of abundance” other than in this quote. The number of citations on Google is so great I conclude that many authors and speakers have used it for their own particular objectives, to lend greater credence to their arguments. The fact that Dr. Peale calls this law “secret” is nothing more than hyperbole.

However, the weakening of the first part of the quote takes nothing away from the second and more significant part. ” In order to receive and appreciate the good things of life, you must first give.”

This sounds counterproductive to anyone who was raised in a strongly capitalist society, where “Pay yourself first” is the prime rule for entrepreneurs and “Take as much as you can get” is the general rule for both business and personal lives.

Surely it doesn’t make sense to give away what you have earned in order to get more of “the good things of life.” That’s true. At least it’s true if you believe that the most important things in life–the “good things”–are either money or what can be bought with money.

Can money buy happiness? This debate has been ongoing for so long that it bores most people. No, many people say, but I’d like to suffer with more of that kind of unhappiness.

Does tickling a child make that kid happy? Does laughter alone give evidence of happiness? The feeling we get when someone tickles us comes from the same source as pain, from the same nerves, along the same pathways. Tickling and pain are essentially the same sensation, only pain is felt with greater intensity. If tickling and pain come from the same source, then the laughter from tickling by someone cannot be misconstrued as happiness. Happiness and pain/tickling must be different.

The joy people have from getting money, from keeping money and from spending money are all like tickling. They are all transient, all insubstantial, all subject to change in a flash. As with the sensation from tickling, the joy of money stops in a flash when the motivation stops.

A close friend expressed grief to me recently, explaining how much his “nest egg” investments in the stock markets had dropped so much in value as a result of the recession in the US. Not a single other factor in his life has changed except for the current value of his investments, but he has lost sleep over it. The fact that history shows that stock markets always recover and move to greater values means nothing to him because the value of his stocks today is much lower than it was a year ago. The tickle he felt a year ago has become his pain of today.

That’s not happiness. Nor should it rightly be considered worthy of unhappiness, pain or grief. Money is no more one of the good things in life than the shirt you are wearing right now. You might miss your shirt if you lost it or it wore out, but you know that you can get another. You can always make arrangements to get more money as well, though it might take longer than buying a new shirt.

Dr. Peale said that “you must first give.” That involves at least one person other than yourself. Giving to yourself is like emotional masturbation. You must give to others in order to receive and appreciate the good things of life. We even enjoy sex more when we work to make it more enjoyable for the other person. That benefit takes thought and effort, but it shouldn’t cost money.

No one understands why the “law of abundance” works this way–give in order to receive more in return. It likely has something to do with our fundamental nature as social creatures. We must need each other and depend on each other to feel secure, even though logically it would seem that someone who doesn’t need anyone else should be more secure. Those who feel the most secure need at least one other person, depend on at least one other person and strive to meet the needs of at least one other person.

They are happy when others around them are happy, have been made happy by something they have done themselves. That happiness returns to them, with interest.

The more we work to make others happy–not with money or what it will buy, but with love and effort–the more happy the others will be and the happier we will be in return.

The Christian Bible says “Give and ye shall receive.” Now you know why. Though places of worship want money, what the Bible wants you to give is love. Give love and you will receive love in return.

No, you can’t count that kind of love. But you don’t have to pay tax on it either. It has no real value in monetary terms.

Have you given love in the past, but not had it return to you by the one you loved? It’s highly likely that the other person was so steeped in the value of money that he or she couldn’t understand the value of love. That’s not your fault. Find someone else who does value the love and the happiness you have to give.

For those who believe in the value of money as the value of life, every relationship is a business relationship. Business relationships come and go based on the value that each party offers constantly and uninterruptedly to the other. That’s the core of the throwaway economy.

Love should not be thrown away. True love cannot be thrown away, but business love is disposable.

Find someone who can appreciate and enjoy what you have to give of yourself. You will find it comes back to you. Over time, that joy and appreciation will increase if both parties understand and work at what Dr. Peale calls the law of abundance.

Love thy neighbour as thyself. Sound familiar? Christians will recognize it as the prime commandment of Jesus. But the same advice exists in every religion, even if the words differ slightly.

Give and you will receive. But you must give first and you must give freely, not depending on what you will receive in return. If you are looking for return, you are basing your love on the business model of love. The easy come, easy go, disposable kind.

Real love makes you feel superhuman. The best the business kind of love can make you feel is powerful. Real love helps you to understand why so many people in every culture of the world believe that there is more to existence than these body vessels we inhabit during our lifetimes. The business kind of lovers will never understand, never appreciate, never enjoy the real good things of life, either here or in some future existence.

But they may appreciate a good tickle.

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 understand and appreciate the real good things of life, not just what they learn in school.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

How Bad Will The Future Really Be?

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
– Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, nicknamed “the wise” Roman Emperor, (121 CE – 180 CE)

An emperor of Rome, indeed the leader of any country up to modern times, would need to be sanguine about the future because the chances of his having his head detached from the rest of his body before that body was worn out stood exceedingly high.

What about old Julius? He certainly couldn’t have used all of his weapons of reason when he allowed his formerly trusted ally Brutus and his gang to slay him. Actually, he likely did. To the best of his ability.

Julius was a very ill man, suffering from a great deal of pain and loss of his abilities of perception due to disease at the time of his death. It’s entirely possible that he did the equivalent of falling on his sword, just to put himself out of misery. He knew he was too sick to rule Rome, to give it his best. Yet his honour forbade him from committing suicide, even if it be for the good of Rome. It’s highly likely that he knew what was about to happen when he met privately with his “enemies.”

In other words, we now know that Julius Caesar likely used the best of his mental faculties to do what was best for both himself and for Rome. History hasn’t recorded the event of his death that way, but history has a way of relating what its teller wants to the story to be.

Marcus Aurelius must also have used his abundant mental faculties during his almost two decades as emperor of Rome (actually king, as Rome did not call anyone an emperor). His reign was the ultimate example of Pax Romana and his death brought turmoil as to who should lead the greatest empire the world had known until then (later the British Empire was greatest in history, covering one-quarter of our planet’s surface at one time).

Though Christians were still persecuted in his time in theory, in practice they seldom were. Rome (undoubtedly a brutal regime in many ways, though hardly the worst in history) really was fairly peaceful during Marcus’s reign. It would have required considerable weapons of reason to make peace so effectively that the period was given its own name.

So we turn to ourselves. Every media outlet in the western world and most in other parts of the world report almost daily about how bad conditions are in the world. I have heard many young people from North America say that they don’t plan to have children because the world is just getting worse and they couldn’t in all good conscience bring children into such tragedy.

The world must be getting worse, just listen to our media tell us. But it’s not so.

No point in history has ever been so peaceful, with such a great percentage of people living long lives, healthier than their ancestors, in human history. The media always tell us that the world is a terrible place and leave us to conclude that the future will surely be worse. Neither is true.

Even during the dreaded Holocaust, when millions of Jews, cripples, people with much lower than average intelligence and people who simply pissed off the Germans were being exterminated, good things were happening elsewhere in the world. In the west, women who worked necessary jobs in factories earned a decent living and started a movement for equal rights for women that is still going on today. The Jews that survived got a country of their own a few years after the war, something they had not been able to accomplish for themselves for the previous 3000 years. The powers of the world came together as never before to defeat evil.

Just as Marcus Aurelius said that we will face the future as it comes to us with the same weapons of reason that we use today, we must use the weapons of reason we have available to us today. Or we will make the world a worse place to live, unsafe, unhealthy, unlivable for our children and grandchildren.

Our weapons of reason that help us to cope with today must make us realize that good things are happening in the world each day, even we if don’t read about them. We must reason that just because our media report almost exclusively bad news does not mean that the world itself is getting worse. They just report what many people want to hear. Paris Hilton makes the news when she sneezes (and maybe her dress has a “wardrobe malfunction”), but we hear nothing about the millions of good people around the world and in our own communities who are doing good deeds and making good things happen every day.

It’s important that we heed Marcus Aurelius’s advice about the future. It won’t be as bad as the fear mongers want us to believe (they make their living scaring people, remember, rather than getting “real” jobs). And the present isn’t as bad as almost every source of information we have make it out to be.

We need to use our weapons of reason every day of our life, not just about the future. The more we refuse to find out information about what is really going on in the world and decline to use our powers of reason when we learn it, the worse the world will become and the worse our own lives will become.

Not learning and not thinking is what will make the world really worse. Bad guys can easily manipulate the thinking and voting of people who are ignorant and who don’t want to think for themselves, who depend on others to think and to tell them what to think and believe.

We have the power within us, even those of us with the poorest of education and the most dire of backgrounds. It doesn’t cost a thing to use it. We just have to try.

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 about subjects other than the limited ones taught in schools.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

The Night The Moon Will Appear Square

Those who understand only what can be explained understand very little.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian writer of psychological novels (1830-1916)

We live in a world molded to a great extent by both science and economics. They don’t control our moment to moment existence, but they form the framework around which we tend to build our belief system.

For example, science creates a drug and physicians (some of whom derive a commission by prescribing that drug) prescribe it, while the patients accept that taking the prescribed drug must be necessary as the only way to heal because a respected professional recommended it. We believe because we trust the source, or think we must.

Almost every major newscast on radio and television includes a stock market report even though its content bears extremely little on everyone but a few who may be listening. However, many listeners will believe that the rise or fall of the share price for Microsoft or Exxon has some magical effect on something that influences their lives, somewhere.

Scientists and economists, indeed all people in the traditional professions, work with factors they can understand and manipulate (or could if they had the power). The scientific method (hypothesis, testing, conclusion) depends on the users having factors they understand and can work with (“massage” in the case of economists). What they don’t understand, they can’t manipulate, thus isn’t important.

That extends to what isn’t important to them–as they have so much influence on our lives–being considered as non-existent or unimportant to us. In fact, some people claim the inability to prove the existence of God using scientific method as evidence, even as proof, that God does not exist.

That thinking is an easy sell for people who believe that science has the answers (proofs) and for those who understand just how much fraud has been perpetrated on simple minded people over the past millennia of human history.

Just as the fact that because someone robbed a bank means that banks are unsafe places to save our money cannot be accepted as valid by most people, the perpetration of fraudulent “facts” and imagined history on people who will not take the trouble to investigate for themselves should not make anyone believe that God does not exist. Even if science searches for evidence of God, but in places where God has no interest, though people have made fantastic claims about God working in these ways, that does not prove that God does not exist.

The article is not about the existence of God, but about how easily people’s minds and belief sets can be influenced by convincing arguments made by determined people.

If I were to tell you that our moon will appear as a square rather than as its usual disk on August 1, a considerable number of people would make a point of checking out the sky on that date. Because they believe the moon will appear square? No, because they believe me as someone with authority on one subject, so I might have expertise in another. How many predictions of Armageddon go unfulfilled each year around the world, despite the fact that many people prepared for the Final Event in each case?

In the investment business there is a saying that “If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.” That should apply to what we believe as well.

Asking followers to “just believe” or to “have faith” that something that sounds unbelievable is real or true should be a tipoff that a fraud is in progress. Or at least a distortion of reality. Though there are many examples of this in religions, more happen every day in television commercials, in unsolicited mail in our mail boxes and email inboxes, even in movie promos that precede the feature we went to watch.

Those who understand only what can be explained not only understand very little, as our Austrian writer stated, it’s more important for us to know that they may not be capable of understanding more than they can manipulate in their minds. They form beliefs based on what they can and cannot manipulate with their minds.

Let’s take a common example that has been foisted on us for decades. Science fiction movies have made us believe that if “aliens” came to earth from a distant planet, they would almost certainly want to harm us, to obliterate us. According to these movies, the only viable action we should take is to destroy them as soon and as completely as possible.

Other movies have humans travelling through space to other planets and approaching them in peace, with the objectives to make contact, to share and to help them if we can.

Apparently in the movie business only humans are civilized enough to travel with peaceful intentions. Peace, just like here on earth, right?

Those two possible scenarios have been repeated dozens of times in movies, even though together they are not just hypocritical, they are absurd. Yet one of our major forms of entertainment perpetrates this absurdity on us again and again. We go in peace, everyone else comes to destroy us. We find enemies not just on earth, but we invent them in space.

If Moses or Jesus of Nazareth or the great prophet of Islam were to return to earth today, how long would they last before they were killed in some manner or another? Half the people alive in the world today purport to believe in these people and to follow their ways and their words (which differ very little, except in ritual). You can be certain that one of the “believers” would be the murderer, not someone who doesn’t believe in that person in the first place.

Do we really believe that peace is possible in the world? Our media don’t present us that way. Should the real heroes not be those who can bring peace where none existed before, not those who can defeat one invented enemy after another? Which is the greater accomplishment, bringing peace or making war? Heroes should save lives, not destroy them.

If we will ever make sense of a world that is trying to twist our minds into knots, we need to teach children how to think critically and to not be bamboozled by frauds, charlatans and propagandists. We could never teach the older ones, the adults, because they already believe what they have been told to believe.

Beliefs are at the centre of the life of every human. Everyone accepts that we need to teach beliefs to children. I propose that we need to teach how to distinguish among that fraudulent claims made by many people and many sources about what we should believe. The only way that could succeed would be to teach children before their minds get tangled, twisted, molded.

That change would not be hard to enact. But we can’t expect schools to change themselves because teachers get paid to teach what is on the curriculum and teachers rarely have the final say about what goes on the curriculum.

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 avoid becoming automatons, products of corporate interests.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

You Were Inevitable

“Life only starts to make sense when you realize that sometimes–often all the time–two completely contradictory ideas can be true.
Everything that led up to you was wrong. Therefore, you should not have been born.
But everything about you is right: You had to be born.
You were inevitable.”
– Jonathan Coe, The Rain Before it Falls, Viking (U.K.), 2007

Perhaps the most inspiring words I have ever read.

Jonathan Coe’s multi-generational narrative takes the reader through decades of grievous family history, where everything including abandonment, emotional abuse and the beating of a child that blinded her points to a cold, dire, sometimes brutal existence for the recent descendants. Yet the blinded girl had to be born and grew up to be happy and fulfilled, according to the narrator of the story.

But, That’s me, I thought. And it could be you.

Maybe the terrible family history and problems you had to face in your life prepared you for the total person you are today.

You are not the tragedies of the past in your life, nor the calamities that befell your family before you came along. You were the product of them, yes, but you came through them.

To the average person, the rock that will one day become a beautiful sculpture is nothing but a rough, crass chunk of space debris. To a sculptor, the rock is the protection that has surrounded the beauty he will soon reveal from within, for eons. Somehow or another, the rock clothing that surrounded you has been chipped and drilled away to reveal something beautiful. Something beautiful that is you.

If you identify yourself as being the product of a troubled past, you will act the role of the troubled person of the present waiting for something else to go wrong to destroy your life. If you see yourself as the beautiful creation you have become, you will be a different person.

You are not your past, nor the inheritor of the troubled history of your family. You are who you are. Not only are most of your ancestors not alive today, not even you can live in your own past. You are who you are today, no matter what happened in the past.

Your past is no more real today than the genocides of Hitler, the agonies of The Great War to End All Wars or Joan of Arc tied to the stake. Today is today. It can only be today. The past brought you to where you are today, but it does not force you to be its victim.

You were inevitable.

If you want to make yourself useful to the world, make it better for someone. The more people whose today you improve, the more likely they are to pay the favour forward.

The world improves not by those who destroy, but by those who create and improve in preparation for the future. Generally speaking, your life is better than the lives of any ancestor in your past. If it doesn’t seem that way, then maybe you aren’t looking at what is right and good.

When you see what is right and good in your life, pass it on. You don’t know how much better the future can be for your descendants. But you can try to do what is right and good for them.

Teach right. Teach good. Teach peace. (What I call the Philosophy of T3)

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to grow into a better world that they will help to create. You can help to prepare them.
Learn more at


Why You Lost At Love

In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love, you want the other person.
Margaret Anderson

In one line we have a summary of the difference between two very important kinds of love in our life.

With romantic love, we want something from the other person, something incoming from the other person (whom we desire) for ourselves. With real love, we want the best of ourselves outgoing to the one we love. By “the other person’s good” Anderson means the welfare of the other person.

Can the two exist within one person, between two people? It’s possible and many claim to have succeeded, but the feat is so difficult as to be highly unlikely.

Romantic love is a hormonal attraction, a primal instinct we have to spread our genetic material (DNA) to future generations, though this gets sidetracked by birth control methods and with same-sex relationships. The feelings are there even if the objective is something other than having babies.

Romantic love usually lasts from two months to eight months, though exceptions see it lasting two years or longer in rare cases. Romantic love is very energy demanding. As with mating rituals of other species, romantic love with humans requires great production of hormones and huge demands on the metabolism, which over a long term could negatively impact the immune system. In other words, romance is hard work on the body.

Real love, as Anderson calls it, requires commitment, which involves a very different set of requirements on the body, specifically on the brain. Interestingly, Margaret Anderson’s real loves were of others of the same gender as her. Her romantic loves, if she had any even with other women, would have been brief and relatively insignificant to her compared with her real loves, two women with whom she shared her life (monogamously) for many years (one was the widow of the great tenor Enrico Caruso).

It would be very hard to have your own best interests at heart (romantic love) and the best interests of the love of your life at heart (real love) simultaneously. The push-pull would tear a person apart emotionally.

Why do so many relationships end in heartbreak and divorce? When the romantic period ended, the two people were not prepared to give more of themselves when they had got used to receiving from the other. Heartbreak occurs when the romantic period ends for one party while it still continues in the other.

In a relationship such as marriage, breakup and divorce brings a slightly different kind of heartbreak. Both kinds of heartbreak, however, involve grieving for the loss of the other. That is, the person with the heartache regrets the loss of what he or she was receiving from the other, not the fact that he or she will not be able to give of themselves to the other any longer.

Heartache, like any other kind of grieving, is both personal and selfish. Few people believe, deep down, in the saying “If you love someone, let them go. If they return, it’s love, if they don’t, it never was.”

Both romantic phases of relationships (or the potential to have one) and real love fail mainly because one or both parties don’t know the skills, the requirements and the commitment involved with keeping a relationship going. More romantic relationships never happen because one of the parties is socially ignorant of critically important social skills than because of inadequacies in the looks department. It’s hard to fall in love with someone who doesn’t know how to be romantic. Men may like to look at dumb blondes, for example, but few want to marry one.

On the other hand, two beautiful people may fall deeply in love, with hormones rushing like the Kentucky Derby, but the relationship may fall apart if one or both lack the skills necessary to keep the non-sexual part of the relationship going.

That often happens with real love too. Couples who “drift apart” don’t just develop different interests. One or both lose track of the giving part of the relationship, the part where they both have to constantly have the best interests of the other at heart at all times.

Love, the most powerful emotion we have and the greatest of bonds we can have with another person, is not a simple business. Few people are prepared to love another person who has little idea about what is needed to sustain real love. It would be like allowing someone who has just passed a first aid course to do brain surgery on you. It ain’t gonna happen.

In good relationships, people want another person with the same levels of skills and knowledge as themselves. Someone with more knowledge and skills is a bit intimidating. Someone with fewer skills is dull and inept.

In a relationship where the person with the greater knowledge and skills wants it to work, that person must bring the other up to speed or the whole thing will fizzle.

Someone who knows he or she lacks social knowledge and skills about dating, marriage and the whole issue should go to the trouble to read up on the subject. Most of it can be learned from books borrowed from a library. Or by taking a course at a college or private school that may offer it, if one is available (they are scarce). Or by befriending someone who has the skills and pumping that person to give what they know.

There’s nothing pretty about ignorance. In any relationship, almost no one wants to have a lover who doesn’t know what they are doing. And the odd one who does, I wouldn’t trust.

There’s no shame in being ignorant about love. The shame is in knowing you are ignorant and doing nothing about it, then blaming others for being so “cold.”

In something as important as love, whether it be of the romantic variety or the “real” kind, it pays to find out what you should know before setting out. Otherwise you may as well wear your ignorance on your forehead. Loser!Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teaches who want to grow children who know how to have good, sound relationships because they know what they need to know.
Learn more at



How We Learn To Love An Unhealthy Lifestyle


As I write this I am experiencing a high level of anxiety brought about by stress from many different sources over a period of several weeks, my present purpose being to convey not my feelings but the effects that stress over a long period of time has on my thinking and decision making. The effects of stress on one person can affect another person similarly, if not identically, thus my experience can be a learning situation for you.

I have experienced depression and its effects in the past, though that was cleared entirely by my taking vitamin D supplements to compensate for the lack of sufficient direct sunlight on my skin to allow my body to create vitamin D on its own. The effects of depression bear striking similarities to the effects of stress/anxiety over a long period of time.

With depression I found that triggers would set off a bout of anger for a period of several minutes (up to an hour), then the emotional energy would dissipate and turn into what most of us would call depression. With stress, the anger comes to stay, varying in degree enough that it could often be called intolerance of the behaviour of others, inability to understand the life situations of others (lack of empathy) or a strong desire to get away from the company of specific people, rather than it being labelled easily as anxiety.

My present anxiety caused by long term stress has not resulted in any thoughts of suicide, which depression has done in the past. While I seek relief from the effects of my anxiety, I do not want to resort to easy solutions such as medication, addictive behaviour or the ultimate easy way out, suicide.

Why should you care? One or more people you know (perhaps many) may exhibit the some similar behaviours as I do right now, for the same causes. You may know nothing about the causes of the people you know or my own because we don’t talk about them. We only talk about the effects, the bad behaviour, sometimes our own but usually of others who we think act weird or permanently irritable.

Stress has caused me to lose sleep–a considerable amount over a period of weeks–and this could easily compromise my immune system as well as causing me to exhibit symptoms of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation alone could cause irritability, inability to get along with others and a short fuse on the temper. Coupled with long term anxiety it could result in amplified instances of anger, intolerance, not paying attention to the needs of loved ones, not taking proper care of loved ones due to an egocentric attitude, even a desire to generate conditions which could destroy a close relationship just to have something “happen” to give a person the feeling that he or she is in control of something.

Stress can cause loss of sleep, but the sleep loss effects add to the effects of long term anxiety, rather than simply overlapping them. One doubles up with the other, so to speak.

Now we have causes which could result in such well known behaviours as road rage, office rage, marital arguments, marital incompatibility (real or imagined), disconnects in relationships with a person’s own children, lack of interest in sex (at least of the softer, gentler, more loving kind), erectile dysfunction, inability to cope with other personal problems, even turning to addictive behaviours or substances for some form of relief.

Enter drugs, prescribed and otherwise. Prozac is the most prescribed drug in North America. Legal and illegal sales of Viagra and Cialis flourish. As many as 25 percent of people in many communities may have used marijuana or one of its derivatives

in the past year. The rates of divorce in most countries of the West hover around or above 50 percent. Examples of physical and emotional abuse surface frequently. Police must deal with family problems on about one-quarter of their calls in many communities. I don’t have statistics to show what effect martial problems could have on other socially unacceptable behaviours, such as fights in bars or even theft from employers.

Where do people who suffer from these problems turn to find socially acceptable help to solve their problems? A family doctor will likely prescribe drugs, which solve nothing, merely cover up symptoms. Some–the lucky ones–get referred to counsellors who specialize in helping people who suffer from anxiety symptoms caused by high stress. Unfortunately, that part of the health care community is so fixed on a steady source of income that treatment may not be the best because it’s in the financial best interests of the practitioner to have the professional help last as long as possible.

The whole ethic of teaching children about what they must do to “succeed” in the working world prepares them to face and accept stress and long term anxiety, though not how to cope with them.

We teach kids to not just enter the rat race, but to believe that this is the way life is and should be, and that they should learn to “enjoy it” by making as much money as possible and finding as many “interesting” ways of spending it as they can.

This article cannot present instant cures for complex problems. It can only point to the way that those with a concern for solving those problems should turn.

Treat broken adults one by one and we continue with our present kinds of problems. Teach children how to cope with the lives they will live in the future, as adults, and we change the path of the future for our descendants.

Change is possible if we know what we want to achieve and where to begin that change process.

Teach the children.

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 cope with their lives as adults better than today’s adults can.
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