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 Survival Perspectives: From Shock Value to Crisis 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Mind Over Matter by . View all columns in series
Nothing has more immediate shock value than an unexpected crisis.

According to ABC News, "A recent poll shows seven out of ten Americans have felt depressed since the attacks."

For peace loving people, recent acts of terrorism at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon herald the shocking realization of an ongoing crisis seemingly beyond our control.

The real threat of terrorism acutely raises the bar on what affects many of us. In the short run, we develop a precarious perspective that resets our priorities. Survival takes precedence over those typical day to day challenges that do not seem so important after all.

We huddle closer, sing the national anthem and redefine our concept of heroes. We vow to travel less, spend more time with our children, and devote ourselves to philanthropy. We take a deep breath, sigh, and yearn for what used to be. We appreciate what we have and we pray that the worst is over.

Then we awaken tomorrow and discover it isn't.

And the threat of terrorism ensues. Yet terrorism isn't our greatest threat.

As layoffs mount and air travel fails to rebound, the reality of economic devastation hits home. A calamitous chain reaction impacts hotels, restaurants, entertainment, automobile, clothing and luxury item sales. Unemployment progressively rises, spending predictably declines and the financial viability of national and world markets falls into jeopardy as every sector begins to lose ground.

Experts describe our economic state as a reflection of an anxiety phase. They say time helps to repair such wounds, and that people will progressively reestablish normalcy in their lives. They have in the past.

Yet the growing realization that our security is at stake seems to be preventing the dust from settling.

Perhaps it's time to decide whether or not the terrorists created this crisis. Or are we responsible for a more far-reaching crisis that challenges the ultimate viability of our nation and the world? Have we allowed ourselves to bring about our own economic demise as the terrorists expected we would?

Or are we willing to resume our activities, rebuild our economy and ultimately prove that terrorism is impotent?

The real issue centers on what’s holding us back.

Fear is certainly a critical and understandable factor. We've learned from our patients facing cancer that it can also serve as a formidable obstacle to healing. Advancing beyond the confining walls of fear seems to be a critical element in the journey toward regaining the gift of a healthy life.

Every journey begins with a first step.

Yet while we're contemplating that initial step and hoping to gradually redevelop a sense of comfort that will enable us to resume our typical activities, the fate of our nation remains in jeopardy.

Perhaps it's time to ask ourselves some important questions. Why are we not traveling? Are we really safer at home? Do we really believe our nation is immune from a biological or chemical threat?

Is it logical to expect a governmental bailout to save our economy?

Only we the American people can revitalize an economy dependent to a great extent on an airline industry that has enabled us to visit friends and loved-ones, enjoy vacations and do business nationally and globally. Our immediate actions can prevent the resultant demise of the hotel, entertainment and automobile industries. We can avert layoffs, unemployment and the trickle down effect that is already threatening our economy.

It is impossible to save ourselves when we abandon the good of our nation. Savings will not preserve our freedom, our independence or our economy. History has already taught us that lesson.

President Bush has asked us to join together and reaffirm confidence in our nation's transportation system which is now safer than it ever has been in the history of America. It’s time to demonstrate our support for the costly efforts our government is mounting to ensure our safety.

The terrorists have inserted a sword deep into the heart of consumer confidence. To begin healing we must trust that our nation is capable of providing the security we need to preserve the freedom and liberty of every man woman and child in America.

Our immediate actions have the potential to put more than 100,000 recently unemployed airline workers back on the job along with countless others who need employment in order to survive. These are our neighbors, our friends and the people who have enabled us to enjoy our lives.

We must remain active, productive and viable as a nation that serves as a beacon of bravery, confidence and unity for the rest of the world. Let us demonstrate our resolve to prevent terrorism from taking a long-term toll that will become progressively more difficult to reverse as time without action ensues.

Let us vow not to allow shock value to transform itself into longstanding crisis. The choice is now ours. The future of America rests in each of our hands - Mind Over Matter!

©2001 Barry Bittman, MD all rights reserved

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 About The Author
Barry Bittman, MD is a neurologist, author, international speaker, award-winning producer/director and inventor. As CEO and Medical Director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, a......moreBarry Bittman MD
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