Paris — Another Perspective on Healing
Paris — A World in Mourning
This latest attack — Paris — is yet another tragedy that causes cries of outrage over the senseless loss of life. How does living in a world where violence becomes more commonplace affect us mentally? To begin to answer that question we need to know who "us" is. Are we Americans, Christians? Muslims, people of color, whites, or just people? One could also ask are we individuals, communities, nations? Who are we?
Terrorism — et. al
The word terrorism implies a dreadful and frightening experience that we have no chance of preventing — something that scares us deeply. There are many definitions of terrorism [3.] However you define it, there is an immediate reaction to such an event and a long-term reaction. The immediate reaction is fight-or-flight — survival. The long-term reaction includes many emotions — fear, hate, trepidation, worry, anger, pain, and many others. Terrorism is an equation of sorts. It is made up of those who suffer the results, and those who implement the act. What emotions do those who implement the act feel — satisfaction, glee, vengeance, anger, loss, smugness, encouragement and many other emotions.
Individuals and Mental Health
Communities, nations, continents are all populated with individuals. Terrorism affects us as a people and as individuals. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an individual condition. PTSD continues to bring a person back to a time of trauma. Terrorism does that. It changes people's minds by introducing a traumatic event that changes the quality of life that person experiences. According to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, 3.6 percent of Americans suffer from PTSD at any one time[1.] PTSD is just one affliction that terrorism brings. Anxiety, stress, worry, and fear are other feelings that appear. We become anxious — Should I ride the subway? We carry stress — what happens if XYZ occurs? We worry — will I be able to reach my kids in the event of an emergency? We fear people who are not like us, who look different, who speak other languages, who come from other countries, and who may be a terrorist and that is the basis of hate.
Hatred and Social Its Effect
Terrorism is an act of hatred [2.] Terrorists see their targets as bad people, immoral, and dangerous according to the Open Criminology Journal [2.] Hate is also a series of feelings that range from mild to severe. Those feelings affect our mental health. Following an act of terrorism stress over the incident become stronger emotions where people begin to feel like they are a victim [2.] Stress advanced to anger and revenge that then give way to a rationalization that it is okay to hurt others.
In the case of Paris, the anger of this terrorist act pushes us to believe that all Muslims are bad, immoral and dangerous. Are they? No. Our mind perceives them as all being dangerous because we cannot recognize who among them are terrorist therefore they are all dangerous.
What are the components of social hate? Are they not ignorance, fear, and distrust? Are we not ignorant of other cultures? Do we not fear people who are different? Do we not distrust things with which are not familiar? Christians versus Muslims, versus Islam versus Hindu, versus Judea or Israel and Palestine, Hitler and the Jews, ISIS and the world — all situations made up of ignorance, fear, and distrust.
We Don't Have to Hate
Terrorist acts affect our mental health. Those effects are deadly. We just witnessed how deadly those actions are in Paris. Terrorism happens all over the world. We don't have to hate. We can learn. Learning displaces ignorance, lessens fear, and removes distrust. We do not have to hate.