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November 19, 2015
by Mary Horn, Psy.D.

A Time to Stand Together and Stay Empowered: Our Own Fight Against Terrorism

November 19, 2015 11:08 by Mary Horn, Psy.D.

The recent terrorist attacks on Paris once again remind us that terrorism continues to be an unpredictable threat to the peaceful lifestyle that most countries want to have. It is in fact human nature to become anxious when we face things we can not control or prevent. Often in the aftermath of horrific, senseless events, people have a difficult time not panicking. Even for people who are far away from where the attacks occurred, the feelings about it can be very powerful.These types of incidents remind us all of our vulnerabilities as human beings. Knowledge is a powerful tool, so understanding what terrorism is and how to keep living without being stifled by fear could be helpful.

What Terrorism Is

The concept behind terrorism is to use the torturing or killing of people in order to create a psychological weapon that will subordinate and defeat the perceived enemy. Terrorists want to instill fear by not just traumatizing or killing the people directly involved, but by instilling fear in the people who witness or hear about it. The goal of terrorism is to make everyone fear that they are a target. Terrorists want to make us believe that they are powerful and worthy of our attention. By frightening people, hurting people, raising doubts and fears, making it onto the world news, terrorists appear to believe that they become powerful.
While they do get our attention, powerful they are not…They become terrorists because they lack the ideas and policies that the rest of the world would wish to embrace (Leahy, 2015). They are usually ardent extremists who represent a small group of people who want to be a voice, but have no ability to force their ideas and policies on the world or people who differ from them. While they may express grievances or protest something they think is very important, the very acts of terrorism that they use to gain popularity undermine their efforts.

They confuse attention on the news or media as popularity, while it is merely disgust and anger from the larger masses who do not share their views. Sadly, terrorist organizations recruit vulnerable people who want to be heroic in some way by joining a cause. Often, these vulnerable people fail to see that the cause is so extreme that they will likely end up dead. Even worse, they often know they will die, such as suicide bombers, however, they believe it is for the cause so it is okay. Once they are gone, they are not heroes, they are not even remembered, nor is the life they lived honored. Instead we honor and mourn for the victims and their loved ones.

Many terrorists today say they kill in the name of their religion. They fail to see the irony of committing horrific acts in what is supposed to represent God or good. One ISIS fighter declared that he swears to God they will strike America in Washington (Mullen, 2015). Following horrific acts of terrorism, most people remember the act and who was lost, not the terrorist as an individual. Their leader or organization may get some attention, but a suicide bomber is named as such, and that is all. For the rest of the world, the pathetic acts of terrorism become a reason for us to pull together for a greater good.

Standing Together to Win the Battle on Terrorism

Terrorists are driven by fear and use it to thrive. They use fear as a political and psychological weapon to try to scare people into submission. They want to convince others how they want the world to function. While we let our leaders and military do their job to protect our respective countries, what we need to do is stand together, stand strong, and protect our freedom.Though we might feel anxious at times, one way to alleviate that feeling is to stay present in the moment we are in. Keep on, keeping on as they say. Know that by standing strong and standing together we can and will overcome the fear that terrorists kill themselves to create in us. Trust that good will prevail.

For us in the United States, we know that we are "one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all" (Pledge of Allegiance). Staying true to the principals that our country is built on, is in fact the best way to defeat the terrorists.


Leahy, R. (2015). How to Think About Terrorism. Psychology Today. terrorism

Mullen, J. & Haddad, M. (2015). "France is at War," President Francois Hollande says after Paris Attacks. CNN.Com

About the Author

Dr. Mary Horn Dr. Mary Horn, Psy.D.

Choosing to enter therapy can be difficult, so I will walk beside you on this journey. Together we find new endings for old beginnings. No one should have to walk the road of transformation alone. I try to provide a safe, neutral environment, so change can happen..

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