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If you order from a bookstore, the U.S.   publisher is The Writers' Collective.   Give the store this number:               ISBN 978-1-59411-015-3


Price: $16.95

Pages: 294, includes full index and learning guides for parents and teachers

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Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems is available by ordering from your local bookstore or by ordering from the major online bookstores.

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Typical social (community    and personal) problems    addressed by TIA:
violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, other addictions, road rage, office rage, bullying, homelessness, teenage rebellion, thrill-seeking and depression, major crime, even illiteracy, high divorce rates and personal problems that lead to neuroses, bankruptcy or emotional breakdowns.

 

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Summer Morning



          Current Commentary

I Was A Loser

To be a good loser is to learn how to win.
- Carl Sandburg, Swedish-American poet, writer, and editor (1887-1967)

For a loser to become a winner first requires him to understand why he is losing, what is keeping him back from improving and gaining respect. (I use male gender words, though each statement refers to people of either gender. I find words that combine both genders to be clumsy.)

This is hardest for someone with hidden disabilities and disadvantages that are not recognized or recognizable by others. "Others" being peers, family, work colleagues, neighbours, religious organization friends, anyone who could recognize you as being someone worth giving the least bit of attention to.

A loser is, effectively, a non-person. Not that he doesn't exist, but that he is not considered by others to be worth attention. This lack of attention is not usually deliberate. People just don’t think about them.

In this sense, poor people are losers. Those who live in poverty are considered by those who live some distance above it to exist in poverty because they refuse to work enough to get themselves out of poverty.

Those who are not in poverty do not recognize that most poor people are single mothers who can't afford to pay someone to look after their children while they work, people of much lower than average intelligence that no employer wants to hire, people with mental or other kinds of disabilities and those who are mentally ill.

Social assistance (welfare) rolls rose dramatically in the 1960s when governments decided they could save money by eliminating institutions where those with mental disabilities and low intelligence were housed and cared for, and instead simply give them some cash to exist on their own. This incredibly poor decision caused health care costs (related to tax income) to soar because the now-helpless people with no one to depend on inevitably made poor food choices because they could not afford better and they didn't know what was healthy food if they could afford it.

They became chronically ill. Many stole to make their lives better, then found themselves in prison where they once again had food, housing and some minimal care. The problems listed above fit exactly the problems of a large majority of those in prison. Most prisoners are not well and healthy people.

Poverty is a profound disability (a psychological one, actually a collection of disabilities of a social nature) that is almost never recognized by anyone who does not live under those conditions.

I, personally, did not fit easily into any of those categories. Now you will learn about some other kinds of hidden life problems it took me decades to discover. Many doctors still do not recognize them because they are not taught as components of conventional medicine. I lived it, I didn’t just make it up.

I was born breech, meaning that I came out bum first. This is awkward for a doctor (not just terrorizing for the mother) because the big part of the baby comes first, so the mother's vagina has not fully enlarged gradually. The umbilical cord that still allows the baby (fetus) to breathe can get caught and squeezed shut in the exit jam. If the squeezing lasts for three minutes or longer, the baby will die from lack of oxygen to the brain.

My umbilical cord was squeezed for close to three minutes before I could breathe on my own in the birth room. No doctor can tell what has been damaged during that breathless period, either to the brain or to other parts (organs) of the body. My birth doctor told my mother that I might die within days or weeks. If I lived longer, I would likely die well before the age of thirty.

Some parents will treasure and coddle such a child that will soon die. Others, mine included, fear getting attached to their only child then losing him weeks or months later. I was, literally, babysat for the first years of my life. Indeed, I did almost die twice when I got scarlet fever. But I didn't die. I defied the odds then as I have since.

My father was an athlete, especially with ice hockey. The first time he tried to teach me to skate (on a rural road covered by freezing rain), I fell and broke my arm. I failed him as I was obviously too frail. As a boy I tried to emulate his hockey skills and experience, but my body was too weak to keep up with my teammates. I was never equal to my peers in anything athletic as I grew up.

My parents gave little attention to the child they expected to die. I went to school knowing nothing about books, for example. As it happened, my brain had been damaged during birth to the extent that I took years of school before I learned to read. Not only could I not read, I had trouble learning anything because the systems in my brain that would allow me to think worked so poorly that I could think only very slowly. But I could think. Slowly, very slowly, but I got there. Back then nobody had heard of Asperger's syndrome.

I was functionally illiterate until the age of 44. Before that I taught elementary school and earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from two highly reputed Canadian universities. All those years I never managed to read even one book all the way through. That is an excellent example of survival skills. We can manage when we want to.

In school my teachers and principals called me "lazy," to my parents' faces, in interviews. They could not accept that I could not read. To them, everybody was born equal, so anyone who could not match up was lazy. On standard intelligence (Stanford Binet) tests I scored average, though I rarely finished more than half the tests. That was the "proof" the educators needed to show I was lazy. It never occurred to them that I could not read the rest of the test.

In high school I was given starring roles in school musicals. My music teacher encouraged me to enter the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. I dropped out after one year because I could not make the grade. I could not read the music fast enough to keep up. I was not physically coordinated enough to play an instrument with those who would go on to be professional musicians.

My old music teacher rejected me for quitting. It never occurred to him that my brain worked too slowly to read music. Due to my impairment at birth, I had small motor problems so I could not play an instrument. The impairments piled up, though no one could see any of them.

To my music teacher, I had dropped out because it was hard work. He never asked why I quit, so he never learned the ugly truth of my hidden disabilities. To him, the other teachers had been right, I was lazy. It was, after all, the easiest conclusion because it required no effort to dig deeper.

My first wife thought I was stupid, so she left two children with me while she pursued her teaching career as a single woman. Only when I left teaching (out of frustration--no one would ever help) and began my own successful business did she realize she was wrong about me. It was too late. She had poisoned the children against me. Then she died. The children I helped to raise (maybe mine, likely not, I never knew though the evidence seemed obvious) rejected me. Their mother had taught them thoroughly.

As I learned to read while conducting my business, I learned more and more about the world around me. I read a lot--still very slowly--but I kept learning until some people called me a human encyclopedia. It took years for me to change from a know-nothing to a human encyclopedia.

By the time I closed my business, I decided it was time for me to share what I had learned. I wanted young people know learn what they needed to know about themselves and their world. Things they would never learn in school and, in many cases, not at home either. Things they needed to know but had no source to learn from. They should not need to learn through trial and failure.

Now, to some I am considered a kind of guru, a master who deserves respect.

It took a lot of work, a lot of rejection by others, a lot of neglect by those who thought I was not worth their trouble, and many decades of my life to earn that respect. Now people pay attention because I know how to get their attention.

Nobody considers me a loser now. “Loser” is not a state of life, just a state of mind.

In a sense, everybody has hidden disabilities or at least impairments. We can’t see those of people closest to us let alone those of strangers. We work around them because we must. Or we avoid those people whose impairments we understand least.

Bill Allin is the author of one book about education and hundreds of articles that are available free on the internet. You can learn more about him at https://billallin.com




Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's                             Epidemic Social Problems

 

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