America Reacts to Terrorism

By Hannah Wavrek

The Crown (Wilmete, Illinois)

Terrorism has become more and more prevalent in world.  It has evolved into informal acts of war that are often hard to track and almost impossible to stop.  Because of the recent terrorist actions around the world,especially in Paris and Mali, people have reacted in many different ways, including shock, sadness,and horror. Reactions tend to range from a prevailing fear to one of united nationalism or patriotism.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nationalism as “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country. Often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries.” This sense of loyalty and pride is seen in a majority of Americans in light of the influx of terrorist attacks.

However, a keen sense of nationalism can quickly escalate into feelings of superiority with a strong sense of an “us versus them” mentality. The United States is a super-power and our strength can also be our weakness as we believe we are infallible and our arrogant pride tends to make us think anyone who isn’t an American is a terrorist.

I believe that viewing terrorists as “them” is invalid because of the premise of America fundamentally stands for. We all know that America is a melting pot of many people from around the world who came to this country for a better life. So, why do we classify those who harm us as “others.” Isn’t the United States almost entirely made up of others?

Isn’t the United States a “them” to another country. When we view different cultures, races, and religions as different from us, it leads to profiling and assumptions that do not help anyone.

It is important to channel these feelings of nationalism into positive things that can be helpful.  Otherwise, they can lead to rash decisions or actions that could be racist or hateful.

Instead,  the United States must use its nationalism to come together as an entire people. We must work together to communicate and problem-solve specific threats. We must unite and stand behind our President. It is tragic times like these that brings our country together to make our nation a true melting pot, which, by the way, should be the point of nationalism.

On the other side of our patriotism is a very common response to terrorism: fear.

Fear, Merriam-Webster defines as a feeling “to expect or worry about something bad or unpleasant.”  This fear only gets worse and expands when related to the media and other responses to terrorism.

Unfortunately, fear is a common repercussion of terrorist acts causing people to feel threatened and worry for their safety and even their lives.
This stems from the helplessness many Americans feel when it comes to stopping terrorism.  People feel powerless and helpless and feel like nothing can be done to stop another tragic terrorist act from occuring again. People rationalize that their only hope is to avoid precarious situations.

Because of this, many people live in fear, meaning, they are afraid to live their normal life or perform normal, ordinary everyday tasks. Instead, they want to close their door and never step outside.

It’s natural to be scared, but crucial for all of us to go about our normal lives.  When we succumb to fear, we are letting the terrorists win in their warped perception that we have conformed and are fearful to live our lives.

It is important to make sure that the responses each of have to terrorism are expressed in the right way.  Whether it is being a team player while feeling a healthy sense of nationalism or facing terrorism by our refusal to live in fear, we need to stand together as a country and stop the power underlying terrorism.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

Leave a Reply