Afshin Rohani

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Are the Youth of today Writing the Future?

After viewing this TEXYouth day talk:

I'm compelled to ask who is really writing the future? If youth are the spearhead of change, then what can they do to fulfil their responsibility?

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    Jan 13 2014: The future does not belong only to the youth, but to everyone in existence, past and present. It has been this way throughout history and will continue to be this way through the ages.

    What the youth does have on their side is more strength and agility, while older people have more experience and consistency.

    The future belongs to everyone. It is a team effort. We all need each other to affect positive change. It is a mistake to put all the responsibility and onus on the youth. Change needs to be dynamic, but also retrospective.
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      Feb 11 2014: I agree with you Martin. As an older person, I think it is critical that we teach and inspire our youth. We also need to listen to them. True change and innovation is rarely fully formed or recognized for its value early on. We all need to work together and levrage the stregths of our respective generations.
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        Feb 11 2014: Evolution provides us with yesterdays brain to solve tomorrows problems

        The cold hard fact is that we also provide our youth with a false sense of reality, just as we were, when we instill in them our irrational beliefs, our prejudices and biases.
        This is what they must overcome if they are to write a meaningful future, but this is also true for every generation
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    Gord G

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    Jan 22 2014: No. The youth of yesterday are writing it. The youth of today are learning to spell. ;-)
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    Jan 21 2014: Remember October revolution, French revolution, big wars? They included whole societies, old, youth, their energies and minds. The future is result of collective spirit, and collective mind. Everyone can bring changes that are important for the future.
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    Jan 30 2014: Youth are the test pilots of the future. Their thirst for adventure, zest for life and caution to the wind risk-taking make it possible to utilize this age group to determine what works, what people like and youth are the most expressive with their opinions solicited and unsolicited. The writers of the future are those who outlive the past. They are the ones who lived through the past and write the future with hope that is will not be repeated. The future mirrors the past only up to the point the generations of the past exist. Once past generations are extinct the future transforms and changes. Every human being on earth has a responsibility to the past, present and future. If this were not so, there would be no reason for one’s existence on earth. As humans move through time, they serve life as youth, leaders and writers of the transformative future.
    • Feb 12 2014: The youth don't get to "test pilot" anything until they're no longer youth. As in all previous eras, it is the MIDDLE AGED who are writing the future. They then sell a fake "future" to the youth, who foolishly buy into pre-packaged novelty and fake rebellion.
  • Jan 14 2014: Think about this: The only reason there was a past, is because there was a "now" moment that people lived in and accomplished things. The only reason there might be a future, is because there is a "now" moment that people are using to accomplish things. When you think about it, the future and the past don't exist, the only thing that does is the "now" moment.

    Who's writing the future? Every single living person is writing the future. Our thoughts create our reality and the world we live in., and not the other way around. You are all that there is to be, so therefore by being, you leave a mark on reality. Even the little South African gold mine worker can write history by just being a gold miner; he's part of a workforce that pushes the gold for the world, if he wasn't there, that's one less person to work the mine, meaning less labor power, slower production. By just being there, also, he can be photographed by another person (who's being), and have his portrait shown to the world and expose the conditions of labor where he comes from (sparking the mind of viewers worldwide, creating new thoughts that they might work on, to, in their turn, affect the world one way or another. Maybe by creating projects, or starting movements, that, in their turn spark other minds to do other things that affect reality on a grand scale). It's a chain reaction proving that we're all connected by our minds, and we're all one.

    Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr never had a dream? Or Gandhi took arms instead peace? Or if Hitler had thought slightly differently? I know these are men who had a bigger platform to act, but still, just imagine if they had thought slightly differently... The world wouldn't be as it is now. No matter how small or insignificant a person might think of himself, he plays a big part in reality by just existing and being. Some people get inspired by just observing others, imagine if the observer had no one to observe?

    I think I went too deep, but you get the point
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      Jan 15 2014: I absolutely agree with you. A perso can be a hero of the world but before, he was a child. He was brought by his family, shools, society. This society write his future and later, he contributes to write on future of the world. Noone succeeds by himself, even genuis such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates... So, all of us will write the future.
    • Jan 25 2014: No Jean I think you went just the right amount of depth and your explanation, I believe, was right on. Buddha explained it thousands of years ago like this:
      "Nirvana is this moment seen directly. There is no where else than here. The only gate is now. The only doorway is your own body and mind. There’s nowhere to go. There’s nothing else to be. There’s no destination. It’s not something to aim for in the afterlife. It’s simply the quality of this moment."
      He also blew big holes in the absurd idea that what we do does not matter, that we can just sprinkle pixy dust and be reborn a different person. "No one saves us but ourselves. We ourselves must walk the path"- Buddha
      Then finally the just as absurd idea that we should be all giving and ignore our our happiness. “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”- Buddha
      And finally the Dalai Lama added: "The purpose of our lives is to be happy"
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    Jan 13 2014: the wording of this question makes it sound like a deliberate act by people all on the same page. i don't think this is the case at all.

    personally, I feel it is the great travesty of the internet that young people feel the world is screwed and that it is their responsibility to fix it. enjoy life.
    • Jan 15 2014: I get the impression that that is the general disposition of TED. Right? What can we do better? Maybe we can enjoy advancement?
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        Jan 15 2014: questions made pointless by the constant use of the word "we". this is a characteristic of many TED talkers - to keep lumping everyone into one boat. the H.M.S. WE & US.

        TED is a strange place where the blind proponents of technology have already convinced themselves that tapping their opinions and curiosities into their keyboards will save the world or somehow make it better. maybe the latter and possibly the former but i highly doubt it.

        the internet has increased dialogue which in turn has increased confusion - largely because there are now many different ideas about how the world works, many of which are just opinion and personal perception but all presented in convincing ways.

        entertainment is the winner. don't let all your 'entertainment' be those memes banging on about how badly screwed up the world is. it always has been. there will always be rotters in the world but that doesn't have to bring you down.

        fight the good fight but take plenty of time to enjoy life with friends and family - that's the best future anyone can write for humanity.
        • Jan 16 2014: Not many things get me as excited as people who believe they can make a difference. Entertainment is the winner if you're looking for fun, sure, but what about helping others? The work of it might not always be fun but the fruit of it might be just what we need. And I do mean we. If I want for me, I will always be hungry, but when I help others I cant help but help myself in the process. Why not utilize the internet?

          The birth of the internet has its own pains you know. It is still in it's infancy and is a little confused about it's own identity, sure, but I think TED is on to something here and has every intention of helping us all move forward.

          What value is entertainment if that is all it does? But if we couple it with an informative experience, then maybe we have the future of the school system.

          Also, Davinci code, for example may be an example of entertainment doing what you claim that the internet is doing. that's just made up junk coupled with history to make it optimally entertaining. Optimal junk. If we are going to be good at something, lets make it produce a good result and test it before we put it on blast.

          I'll be honest with you. You got me pissed off.

          We is the point, ya punk!
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        Jan 16 2014: you make the internet sound like a person but it's really more like an expensive library with a massive porn-section.

        the school system is broken only because of sheer numbers. once robots do all the work, education will finally soar. until then, school will remain a jumped-up nursery with political value at election time.

        arguably, these days, everything is entertainment - you just choose which one you think is important. education is going through that transition now. people discuss the flaws of the industrial system and tout the sacredness of creativity - largely regurgitating populist talks and seminars - it's a form of entertainment.

        but it's not about simply making learning entertaining, it's about using the tools that are in tune with the times - video, photography and audio being the obvious motivators and media for passing on information. IP laws are going to be the biggest threat to that in the very near future.

        you're right about entertainment and junk being the same thing - look at what gets the most hits on popular sites - the simple or the puerile - but there is no cultural hierarchy. whatever gets you through the night, right? so that junk entertainment just happens to also be essential.

        obscenity, who really cares?
        propaganda, all is phony.
        - Bob Dylan.
        • Jan 16 2014: I dont understand you, man. Unless maybe the issue you have with the internet is that you have a pessimistic impression that you apply to everything you're reading. That's based off literally 100% of your opening statements, not to mention what follows... That's probably what drives you to want to throw it all away and just try and enjoy life. Idk, but I'm done talking to smoke and mirrors.

          People have potential and are always doing something with it, good or bad. That's all I got for you.
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        Jan 21 2014: oh yes, my glass is half-empty, but that's because it's vodka and i just skulled half of it.

        taking a different stance on a topic (even if it is different from everyone else) is not pessimism.
    • Feb 12 2014: Let me guess, you were born yesterday. The idea that "young people feel the world is screwed and that it is their responsibility to fix it" was far louder and more strongly articulated FIFTY YEARS ago than it is, today.

      You infants think all of reality was invented last week.

      IT WASN'T! Get over yourselves. Reality did not come into existence at your birth.
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        Feb 13 2014: Ah, Mr Baloney,

        you obviously don't have access to my date of birth.

        while i'm sure that it's all been done before, it has not for the newest generation.

        as Einy pointed out, it's all relative.

        reality is a very different thing in the age of connected vanity
  • Feb 7 2014: Now adays, belive me that the youth has no rule in the future, cuz those who came before are directing the youth the way they want it... they are making the youth future as their future... it will always be like that... the youth will maintain the future of the old... and so on..
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    Feb 3 2014: In many ways, it would appear that the youth of a generation are the writers of their own future. However, I feel that the future is also very much set out by the seniors of a generation, which allows the youth to fit in to their path and add creativity and innovation to a world prepared by previous generations.

    Imagine a line that has been carved in the sand, this line represents a world that has been ‘written’ by a generation. Imagine water being poured in to this cavity, representing the youth of a proceeding generation coming in to this world. Largely the water will follow it’s intended path, however depending on varying circumstances, tributaries will form and new lines will be carved by the water along the way.

    This loose analogy, for me, explains that the youth of a generation can only develop upon an existing generation’s efforts, based upon how their future has been prepared. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the future has been written, but it has been prepared in a manner for the youth to be able to develop into.

    In essence:

    If senior members of societies were the sole writers of the future, creativity and innovation would cease, as the younger generation would be predestined to fully follow the efforts of a previous generation.


    If youth members of societies were the sole writers of the future, development would be nonexistent, as the efforts of a previous generation would have been disregarded.

    I believe that the future is written by a balance of both youth and senior input into society.
  • Jan 27 2014: The future is written in the past. Enjoy your life, it's the best you can do with it :)
  • Jan 26 2014: I think some are and some aren't. Now a days, socety as a whole has become extremely selfish. All most everyone worries about is What is this going to do for me? How will this affect me? I notice that kids these days just want everything, and their parents give it to them. That doesn't give me very much hope for future generatinos. But, then you have those few younger kids that actually do care. They help there classmates, volunteer and they don't beg for the most up to date devices and clothing etc. Those kids I believe are writing our future.
  • Jan 22 2014: It's not a "YES" or "NO" question. It depends on the definition of "YOUTH", the people concerned and their circumstances (Socio-economical, Geographical etc.,) Not many people in history have single-handedly written the future. It's a constantly evolving collaboration of both OLD & YOUNG and everything in between that can last for a few days to possibly few DECADES as well. Writing the future can't be done in a few days. An IDEA that flashes in one's youth may take one's lifetime to achieve it. So, at what age success is achieved may depend on the complexity of the IDEA itself (that may or may not have a lasting IMPACT)..
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    Jan 16 2014: We are all writing the future to a greater or lessor extent.

    depends on how much impact people are having in different fields.

    I'm not sure if the youth are having a disproportionate impact. Perhaps. Or maybe those in power, those art the peak in their professions are making the largest impact on average.

    Probably varies by field. It may be the younger people having more impact in iPhone apps, but generally more established scientists and doctors making a difference in science and medicine imo.
  • Jan 15 2014: The middle-aged of today are writing the future, as has happened in every other era. The "youth" make a lot of noise but do little to nothing of substance until decades later. That's how humans do things.
    • Jan 20 2014: A twelve year old girl bagged and handed out 300 food bags to those in Nicaragua that could't afford food for their family's with 15 other teenagers. She took pulses to help the doctors, she gave her own food to the girl who couldn't find food. A thirteen year old boy who has heart problems has only told a select few about his problem, he plays football but can't try out for a team because of his condition, his goal is to save another boy with the same dream, so he can try out. Two high school students have contributed cancer research to the community college for a science fair. The youth are contributing more than you think. The problem isn't that we don't want to make the world a better place, it's the little faith people have in us, it's the many youths that give us bad publicity.
      • Jan 20 2014: That's nice. The "youth" still aren't running the world and won't run things until they become middle-aged. That's how humanity does everything. It's called "reality" vs. "wishful thinking".
    • Jan 21 2014: Not so true, there are intelligent and good doers that are in youthful ages.
      • Feb 12 2014: Irrelevant. Utterly irrelevant. HOW MUCH POWER do those "intelligent and good doers" have AS A GROUP BY AGE?

        The middle aged write the future, always have, probably always will, unless people all die at the age of 25.
  • Jan 14 2014: i feel that the people who are writing the future are the people who are working on something that is going to cause change. technology, medicine etc.. any on else agrees?
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      Jan 15 2014: I disagree with you on that. Although I cant deny that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg... change the world but they are not unique. This world is very diversified and it is a sum of many fields. If history and future are development of technology, medicine.., the world will become dry so much. The real show thats: economic decides all other factors very much, so business men and economists are very important. Besides, Education has always brought a special mission critical decisions about the future of every person, every family, every nation and all mankind; and teachers and lecturers will contribute to change the world.
      Each nation has history with wars. If we had no heros, politicians, leaders, would we have present, much less future.
      Future is not only good but also bad. Every person cant live alone, they are affected by others. So every person is a part who will write history.
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    Jan 13 2014: We, humans, collectively write our future. However, Nature limits what we can and cannot do.
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      Feb 11 2014: That's why we need our youth. They don't yet know what we can and can't do.
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    Jan 13 2014: Every great technological and sociological change we've seen in the past century was first thought of by a science fiction writers and scientists. They're writing the future.
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    Feb 9 2014: I'm a Kiwi and as i've got older i've found that everyone in my age group has become conservative and afraid or a little meglamanaiacal, Still stuck in the 20th century, still adhering to a system long gone and afraid of taking the next step and going it alone. Afraid that someone too strong will come along and become a dictator like what the South Americans have gone through except what they don't realize is that they have gone through it and are coming out of it. What they see as a 3rd world continent i see modern evolution. I fear we have been left behind.
  • Feb 8 2014: Yes, I think the future is all depending on the youth, so its all on them that how they are moving forward and how they can face the adversities, that's why the youth company should think about it and make sure that what they are doing would be best for family or country. If the youth company have ability to understand the basic things belongs to life and world than I am quite sure the future will be full of happiness and will bring peace on this earth.
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    Feb 7 2014: The youth are certainly writing a part of the future (I agree with others who have brilliantly said that every age group of society contributes). But I do want to focus on your second question inquiring on action. Mentors. Mentors are what the youth needs. Role models that can facilitate the youth in their learning and guide them. Consider the brilliant innovators we have today, such as Michio Kaku. He attributes his development to a mentor who took Kaku under his wing when Kaku was younger. This element is crucial to the progress of society in th aspect of the youth.
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      Feb 11 2014: Mentors are very important. As a mentor, I believe we need to:
      - Teach
      - Inspire
      - Challenge
      I don't mentor so I can do. I mentor so I can see what the kids can do.
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    Jan 31 2014: Nowadays youth is not like Bhagat Singh. Leader is not like the mahatma Gandhi etc. We need to work best and with quality. We need to avoid selfishness and work for development of the Country. Make your work is so great that it left no room for selfishness. Try to do work hard. You can do it. There is nothing to fear from the hard work.
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    Jan 30 2014: Yes , whether it's a good or bad future. Let's wait to see~.
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    Jan 29 2014: The youth of whatever time never have the power to write the future. Real power is held by those few leaders of industry aged mostly over 50. Young people's creativity has always been exploited and used by the powerful for their own ends. This may include cultural and technological change, but very few young people actually retain control of their creative output. We need to encourage more young people to aspire to be entrepreneurs, or at least self employed. Crowd sourcing may help with this.
  • Jan 28 2014: E' stato detto che la maggior forza dell'uomo a tutte le età è che egli si dia un futuro, ma per il giovane oggi è difficoltoso riuscire a prospettarselo e sentire di poterselo conquistare passo passo, ossia darsi un progetto di vita essendo disposti a sacrificarsi per realizzarlo in quanto il futuro non va atteso ma progettato a causa della velocità del cambiamento. Il futuro come promessa, scelta, e non come minaccia, destino.
    Purtroppo sono venute meno le promesse in tutto e i giovani si sentono orfani -in primis della patria potestas-, smarriti e poco protetti. In un'epoca di profezie, dogmi, idoli, utopie. feticci i giovani afasici e scoraggiati, diffidano del futuro descritto da una tale pluralità di voci, anche perchè non si saprebbe quale scegliere. Addirittura temo che sulla vita dei nostri giovani, costitutivamente proiettati in avanti, sia incombente la tragedia della sparizione del pensiero del futuro (e pensare che la figura del futuro è stata da sempre il motore della civiltà occidentale!).
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    Jan 26 2014: They are living the future, bit by bit at time passes. As for the distant future, it can't be set in stone. Because it can always change assuming people have free will. It will do so most likely because by that time people would have all the experience of the period leading to the time we cal distant future.
  • Jan 26 2014: what a grown-up...
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    Jan 22 2014: it depends from country to country, from a liberal democracy to communist, culture, levels of education so on so forth.
    in an evolutionary sense yes youth are contributing to the future in their own pace and ways
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    Jan 22 2014: The youth are meant to be the spearhead of change but neither of them take the time to find out what can be changed. Due to popculture being the main focus in media and on social media, the youth are unaware of the world and their surroundings. Most of them are unaware of who rules their countries. They question nothing and just accept instead of realising that if they want change in their lives and the way things work then the responsibility lies on their shoulders.
    It is sad to note that not many want to question, not many want to take action, not many want to be leaders.
  • Jan 21 2014: Yes they are, like the ones before us. Adults have knowledge but we pass it down, as it is interacted with other knowledge the presence of more ideas come about.
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    Jan 21 2014: I think we all -young people and not-so-young, are united writing the future. The difference between the young and the not-so-young is that they will be the ones to develop and operate the future when future be present. We all are responsible for making a world better, the task is for evereybody from 9 to 99. Who can say that his/her actions do not affect his/her social environment?
    We all sail on the same ship.
  • Jan 20 2014: Yes they are doing their part but the problems we are having todays time is that there are still a fews who have all the Gold and making all the rules, who still have that mind set from the 1840!
  • Jan 20 2014: Many of us are writing the future, some of us, not so much. We have dreams just as you did, many of us, yes have the dream of being famous, but I and many others have the dream of making a difference. My best friend, a football fanatic, always has his football in class, in the market, everywhere! I asked him what he wanted to be, expecting him to say football player, he surprised me, he said he wanted to be one of two things, a U.S. marine or a heart surgeon.
    I asked my other friend, an avid tennis player, she said physical therapist. A soccer player, a special needs teacher. I myself don't know what I'll be, I'm still looking for a dream, a writer? An athlete? Doctor? Teacher? Orphanage owner? Marine? Commercial Diver? Cook? I can be anything, but all I want to do is make a difference.
    In other words, yes, we are writing the future, and trust me when I say, we will leave a legacy marveled at for years.
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      Jan 16 2014: Funny thing is the youth of today are probably going to end up a bit like the adults of today.

      maybe not exactly the same. I'm gen x and not stuck listening to the music of my youth in the same way my parents did.

      but I have a job, a family, and don't put as much effort into how I dress, don't try and project my individuality like teenagers do. There is even a stage when furniture stores become interesting.

      maybe it's having less free time. Maybe it's finding a groove you like. Maybe it's just getting lazy and cynical and realising most of your hero's or protest leaders are narcissistic $%&#.
      Maybe it's realising life, the economy, relationships are not so binary. It's complex and the simple solutions so straight forward to the idealistic ate flawed.

      being in the middle now it's interest to see the youth 80% like I was. And me 50% like my parents and probably increasing.

      suggest the diversity is good, except for the racism and bigotry more entrench ed perhaps in some older folks.

      I can't wait for the supportfor the monarchy to die out.
    • Jan 21 2014: If "the youth" had a vote, there would be one election in which it would make a difference. After that one, "the youth" wouldn't bother to vote. The age group in the USA now least likely to vote is 18-20, which was "the youth" that was given the franchise in the 1970s. They were supposed to revolutionize things. Instead, they showed that they simply didn't care as much as do the middle-aged or elderly.
  • Jan 15 2014: Future is a realtive term, dependent upon a varity of very personal variables. Each of us has our own personal vision and version of the future. There is no "the future" just as there is not "one reality". There are as many futures and realities as there are thinkers.

    "Nothing exists outside the mind for it is the mind that makes it so"- Keith W Henline

    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one"- Einstein
  • Jan 15 2014: Anybody can have an impact. We all do every day.

    But the future, I believe, is already written. Psalm 139
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    Jan 14 2014: Your subject line and your explanation are not the same areas. In the past the history has always been written by the victors ... We cannot write the future ... fortune tellers and astrologists can give you their views ... however ... we are all contributors to the present and that is where it all begins isn't it.

    We call the baby boomers the greatest generation ever .. why. In just two generations we went from horse and buggy to the moon .. from gas lanterns to nuclear power .... so indeed we are writing the future in the education and inventions we provide to the next generation. By providing them the opportunity and tools to succeed.

    We can each do only what is withing our power to change or influence ... collectively we can effect change. It is our responsibility now and in the future to understand the impacts of change. We do this within cultures. One may be ahead of the other but that does not mean it is better. We can learn and share thoughts, ideas, hopes, and pasts to generate change for the better.

    It is my opinion that we are accepting change that is historically proven to be destructive .... we must include in our teaching the values and lessons that the past provides us. Also that we should be aware that not all history is accurate ... we must often check the data to ensure the accuracy of the writings.

    These are simple guidelines that will enhance the opportunity to succeed.

    I wish you well. Bob.