What to do in the face of terror
Lend a hand Make sure the most vulnerable members of your community get the help they need. Support full funding for local, state and federal disaster preparedness and assistance programs.
Tune in to public broadcasting Public and listener-sponsored radio and TV stations provide more accurate information that helps people understand what’s happening, get to safety and access emergency resources. Avoid commercial broadcasts that sensationalize events to attract viewers and boost their profits
Place the event in context How do the casualties compare to premature deaths from car accidents, cancer, lightning, domestic terrorism, gun violence, smoking?
Don’t panic Our brains don’t function well when we’re shocked, scared, angry or grief-stricken. Avoid making important decisions or drawing conclusions about the attack until you’ve had a chance to calm down.
Trust one another Terrorist attacks are designed to make us fear our fellow citizens and residents. Make eye contact. Your community the day after the attack is made up of the same people as the day before. The vast majority of people are decent at heart. Trust them, and our nation will be stronger for it.
Promote a mature response on social media Prepare a set of scripts to use. Make analogies to the Reichstag fire, 9/11, the Blitz,… “Bin Laden won on 9/11 because of what we did to ourselves. Will they win again next time?”
Defend your rights and the rights of others Weak and unpopular leaders sometimes take advantage of emergencies to increase their own power. After the German parliament building was burned down in 1933, Hitler seized dictatorial powers, and German citizens lost their constitutional rights for the next twelve years. In the heat of the moment, democratic rights are easy to take away and very hard to win back.
Question authorities Official accounts of who perpetrated the attack and why are not always true and are sometimes designed to appeal to our worst impulses for a hasty and vengeful response. Sometimes, they present trumped-up evidence as a justification for a military response. Stay informed by reading articles by reporters who ask hard questions and don’t parrot government spokespeople. Think for — and consult with — your higher self.
Don’t overgeneralize People often make the mistake of assuming that, if one member of a race or religion did something bad, that others of that group are untrustworthy. If a white Christian man massacres people in a black Church, that doesn’t mean that that white Christian men are generally violent white supremacists.
Proceed with caution How our nation responds to an attack has serious consequences for our safety, our democratic norms and our standing in the world. We must consider whether our response will invite more terrorist attacks. We must resist the temptation to sacrifice our democratic rights for a false sense of security. And we must remember that the whole world is watching. There is a very real danger that a military over-reaction could ignite a world war.
Contact your members of Congress Congress has the power to craft an appropriate response and prevent the executive branch from acting rashly. You can reach your senators and representative through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. You may wish to send them this page or a copy of the book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century so that they fully appreciate what’s at stake.
Don’t feed the trolls. Focus on the victims. Anyone who has worked with young children knows to focus on the victims of an aggression, not on the aggressor. Focusing on the aggressors, even in a negative way, often gives them the attention they are seeking. Discourage the media to do this, by refusing to click on the (endless) articles about the perpetrators of violence.
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