— 20 February 2003 —

A friend forwarded this via

A friend forwarded this via email today.� Relating to usability, I’d file this under schema.


(Adapted from a Jan/Feb 2003 Utne article by Lawrence LeShan, which in turn was adapted from his book “The Psychology of War: Comprehending Its Mystique and Its Madness”)

There are startling differences in the ways we perceive reality during wartime compared to peacetime.

PEACETIME: Good and Evil have many shades of gray.� Many groups with different ideas and opinions are legitimate.
WARTIME: Good and Evil are reduced to Us and Them.� There are no innocent bystanders; there are only those for or those against us.� Crucial issues are divided into black and white, and opinions about them are either right or wrong.

PEACETIME: Now is pretty much like other times.
WARTIME: Now is different from all other times.� Everything hangs in the balance; whoever wins now wins forever.� It is the time of the final battle between good and evil.

PEACETIME: The great forces of nature, such as God or human evolution, are not often evoked in our disputes.
WARTIME: “God is on Our Side,” “History will absolve us,” and other such slogans indicate our belief that the great cosmic forces are with us.

PEACETIME: When this present period is over, things will go on much as they have in the past.
WARTIME: Everything will be vastly different after the war.� Things will be better if we win and terribly worse if we lose.� Winning or losing will change the meaning of the past and the shape of the future.

PEACETIME: There are many problems to be solved and their relative importance varies from day to day.� Life is complex.
WARTIME: There is only one major problem to be solved.� All others are secondary.� Life has one major focus.

PEACETIME: All people act from pretty much the same motives.
WARTIME: THEY act from a wish for power.� WE act from self-defense, benevolence, and reasons of common decency and morality.

PEACETIME: Problems start on different levels–economic, political, or personal–and must be dealt with on those levels.

WARTIME: The real problem started with an act of will by the enemy and can only be solved by breaking his will or by making him helpless to act on it.

PEACETIME: We are concerned with what causes the problems we’re trying to solve.
WARTIME: We are not concerned with causes, only with outcomes.

PEACETIME: We can talk to those who disagree with us.
WARTIME: Since the enemy is evil, he naturally lies.� Communication is not possible.� Only force can settle the issue.� WE tell the truth (news, education).� THEY lie (propaganda).

PEACETIME: All people are fundamentally the same.
WARTIME: The same actions are “good” when we do them and “evil” when the enemy does them.� There is doubt that “we” and “they” really belong to the same species.

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