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Bombings by South Africa

May 28, 1986

I was struck by the paradoxical nature of human actions while reading your editorial (May 21),"Incredible," concerning South Africa's raids into neighboring countries. South Africa was vigorously condemned by the United States. In response, President Pieter Botha stated he was only doing what we did in Libya. How is it we each see a similar situation from a different perspective?

Several years ago Psychology Today magazine published the results of a questionnaire asking people which superpower, the United States or the Soviet Union, was involved in each of 10 historic events. The average score was the same result as would be obtained by flipping a coin to get the answer.

We could not tell who was the bad guy and who was the good guy. The survey showed that people project their "dark side" onto the other--and the other then becomes the enemy. We need an enemy to justify our violent actions.

Modern psychology has given us a clue to why we have the different perspectives, and how we can look at each other without posing an enemy. With that as a start, we can learn to work together--to come to an objective view enabling a resolution in the best interests of all parties. We must start functioning in this way or the escalation in violence will soon destroy us all.

JACK WEIL

Woodland Hills

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