Ever Lasting Scar Of Terrorism
September 23, 2010, 9:59 am
Even after reaching the ninth anniversary of the dreadful attack on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, about two weeks back, the horror of the event is still fresh. It still haunts those who lost loved ones in the tragedy, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. It still haunts those who witnessed the tragedy secondhand. Overall, the scar made by this unjustifiable and irreparable loss of human lives is going to remain in the hearts of the generations to follow.
The event, besides underscoring the fact that no place in the world is appreciably safe from terrorist attacks, also revealed the vulnerability of innocent civilians, whose lives were lost right under the very noses of U.S. authorities. The event proved false the pre-9/11 claim of "tight security" and a "well determined plot" to fight against terrorism, and led to increased security and optimum alert levels.
The terrorists may feel a sense of "accomplishment" in this taking of innocent lives, but it has really only made clearer their barbarism and inhuman instincts. No wonder it only helped to push them into the abyss of hatred rather than to earn sympathy for their "bravery."
When we talk about the loss caused by the event, it is irreparable in terms of the human lives lost and it could also be irreparable in terms of the deteriorated mental condition of the relatives and loved ones of the victims in terms of innocence lost. Nor can we underestimate the stress felt by those who happened to witness the tragedy and pain of the event up close with their own eyes.
There are not only the witnesses who experienced it live, but also the people the world over who experienced the pain of that horrific event through television, the Internet, and the publication of various photographs and writings describing the horror and tragedy of that day. The site of the World Trade Center, which suddenly turned into rubble within a few shocking minutes, is still under reconstruction. The people still living and working in the area still find it difficult to hide their anxiety.
And then there are the children. The viciousness of the attack has obviously left a deep scar in their minds. This has been verified by the BBC's Stephen Evans, who has scrutinized the psychological distress felt by children as a result of 9/11. Let alone the outstanding grief and psychological trauma of those children who lost parents and relatives in the attack.
As there were a number of schools near ground zero, many children witnessed the terror from their windows. The children saw the sudden destruction of the buildings, people crying for help, victims jumping and falling helplessly from the tall buildings, and graphic pictures of the dying and injured. Such pictures of grief and tragedy still linger and bother them deep inside, even if they look normal and sturdy from outside.
The stress of the experience could be detrimental to their personality development. The research done by Evans alone suggests that the event has dramatically diminished children's social as well as educational and learning capabilities. Getting over of the experience is somewhat impossible for the young and vulnerable age groups, according to the research conducted by Evans.
The children who witnessed the horrible events and who were bereft of their loved ones and parents could carry that stress and psychological disturbance for the rest of their lives. A study obtained by Dr. Robin Goodman, who closely examined the mindset of children who happened to be spectators to the event, suggests that the children frequently experience nightmares and that many of them also worry that something awful will happen to their parents.
The study also has suggested that some children inadvertently correlate the harmless and ordinary events of their everyday lives with the spiteful events they experienced on and after 9/11. To help children recuperate their normalcy they should be gradually exposed to reality, contrasting the cataclysmic past event with the normal events of the present, the study suggests. Though it is not that easy to get back their normal lives with their psychological well-being intact, it can be done with systematic guidance and counseling so that the children can reabsorb themselves with the joy and progress of their lives.
Though nine years have passed, some of the people who observed the incident or who lost their loved ones still feel like the event occurred only yesterday. For them, anniversaries of the event are quite non-relevant. In general, New Yorkers have somehow managed to discard their grief.
A professor of psychology at Columbia University in New York suggested that for New Yorkers there were very clear indicators that the danger had passed. He said, "There was a sense of 'ok, this is over, it's done with, and we can go back to normal.'" New Yorkers, of course, experienced the atrocity more closely than anyone else did. They have amazing resilience and are prepared to memorialize those who were lost with a positive vigor.