February 12, 2007

SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001

The terrorist attacks on America that occurred on 9/11 left us shocked, confused, angry, hurt, afraid and sad. We as a nation share these feelings. None of us are alone. We witnessed the tragic loss of human life and billions of dollars worth of property damage. Terrorism profoundly affects all of us.

Some of us may have lost some sleep. Some are afraid to fly in an airplane again. The economy has taken a hit. Others grieve the loss of a loved one who may have been one of the targets of the terrorists. Some polls suggest that 7 out of 10 people are depressed. The attacks caught us by surprise, but now we need to get back up. Acts of terrorism are supposed to provoke emotional pain. It is supposed to hurt. It is a very deep kind of hurt that demands we stand up to rekindle our patriotism and fight for our freedoms. We need to take care of ourselves as a nation and as individuals. What can we do so that we do not become paralyzed by our emotions? What can we do to boost our spirits? Tough times require patience, resiliency and the voice of reason.

President Bush asks for us to be "patient" as we look for solutions. It is difficult for anyone to be "patient." The latin root to the word, "patient", means "to suffer." "Grant me patience, God, but please hurry." The nation's response to the terrorist attacks needs to be deliberate and thoughtful. That requires time. This is no time for "instant gratification." This is not a movie with a two hour beginning, middle and end. Our world has dramatically changed as a result of what happened on September 11th. We must accept this fact.

To be resilient means that we as a nation and as individuals must recover from the emotional shock initiated by terrorist activity. The psychological warriors, a.k.a. "terrorists", subjected this country to deep levels of distress. That was their goal. What can we do to encourage resiliency in ourselves and in our nation?

The first step is to acknowledge the critical incident (terrorist attacks) and its emotional impact on us. Are there any physical symptoms like sleep disturbance, headaches, or nausea? How have the events of 9/11 affected our ability to think? Are we having difficulty with problem solving, confusion, slowed thinking or making decisions? Emotionally, how deep does our fear extend? How angry are we? How much grief and sadness do we have and how is it affecting our ability to function?

The next step is to talk. Talk is the best medicine. Talking helps us to process information and our feelings. Sometimes loved ones and caring friends can provide all the emotional support we need. Our children may be the most vulnerable. Parents, please be available to talk with your children, who may feel confused about these international events. Sometimes it is important to seek professional assistance. It may help to talk to a professional counselor. It is essential to come to terms with the feelings we are having. Symptoms normally subside and disappear in time. Talking about our feelings does not imply weakness or craziness. It is a sign of maturity and part of a plan for healing.

There is no voice of reason that explains why the terrorists attacked America and killed thousands of innocent people. It is "cock and bull" to suggest that the attacks occurred because someone's "higher power" wanted to punish America. No Deity dictates murder and chaos. Someone with a complicated delusional system might believe that irrational way of thinking. My God teaches love, passive resistance and respect for life. This is why I struggle with the concept of revenge. However, justice is different than revenge and so I trust my leaders to deal with that part of the equation. We as a nation need to be reasonable in learning how to cope with this tragedy. The terrorists' false beliefs (delusions) about their Deity do not represent the beliefs of others who share the same faith.

There is a difference between healthy religious feeling and religiosity.

Acts of terrorism encourage us to view the nature of man as basically evil. Yes, parts of our world are evil. However, there are the good parts, too. Let us continue as a nation, one by one, to focus on the good part of our human nature. Let us continue to use our gifts to support the needs of others during this time of tragedy. This may mean praying. It could mean donating our money or time to people who need it the most. Talking to others who feel the need to talk could be the answer.

It is unfortunate that it sometimes takes a tragedy to pull us together as a nation. It is fortunate that none of us are alone and that we have each other. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. What can we do today to be of help?

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor

You're looking dapper wearing your Stooltime Counseling ball cap, Gary! Thanks for your support.

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