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Jan 13, 2021



Tom Bell’s sister took her life in 1991, and the event completely changed his life. It wasn’t until ten years later that Tom found out the cause of her suicide: the predation of a worker in her mental institution and the subsequent forced abortion of her child. When he took the case to authorities, they turned a blind eye, revealing to Tom the harsh reality of the systems in place. As a result, he founded HIPPS (Honesty & Integrity in Public Services), an organization dedicated to eliminating bureaucracy and replacing it with a recognition of people’s humanity. It does this by creating partnerships between public, private, and voluntary sectors to create a better future together. Tom also wrote a book about his experience, entitled Lions, Liars, Donkeys, and Penguins: The Killing of Alison.


Today Tom joins me to talk about his experience. He shares his reflections on materialism, acceptance of the problems in society, righteous anger, the need for the punk mentality, the toll of suicide on survivors, what’s worth fighting for, and facing the past. He talks about the effects his experience has had on him and his recognition of the problems with the status quo. He speaks about alternatives to bureaucracy and the need to take action, and finishes with a plea for honesty and openness about mistakes from public services.


“The most destructive thing is to leave things the way they are.”


“All we want is improvement.”



This week on The Virtual Campfire Podcast:


  • You are what you do
  • The role of anger
  • Optimism
  • The need for rebels in the workplace
  • The punk mentality
  • Society as a work in progress“
  • The toll of suicide on survivors
  • What is worth fighting for
  • Facing the past
  • The notion of tolerance and forgiveness
  • Anger vs. revenge
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Bureaucracy as dehumanizing



Resources Mentioned:

Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese

The Garden of Love by William Blake

The poetry of William Blake


Connect with Tom


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