DENTIST IN A BULLET PROOF VEST STANDS SENTINEL TO IRAQI VIGILANCE
ZERO PLUS 1236 DAY--New York, NY, Sunday, January
46-year-old Salama al-Khafaji, a Shiite dentist in Baghdad,
slipped on her bullet proof vest and donned her black garb to
make one last swing out on the streets to urge many of the 14
million eligible voters to cast their ballots in her favor.
survived three assination attempts to vie for a position
on the provisional assembly
She is one of 110 individuals,
parties and alliances vying for the 275 member provisional assembly
that will steer Iraq into a state of democracy.
Ms. al-Khafaji is a veteran
at standing up for her beliefs. She survived three assassination
attempts one during which her 17-year-old son was killed during
an ambush by insurgents which also killed one of her bodyguards.
She proclaims: "If I die, it is better to die for something
than rather than nothing."
Famed English Prime Minister
Winston Churchill is noted for a similar quote: "Stand
for something or be nothing." Ms. al-Khafaji has taken
that comment a step farther. She's standing for something with
a bulls eye on her chest--a prime target for insurgents who
have vowed to kill any Iraqi who comes within 500 yards of one
of the 5,300 polling centers strategically positioned in Iraq.
On guard to help protect
the voters are more than 140,000 American troops.
Most people in America and
other stable democracies might find it hard to comprehend that
to vote, one risks death. The idea that someone might shoot
and kill you as you approach a voting center is not a way to
maximize voter turnout. It does, however, suggest that those
willing to risk death to cast a ballot are the most committed
of all to the principles of freedom and liberty.
Vigilance is about taking
a giant risk for the future. It requires one to shed the safety
and comfort of one's current state of being. Even in the worst
of climates, people tend to accept their way of life rather
than rock the boat.
It's called Complacency.
In Iraq, for example, for
nearly a quarter century, the 24 million citizens of that nation
sat back and allowed tyranny and oppression to rule their lives.
They adjusted to the rapes of their children, the torture rooms,
the jammed prisons, the merciless beatings of Olympic competitors
who didn't win a medal and a host of other atrocities.
for a grass roots Association of Former Prisoners and
Missing Persons in Baghdad which is run by volunteers.
They have offices in every governate except Tikrit and
Ramadi. They are trying to imput into computers information
from siezed prison and other government documents to create
a database. . USAID-DART plans to help them get better
organized and possibly train them on how to properly interview
witnesses of atrocities or survivors of massacres.
In America, tens of thousands
of women remain in relationships with abusive husbands or boyfriends,
suffering severe physical and emotional scarring because it
is "too hard to escape."
For decades the Russian
people lived under the threats of communism, accepting a wall
that divided the East and West as though it were inviolable.
In North Korea, the citizens
of that nation boil grass to feed their children while across
the border their relatives go to McDonalds and Starbucks.
Sadly, in too many cases,
it takes an outside force to prompt people into action that
secures a better future for themselves and their children. There
can be little question that living under the auspices of freedom
and liberty, no matter how turbulent, is better than living
under tyranny and oppression.
That's why the woman dentist
in Baghdad who dons her bullet proof vest to hustle votes is
a strong symbol of the Price of Vigilance. Her price is that
she is willing to die for the right to be free.
So what is the lesson that
Ms. Khafaji offers the 300 million Americans watching the events
A child who is told the
story of the woman dentist realizes that there is some inherent
value in the freedom we often take for granted. In our country,
we do not risk death when we vote or when we campaign for what
we think is right, or when we speak our mind under the principles
of free speech.
In many counties the opposite
A Parent of Vigilance who
sits with a child and shares what is happening in Iraq is teaching
the child about Vigilance, and that standing up for one's beliefs
is the only way to preserve them. To let one's beliefs be smothered
by others is nothing more than feeding the Beast of Terror's
thirst for Complacency, and opening the door for tyranny and
oppression to rule.
It also follows that if
one is not a Parent of Vigilance then one is a Parent of Complacency.
To stand for something one
must announce what platform he or she represents. To go through
life without advocating a position means that no one knows where
you are, and if no one is aware, there is no advancement of
that position, no growth, no evolution.
Raising children in this
modern world is all about teaching them the Principles of Vigilance.
Those Principles simply are to replace Courage in the face of
Fear, to add Conviction where Intimidation once ruled, and to
shun Complacency by taking Right Actions for the benefit of
the Children's Children's Children.
These are not difficult
Principles to preach, but they may be hard to practice.
But if one believes in the
ideal that the mission of a Parent, a Loved One, a Guardian,
a Relative is to leave this world a little bit better for the
children, then becoming a Citizen of Vigilance is not hard at
all. Inside every human being is the desire to protect the innocent,
but, like any muscle, it must be exercised or it atrophies.
That's the reason we should
all take the Vow of Vigilance and become Citizens, Parents,
Loved Ones and Grandparents of Vigilance.
is about taking action
To vow to the Principles
of Vigilance is putting on bullet proof vests that keep us from
falling victim to the assaults of Complacency that drive us
into states of thinking we are powerless over certain fundamentals
We are not.
The abused wife can leave
and seek help. The disgruntled employee can quit the job and
find something more enjoyable to do. The angry citizen over
the political shape of the nation can run for office.
Vigilance is about action.
It's about standing up for what one believes, and, to think
through that belief to make sure that what one is advocating
is equally good for all children and the future of the world's
Put on your bullet proof
vest against Complacency.
Vote for Vigilance by taking
the Pledge of Vigilance today.
walking to vote as cars were prohibited
queing up to vote
woman indicating she has voted
with Iraqi soldiers watching over them
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