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Paris — Another Perspective on Healing

Updated on November 19, 2015

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.


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    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      I have noticed the tactic of offering support to victims while refraining from uttering any opinions about the terrorists - leaving them to those who are task to handle them. But geez, it is hard for me to keep my true thoughts to myself. Anyway, I like this perspective. Keep going!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 2 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Hi Martie: It is important to understand how our reaction plays a role in terrorist attacks. There are studies out that show that terror groups use social media to gauge the effectiveness of their actions. People like you and me take to facebook and start proclaiming our anger. To the terrorist, that's affirmative action that their "event" is doing well. They can see first hand how far and wide their terrible act has gone. In the case of Paris... it's gone round the world. How we learn from that and how we behave ourselves is important. Knowing that terrorists use social media, for example, allows us to react differently and without affirming their goals. Send peace and love and offer support. What that does is it gives to the victims without giving to the terrorist and that is something we all have the power to do.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Oh dear, tell those terrorists and wanna-be-terrorists that they don't have to hate, and they will justify their hatred with a thousand bad memories and shouts of revenge.

      All our negative emotions - anger, bitterness, hatred, revenge, etc - are rooted in fear. A fear to lose our power, money, position, land, home, beloveds, belongings, etc, and particularly our life. In terrorists and other blood-thirsty criminals the negative emotions had grown so strong they can no longer feel and acknowledge the source of it all: fear.

      Life is a jungle. If we don't get killed by another human, or animal, we will be killed by a plant or a micro organism like a virus or bacteria. I think if all people can manage to accept this, fear will no longer become a primary emotion and humus for other negative emotions.

      But then, what will we be? Zombies?

      It is so difficult for normal people to wrap their mind over the behavior of a terrorist, or over the behavior of any heartless killer. We fear what we can't comprehend.

      Let's face it - with sadness and regret - peace is only to be found in the realm of those who are no longer alive.

      Excellent take on terrorism!