September 14, 2001
In the aftermath of a national tragedy you may be experiencing a flood of emotions. It’s important that you take the time to assess your own feelings and your own reactions to the events of September 11th and beyond. Listed below are a few key areas that you may want to think about.
Your Sense of Safety
One of the after effects of a terrorist attack is a feeling that you are no longer safe. In fact, this is one of the terrorists’ goals. It is perfectly natural to feel that your safety is no longer secure. However, it’s important that you separate that emotional anxiety from your real situation. Obviously, Tuesday’s events have shown all of us that no part of the world is entirely secure. Yet, the likelihood that you will be harmed in a terrorist attack remains very low. It’s okay to feel some sense of anxiety and fear. If you feel that fear becoming overwhelming, though, and if you feel that anxiety is keeping you from living your life in a normal manner, then you should seek help from one of the professionals available on campus.
Understanding Cultural Differences
America, and indeed your campus, is comprised of a mosaic of different cultures, peoples and religions. One of the unfortunate results of this terrorist attack is a misunderstanding regarding who is responsible. In fact, at the time this was written, it was unclear exactly who was responsible. It’s important that you not jump to conclusions about those members of your community who might be from a certain geographic region. Likewise, keep in mind that all those who follow the Muslim faith are not dangerous people. In fact, the Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion in the world and is comprised of millions of peaceful people. During times when America feels threatened, there is a tendency to lash out at those who seem different. Yet, there is no such thing as a 93real American94 and you will find that the vast majority of those in your community share your shock and horror at these events, no matter what their cultural or religious background is. Don’t blame the innocent as you try to make sense of this tragedy. That constitutes a tragedy of a whole other kind.
Managing Your Emotions
You may be feeling extraordinary anger or perhaps immense sadness. It is okay to experience waves of emotion. In fact, it is quite normal. However, you must channel those emotions into a positive response in order to keep yourself well. You may feel inspired to attend memorial services or, perhaps, a demonstration. These are good ways to channel your emotions. Be aware, however, that it can become easy for your emotions to get Out of control, especially if you become involved in a “mob mentality” where people’s anger and hate can be contagious. Work with campus officials and student leaders to find appropriate, positive and productive ways to express your emotions. Some suggestions: religious services, candlelight vigils, peaceful gatherings and even quiet reflection are all appropriate. Other positive activities might include blood donations, raising funds for disaster relief organizations, educating yourself about terrorism and pursuing discussions with others about these tragic events. If you feel you emotions are out of control and might lead you to do something drastic, you should speak with a campus professional right away. Managing your emotions in positive ways now instead of tucking them away is one of the best possible things you can do for your self.
Show a Sense of Support and Solidarity
The terrorist attacks happened in a short period of time but the effects will last a long, long time. There will be an extended period of anger and healing. Additionally, there will likely be military and international political reactions. Everyone needs to prepare themselves for a long-term period of healing, reaction and action by our country. You can help by being supportive of the country, your elected officials and those who are reacting to this tragedy. One person can make a difference by showing their solidarity and support. Let that person be you.
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