Quote du Jour
- 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
What is a meaningful life? What does it mean for a life to be
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
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
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
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.
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 <http://billallin.com/>
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Keeping Kids "Innocent" is Wrong, Ultimately Harmful
"Now I really suspect that Grandma is hiding [the newspapers with news about the Great War]. That would mean the news was so bad she did not want me to read it. But knowing the truth is better than imagining the worst."
- Jean Little, If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, part of the Dear Canada series that teaches history and culture to children through story telling
They grow up so quickly, don't they? How often have you heard that? Or maybe you have said it yourself.
Too many parents try to protect their children from the "cruel world out there" by hiding truth and reality from them. "There will be time for them to learn that later, when they are old enough and mature enough to handle it."
The trouble is, by the time the parents believe their kids are old enough to handle the bad news about life, the kids have usually already experienced the bad part. They are past the time when they needed the input. The parents failed in their most important function, to raise their children to know how to handle what they face in their lives.
Compared with most mammals and primates, humans have an extremely long period of childhood. Nature has accommodated this by allowing for the slow development of a child's body. Girls don't begin to become fertile (able to procreate) until they are old enough that their prehistoric female ancestors were ready to be mothers. Similarly with boys becoming sexually mature.
The frontal lobes of the brain, the parts that help us tell right from wrong, good from bad, and that help us to think our way through serious problems do not fully develop until well on into the teen years.
By the age that adolescents become sexually mature, most of them know almost nothing about what is happening inside their bodies (how the hormones will affect them, not just the mechanics of reproduction as studied in school), how the same is affecting those of the opposite sex and how they can and should manage their strong feelings of sexual attraction toward others.
A recent study in the United States showed that fully half the college students surveyed knew almost nothing about how to avoid pregnancy. Does that seem unbelievable? It isn't to those college students.
At the adolescent age of their kids, many parents are saying to other parents that "Kids are interested in sex too young these days," and "I don't want my kid to be having sex until he (or she) is much older and can handle the responsibility." That age is not 12 years. But kids (about 15%) have their first sexual experiences by that age. By age 14 or 15, virtually half of them have had sex at least once. Parents are in denial, unless a daughter becomes pregnant. Then they blame the daughter, or TV, or movies, or their family doctor, just about anyone.
There is no such thing as an age when a child is too young to learn about matters of adulthood. That's the whole purpose of childhood, for them to learn about being adults before they actually get there and have to live it.
However, there is a secret about conveying adult information and knowledge to children. It's not what you tell them so much as how you tell them. Like any kind of communication, the message must be formed in such as way that the receiver understands it and can absorb it. Preferably that the young person has understood the message enough that he or she can process how to incorporate it somehow into his or her life.
A child can know the intricacies of sex without actually feeling the need to have it with another person. There are consequences. One is pregnancy and that includes becoming a parent long before the adolescent is ready to become a parent, to raise, provide for and protect a child.
Teens have learned how to avoid having intercourse by having sex in such a way that pregnancy is not possible. One method for each gender is cunnilingus (for the female) or fellatio (for the male). These do open the possibilities for STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), including HPV infection, even throat cancer or HIV. The answer is not to hide these possibilities, but to discuss them so the adolescent has a chance to understand the risks.
Those who do not know make the most mistakes. The consequences of those mistakes often affect a person for the rest of his or her life. The knowledge young people need is not just about sex. It's about everything they may be exposed to in their lives, including at school, on the streets, on televison and on the internet.
Innocence in childhood becomes ignorance in adulthood. Innocent children suffer great disadvantages. Ignorant adults become victims of all kinds of problems. To make life worse, ignorant adults who received little help from their parents tend to be shy about asking for help from others when they are adults. In other words, ignorant adults tend to remain ignorant, often to the extent of refusing to learn when they have the opportunity.
There are no advantages for a child to remain innocent. There are huge and harmful disadvantages for an adult to be ignorant about the realities of life. One of those disadvantages is that ignorant adults tend to be more fearful of more different things than those who are knowledgeable. They also tend to lack empathy and often find it hard to be sympathetic. These are critically important characteristics we want in the generation that will soon run our country.
If you want a child who never grows up, get a dog or cat. If you are the parent of a child, help that child become a well balanced and responsible adult. It's the primary life responsibility of every parent. Talk about it.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of easy and inexpensive solutions to seemingly impossible problems. He gives advice through his web site and his internet group. To learn more about these go to index