Resilience and Restraint ; Strength of Character Needed after Tuesday's Plane Attacks

Article excerpt

Terrorists who organized the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon deserve to be punished. And those who plot such hateful acts against Americans need to be stopped.

But in the coming days and weeks, Americans need to focus on one another and, in practical ways, help those touched by this national tragedy.

Now is the time for strength of character - especially restraint, resilience, and compassion - not fear, panic, or trauma. The mental aftereffects of this event should be the nation's top priority - to show that self-destructive acts of evil need not triumph.

Help children first

First of all, the nation's children who have seen these events on TV must be assured that they are safe, that such tragedies are not at all common and are, in fact, meant to cause fear. Schools can organize special events and offer personal counseling - as many schools have done after shootings - to provide information and talk through fears.

Children also need to know the details of how such a tragedy can happen, and how government officials have successfully prevented terrorist attacks in the past and have captured many terrorists. In fact, of 423 international terrorist incidents documented by the State Department in 2000, only 17 involved American citizens or businesses.

Information centers and media role

Second, government officials in New York and Washington need to set up special information centers to help all those seeking information about family members or friends who might have been affected.

In tragedies such as these, the desire for information is immense. While the media groups play their role, government leaders need to show compassion for the concerns of those who fear they knew someone killed or harmed.

Related to that, the media official need to look hard at their coverage and realize they have a role to play in influencing how Americans cope with this tragedy. Media should not seek high ratings or more circulation by focusing on trauma and death. …