The strongest impact of terrorism lies not in the event itself, but in the fear-based responses it provokes. The 9/11 event itself destroyed almost 3,000 lives, some of the most famous symbols of commerce, and the sense of security that Americans felt while living within the borders of the United States. The fear-based emotions it generated, including rage, vengeance, worry, and paranoia, caused us to no longer see things holistically, but rather to see everything as separate and apart from ourselves. It is that combination of fear and separatism that caused us to allow the loss of certain things that we would not have so easily given up otherwise.

The following are 4 major areas of loss that go way beyond the obvious.

Loss of Rights

Today, you can be labeled an “enemy combatant,” be arrested without being told why, and held indefinitely without access to a lawyer. Wire tapping, interrogation tactics that stray into the realm of torture, and freezing bank accounts are just some of the things that can be done today to ordinary Americans in the name of defending the country. Some of us remain so fearful, that we actively debate the reading of miranda rights and the right to due process for those accused of crimes around terrorism. We have strayed into the belief that those accused of terrorism are guilty until proven innocent instead of innocent until proven guilty.

After 9/11, several every day Americans were interviewed and stated that they would be willing to lose some rights in exchange for a greater sense of security. Those rights have now been lost, and the pre-9/11 feeling of security has yet to return. The terrorists hate American freedom, and it is Americans who have willingly given up their freedoms because of terrorism. Terrorism successfully provoked a fear-based response that constricted the rights of Americans.

Loss of Common Sense

According to www.iraqbodycount.org, anywhere from 98,585 to 107,954 Iraqi civilians died during the Iraq War. According to www.globalsecurity.org, 4,287 soldiers died in Iraq, with another 30,182 injured. Somehow, many people believe these extraordinarily high death and injury numbers to be justified. This doesn’t include the Afghan numbers.

According to www.costofwar.com, to date, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars cost $1,098,131,930,000 (over $1 Trillion) combined. Yet, there was more debate over the Tiger Woods Affairs than there was over the decisions to go to war. Today, we remain willing to spend vast amount of dollars overseas while hotly debating domestic spending that will help everyday Americans. We never seem to have enough money to help ourselves, yet we always have enough money to help others or to go to war.

We now find ourselves in a pattern where high emotion wins the day over sound logic in almost every area of politics. More and more, our personal lives are falling victim to the same pattern or becoming more intrenched in it. We decide emotionally and justify logically. In an atmosphere where high emotion news and ‘reality’ television are considered king, common sense has unfortunately fallen out of style. Terrorism has successfully nudged Americans to ignore sound common sense and to allow high emotion to direct our decision and actions.

Loss of Respect

It all began with a simple phrase. “If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists.” The logical questions other countries had about weapons of mass destruction and going to war with other sovereign nations didn’t matter. Their thoughts, their ability to do business with America, and their questions were all tossed to the side. What they thought or wanted no longer matter. It was only what we thought and wanted that mattered, and we had no problems with punishing those who didn’t follow suit (remember the anti-French slogans, t-shirts and bumper stickers?).

When a person sees an entity as large as a country operate in that fashion, it becomes a legitimate model for personal behavior for some people. We were able to see that in the overly aggressive political campaigns that followed with its attack ads, misrepresentations, misstatements, half truths, and blatant lies. We were able to see that during the Healthcare forums around the country, with their landmark shout downs, name calling, and shows of complete disrespect. Yet again, we are seeing the manifestations of that loss of respect in every legitimate debate taking place today. These debates are no longer about sharing ideas, learning from one another, truly discussing the legitimate differences that exist, and then crafting the best solution to move forward. They are more about anger, aggression, personal attacks, and the appearance of being right through emotional rather than logical arguments.

Terrorism has successfully taught Americans to treat each other as enemies when they do not share the same opinions. The sharing of ideas in a respectful manner, which was the process that helped to form this country, has been thrown to the wayside, and no one seems to notice.

Loss of Religious Freedom

The founding of America was in large part based on the idea of religious freedom. Immediately after 9/11, muslims who lived along side of everyone else for many years without incident were now the targets of anti-Islamic propaganda, attacks in the media, protest and violence. Though the 9/11 attack was attributed to 19 individuals, the entire religion became vilified. As a comparison, when the Catholic priest scandals were brought to light, along with their subsequent cover ups, the entire religion was not vilified. The individuals that were involved with the scandal or the cover up were appropriately recognized as the problem.

The size and intensity of 9/11, with no living active participants, left people with a need to exact revenge from somewhere else. With no specific individual in site, people took out their aggressions in words and deeds, and on an entire religion. Today, what has been termed the 9/11 mosque as well as several other new mosques around the country are being actively protested.

Terrorists were always quoted as saying that the West was at war with Islam. Through the 9/11 attack’s fear-based responses, the West certainly takes on the appearance of being at war with Islam, though it is not. It is the appearance of a war which is exactly what any terrorist needs to recruit more terrorists. We allowed our emotions to be manipulated to bring about a state of mind that supports what the terrorists were saying all along.

In Summary

The 9/11 attack was horrific. It has changed the history of this country, and indeed the world, forever. The loss of life, property, and commerce was staggering. Unfortunately, those losses continued, and still continue today. In the final analysis, over a hundred thousand people have lost their lives, American freedoms have been willingly given back, and loss of respect and common sense can be seen daily.

It is time for us to rethink where we’ve come from and how we would have liked to appropriately have handled the situation. We also need to take back ownership of our own minds and emotions so that we lead by example through our values, instead of following along mindlessly with no thought to consequences.

Author's Bio: 

James LeGrand is the Author of "Evolve!", an Amazon.com best seller in Religion and Spirituality. He is also the publisher of http://www.SpiritualIndividual.com, a free weekly newsletter that presents solutions to life’s issues through the lens of self-help, wisdom, philosophy and spirituality.  In addition, James LeGrand is a Life Strategist, an Expert Author with SelfGrowth.com & EzineArticles.com, a former Radio Personality, a Fortune 500 Vice President, and a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.