Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 

Preface to the Sixth Edition, Budite Sebi Psihoterapeut

(This is the printer friendly version)

To my Yugoslav readers---- past, present and future:

This will not be a normal preface. These are not normal times. It is with feelings of great sorrow and shame that I sit down in this third week of November, 1999 to write to you---- sorrow for the suffering that you have endured during the 78 days of merciless bombing; shame that it was the government of my country that inflicted this outrage upon you.

To keep the record straight, I must underline the word "government", as the American people by and large are decent people who were ignorant of the true facts of the case and were brainwashed by the media into believing that this was indeed a "humanitarian" enterprise.

Only the savvy surfers of the internet knew better, as the mainstream media in this country are completely controlled by the corporate interests who stand to profit by the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the destruction of your industries and infrastructure, and the control of the pipelines of oil from the Caucasus.

The media failed to report the growing numbers of demonstrators against the war in this country; the much larger protests in Europe— especially Greece and Italy— were downplayed in the press and on television.

We were never told that the Pentagon had ordered 200,000 expeditionary medals plus 7000 Purple Hearts in anticipation of the ground war urged by the governments of the US and UK. (The Monday after John Kennedy's assassination a Pentagon analyst revised the estimate of American deaths in the Vietnam War based on some new information given her. This number correctly predicted the final death figure.) Instead we had story after similar story of the refugees flooding into Macedonia and Kosovo— they made great "visuals" for CNN.

Many Americans still believe that NATO was "victorious" even though the June terms of settlement were essentially the same as what Yugoslavia had conceded prior to March 24. (And they never knew about Appendix B of the Rambouillet agreement.) With the inability of the forensic pathologists to find the "mass graves" in Kosovo and the "genocide of 100,000 Albanians" given as an excuse for the escalation of the bombing, some of my countrymen are coming to question the rectitude of this war against a sovereign nation.
But all too many are still in the grip of denial.

And now, nearly six months after the end of the bombing, the war has gone down into the Black Hole of History for most Americans who are now distracted by East Timor, the presidential contest of 2000, or just getting ready for Christmas. I wonder if they really understood why 10,000 Greek police and 400 FBI men were needed to keep the Clintons safe while traveling on the deserted streets in Athens.

*** *** ***

Honesty and self-awareness require that I admit how gratified my ego is that there are Yugoslavs who are still interested in reading my twenty-year-old words. My identification with Yugoslavia goes back much further than the first edition of this book in 1985. I first visited Yugoslavia in 1958 as a participant in an American Friends Service Committee seminar on "Diplomacy East and West" which was held in Kranj.

Before the start of the seminar I spent ten days traveling in Croatia and Slovenia. This was another period in which I was deeply ashamed of my country— this time at the lynchings and other mistreatment of the black population in the South where I lived at that time. Yugoslavia was beginning its experiment with a worker-managed economy then; it seemed to me like something my country could do well to adopt. I was additionally very impressed with the seeming willingness of the richer republics to make sacrifices to bring up the standard of living of the poorer republics. And I appreciated the friendliness and helpfulness of people for a stranger traveling alone with only a Serbo-Croatian phrasebook and a meager knowledge of Russian grammar.

The University of Ljubljana offered me a job teaching contemporary American literature (although I had no academic credentials in that area.) My Ph.D. husband, sight unseen, was offered a position in physics. I was eager for us to accept. However, when I could not guarantee that we would find a flat with hot running water, he declined. So it took me fourteen years before I could return.

In 1972 I was in charge of the first European Summer Residential Training Program of the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles. Since the choice of venue was up to me, we went to Yugoslavia. And Dubrovnik at festival time!

I didn't feel it was right to take advantage of the lower hotel prices of a "developing country" (a term I dislike) without giving something back. So I essentially blackmailed my colleagues into accepting my suggestion that we offer scholarships to Yugoslav psychologists and psychiatrists. I wrote to the mental health departments of all six republics, but only two responded. Croatia sent two psychiatrists and Serbia sent a psychologist.

That psychologist had poor English skills and kept such a low profile that I wondered what, if anything, he was getting from the ten days. However, he was the only one of the three who asked to return the next year to our training program in Austria. He must have spent the year in intensive English study, as he was able to take a most active part from then on, returning many more years, and arranging for us to hold our training workshops at Lake Bled in 1974 and in Portoroz in 1977 . He became Mr. Gestalt Therapy of Yugoslavia and his name, of course, is Mladen Kostic.

With this background you may understand how pleased I am that my book is being re-published. I hope you will find it useful for you personally, even in these very difficult times. My greatest hope for the world is that all of us become more self-aware, more responsible, and more willing to unite and work together to correct the world's injustices.

How many of you have heard the story of the Hundredth Monkey?
Popularized by the anti-nuclear movement in the 80s, it is a well-meaning distortion of the observation of some animal behavior scientists on the Japanese island of Koshima in the 1950s. In order to identify the rhesus monkeys they were observing, the scientists would drop sweet potatoes into the sand and then categorize the monkeys as they swung out of the trees to get the food. Many of the monkeys disdained the potatoes, not liking the grit with which they were encrusted, but one enterprising young female got the bright idea to wash the sand off her potatoes before eating them. Soon her playmates were imitating her and washing their potatoes. A few mothers copied their children's behavior, but the older generation basically resisted the innovation. The children, however, taught the behavior to their children, so that after a time it was only monkeys who were born before 1950 that were still eating gritty potatoes.

This much is true.

The rest of the story is not and thus gave the skeptics an opportunity to debunk the entire investigation. Lyall Watson and Ken Keyes, Jr. seized on the Koshima research and propagated the notion that after a critical mass— the hypothetical "Hundredth Monkey"— had been reached, monkeys on other islands spontaneously began washing their yams. They postulated that a sort of "morphic resonance"— Rupert Sheldrake's term— was in operation.

However the first (and true) part of the story provides a powerful model of how change can occur. One monkey's behavior had, in one generation, changed the behavior of a significant segment of the population. Each of us has the opportunity by our actions and our words to be a model, to influence the thinking and behavior of any number of people who then in turn will influence additional groups.

As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

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