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CULTURE Change is at hand, counselors predict



Published: Wed, September 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Acceptance will be harder than after other tragedies because life will change for everybody, one counselor said.

By ROGER G. SMITH

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The world you woke up to today is a different place than it was when you got up Tuesday morning.

The freedom of movement you took for granted will be gone. And you may not even mind. Your views on everything from the military to taxes will change, too.

Undoubtedly, society will come together -- despite a seriously rattled sense of security -- and manage to get past Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

But area sociologists, psychologists and counselors agree that the attacks will become an event that changes Americans.

"Society is significantly altered," said Jerry M. Lewis, professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State University. "I grieve for my grandson, who is 21/2. He's going to live in a much more closed society than I lived in [Tuesday]."

Lasting effects: The image of America as a free society took a hit when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, said Lewis, a witness to the Kent State shootings who has researched and written about the impact of the killings in the years since.

He has no doubt that society will become permanently more restrictive.

Nonetheless, we live in an organized society that will move on eventually, Lewis said. He points to Pearl Harbor. Sixty years later the U.S. and Japan are close partners.

In the shorter term, the attacks will serve to draw Americans closer together, said Jeffrey Hahn, a sociology professor at Mount Union College.

Group experience increases solidarity, he said, pointing to Pearl Harbor. That may mean hugging your kids a little tighter or uniting behind friends or family who are affected by the violence or knows somebody who is, Hahn said.

"My guess is there will be a tremendous pulling together," he said.

Tighter security: Longer term, society likely will be more willing to put up with hassles that come with heightened security, Hahn said, such as more electronic surveillance of public places. To date, people have resisted tough security measures and the government has hesitated to use them.

People also now will be more likely to support spending money on protecting the nation, take more pride in the military and change attitudes about foreign policy, he said.

The attacks are such an affront to Americans that they won't fade, Hahn said.

"This is just too big," he said. "It was such a massive scale, civilian targets ... on the ground, in the aircraft. It's a whole other story to attack civilians."

Fear: The possibility that terrorist attacks could continue is the most frightening thought for many people, said Dr. Tamara Daily, a social psychology professor at Mount Union.

World conflicts were at a distance before, but not anymore. Safety measures already taken at home have proven to be inadequate, which will reopen peoples' sense of vulnerability, she said.

"We thought we were safe already. That's profoundly disturbing," Daily said. "Terrorists do that. That's why they're terrorists."

The series of violent acts are beyond most peoples' comprehension, said Alvin W. Beynon, president and chief executive officer of Valley Counseling Services in Warren. People deal with it by coming together, such as in prayer services in churches, he said.

"We don't have a way to struggle with things this big. People will be foundering for a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to feel," he said. "We're not going to feel safe. It's going to shake us to the foundation for a while."

Experiencing the attacks in the modern age of communication -- watching live as a plane crashed into the building -- creates what Beynon calls millions of secondary victims. Just because you weren't in New York or Washington doesn't mean your attitudes won't change, he said.




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