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Turning It Around: Causes and Cures
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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
Copyright 2003-2012 BillAllin.com
All Rights Reserved
INSIDE THE BOOK
Looking Around Us Today
us have serious concerns about the world we live in. In some cases fear
and worry play a significant role in our lives. Conditions in our
communities seem so much beyond our understanding that they seem to be
out of control.
that we live in constant fear. The problems are relatively minor to our
lives, but nagging and incessant. Changes could make the quality of our
lives better. We want change, but feel helpless to control them.
Helplessness is a perception, a widespread belief. But it is not
reality. We look for short term solutions rather than long term cures.
can be done. One of our objectives will be to learn how to not be
helpless. Another will be to learn what can be done to make our lives
and those of our fellow citizens better. No bitter pills or great
sacrifices to make here. Just some straight thinking.
recognize these statements?
We live in a sick world.
I can't watch the news any more. It's all terror and violence.
How about these?
Kids today don't have any respect
for anyone or anything.
People don't care about laws any more.
The education system's at fault.
Schools don't teach what kids need.
Parents today don't take any responsibility for their kids. Things
would be different if parents were put in jail for crimes their kids
These words reflect the concerns and fears of people all over our
country. Every country. They result from our anxiety at being unable to
control many factors in our lives. We can't see anyone who is able to
turn the situation around. No help means no hope.
Our society can be reshaped into communities that better reflect the
wishes and values of the people who live in them. This book will
illuminate the path that can be followed. We will consider what can be
done, the objectives, goals and steps in the process toward
improvement. First we will look at the realities that upset most of us
and establish the extent of the damage that has been done. Once we
understand the problem facing us as a nation and as individuals, we
will consider solutions and options.
Consider these facts. They each relate to the problems. The examples
are from Canada only because it is my home country and it is often
looked to as a role model.
Eighty percent of Canadians over 65 have low literacy skills, meaning
that they have trouble with understanding and dealing effectively with
printed materials that confront them frequently. Forty-five percent of
all Canadians have low literacy skills. Twenty percent of recent high
school graduates have literacy skills too low for entry-level jobs.
Canada compares favourably with the U.S. (Saturday Night, September
A study done in 2002 found that 22 percent of adult Canadians have
serious reading problems, according to ABC Canada, a literacy awareness
group, quoting the International Adult Literacy Survey. Another 26
percent would have trouble reading such important written materials as
a doctor's prescription information sheet or a road map, completing a
job application or filling in a deposit slip at a bank. That's nearly
half of all adult Canadians. (Macleans, October 2002)
Estimates by medical experts suggest as high as 30 percent of teens
have some hearing loss due to ear damage resulting from listening to
loud music. Most teens in North America are exposed to drug use and
availability in school. For many teens, high school means living
through four years of fear.
Alcohol is present in the blood of at least one driver in over half the
cases of death in motor vehicle accidents in North America. That
despite aggressive campaigns against drinking and driving, strict laws
and stiff sentences including loss of driver's licence.
A majority of people fear walking alone at night in most North American
cities. In many cases people can't afford to move from a neighbourhood
where they are afraid 24 hours a day. Murders resulting from arguments
between spouses, drugs, organized crime and untreated psychoses occur
daily in many North American cities. Home invasions prove that even the
inside of your own residence might not be safe.
Some problems with our communities are so powerful and pervasive that
we avoid thinking about them. We turn our attention away and try to
carry on with our lives despite the tragedies and travesties going on
around us. But the anxiety lingers inside.
We live in the Information Age, a time when messages that used to
require hours, days or weeks of research can be accessed in seconds.
Yet literacy problems abound. It used to be that an illiterate person
was one who could not read. Now there are many people who can read but
do not understand some or all of what they read. These people consider
themselves literate, although they may not be able to understand
instructions for taking medicine, paying a bill or completing a tax
form, for example. They cant understand why life is so hard for them.
Most of us know at least one person whose life has been profoundly
affected by something violent, something invasive, something that
changed that person's life forever. Personal violence is a problem that
upsets many of us deeply. Lately even invasion of privacy by computer
hackers has risen as a form of personal psychological violence.
The idea for this book grew out of a desperate need, expressed by many
people around the world with whom I communicate regularly on the
Internet. Many would be happy if only someone would put everything
together as a package that could be presented to the leaders of North
American governments and leaders of governments on other continents
about undeniable, unignorable social illnesses and grievances that must
be addressed. Otherwise, they don't know what to do.
Politicians avoid discussing causes of such problems as they don't have
any idea what to do about them. They assume that these illnesses come
with the pace and demands of life in our time. If they do anything,
they spend tax money to make temporary patches to problems whose causes
they don't understand. If anything, they pass stiffer laws, build more
prisons and hire more police. The problems just get worse.
We will consider the path that may be followed to overcome these
problems and set us on a smoother course. The program we propose will
work toward a long term solution, one that will be effective for
generations into the future. No one person will be required to make a
lifelong commitment or costly investment to make it happen, but a
minimum commitment by lots of people will be needed once in a while.
How far along the path toward turning our communities around will
depend on the will and determination of those who want change.
This is a book of big thoughts, big ideas, big plans. They will be
presented in a form that will be easy for everyone to understand. Hope
for our country, mine and yours, rests with those who ask how it can be
done, not with those who blindly claim that it can't be done. It's an
impossible task only if there are enough people who believe it is. If
we understand the causes of the problems and commit to the path toward
solutions, there is every reason to be positive about the future and
about our ability to improve the lives of everyone in our country,
yours or mine.
Our media pundits have become cynical. With rapier fashion they
disembowel the ideas of anyone with the temerity to step forward with
new ideas. They don't want to report on good intentions. They want to
report trouble, violence, hurt and damage. It's what fills their news
pages and sells their daily papers. Yet the media have much to gain
from a transformation of the thinking of their audience. The media
could be the force for good that will make the plan succeed. This book
will give them lots of positive news to report to their audiences. The
media will be allies when they realize how much they have to gain.
For a long time in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, newspapers in
North America upheld causes, worked ceaselessly for change, held high
standards of excellence and insisted that everyone, especially our
leaders, should strive for these standards. Publishers today recognize
that leaders are not perfect. Rather than relishing in their
weaknesses, we should aim to get the best people we can in leadership
Today's media search tirelessly for what is wrong, damaged, evil. It's
often difficult to distinguish between the content of supermarket
tabloids, some of which report fictitious material as facts, and the
front pages of mainline newspapers, tabloid television programs and
even magazine style television programs and news reports. What is
fiction? What is fact? The lines blur. There is confusion, indecision,
moral compasses spin, chaos and anarchy seem at hand. It makes us all
dizzy and sick.
What is good and right? It's time to identify these. What do we
believe? It's time we shared this among ourselves. What legacy do we
want to pass on to future generations? It's time we plan to make it
happen. Today's media look for villains if they can't find heroes. We
will provide them with a heroic cause.
How can we effect changes to make our world better? Dare we even hope?
Yes, it is possible and there is good reason to hope. You can help.
Read this book, then decide if you want to add your voice to those of
millions of people like you.
Later in the book we will learn about some manageable changes for both
our education systems and the long term planning of our national and
regional governments. We will suggest a role that all citizens of the
21st Century need to play in bringing the necessary changes about. A
role that you can play, no matter what your feelings about politics and
education are now. And a path for all of us to follow for decades into
the future of our countries. This book is not about politics. It is
about people. People like you and me and millions of others in your
country, in my country.
Before that, we will examine some of the problems we all agree about in
our society. We will understand the solutions and recommendations for
change easier if we first understand the problems themselves, their
causes and the extent they affect our lives. Root causes, not the
actions of law breakers of today but what brought them as children to
become who they are now. Just as you can't cure cancer with a bandage,
providing more police today will not cure the causes of violence. It's
difficult enough to cure a disease when it's caught early. Our plan
will be to catch threats to the body of our country while there is
still time, before it suffers too badly from the disease. Then we will
have a chance to bring it back to health.
It will require a new form of national health and wellbeing, more
befitting world conditions that exist in the 21st Century than the old
ways. Nothing to be frightened of. You will likely find that the
objectives of the plan closely match the kind of community you would
like to live in. Remember, the problems are rooted in your people. It
only makes sense that the solutions will be too.
Together we will explore the problems and the paths to follow to make
improvements. Together we will work through the process and the goals.
Our society, our collective determination, will provide the means to
reach the destination we desire. The plan will need some help from us,
a small contribution of our moral support.
We will learn, to the amazement of many of us, how much we have in
common in our beliefs, our values and our morals. We will learn what we
can build together based on our common beliefs, with each person making
a small effort to bring about changes that we all believe are needed.
Then we can share it with others who have yet to learn. Your country
and mine will act as role models to other countries of the world who
are desperately waiting for some guidance that will help them to gain
cohesiveness, a national will that can make them more peaceful and
We will finally be able to build a road to peace, respect and mutual
tolerance in our world.
First let's set the stage by examining some of the problems.
Around: Causes and Cures for
Today's Epidemic Social Problems
by Bill Allin
(The Writers' Collective, 2005)
ISBN: 978 -1-59411-015-3
It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems