In this Conversation with God, Cliff asks about Iraq and why God allows war  to brew.  He finds the answer to the question in the question, and God's response issued in his own words, the words of Vigilance over Terrorism.


Thursday--January 30, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 505
 A Conversation With God On Why We Should Attack Iraq

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Jan. 30:     I am walking up Broadway, near 5th Avenue and 14th Street when I hear the hissing of the Angel's wings slice through the air.  My body is lifted as though I were feather and not 279 pounds attached to a 6-foot, 4-inch frame.   The Angel says nothing as it wings upward to and into Heaven, depositing me in the big oak chair.  I am dwarfed in it.  I grab at its worn arms where others who have sat before God gripped it out of Fear and Intimidation as I do now.   I blink as a fierce rush of air drives me against the high back of the chair.  A splinter on the seat jabs at my buttock.  I feel finite, vulnerable and wonder why I was summoned to another Conversation with God.

         "So, back again, huh, Cliff?
         "Yes...yes, sir?"  I don't question Him.  I don't tell Him I didn't want to come here, that I was abducted by the Angel.
         "Come on, son.   Don't be obsequious with me.  Call me Joe today.   Joe.  Yes. Joe.  That's a good buddy-to-buddy name."
         I try not squirm.  I've sat before God a number of times since September 11, but never at my request.   Who would want to be facing the the Almighty, the Guy who knows everything about everything, who can spin your deepest darkest moral secret before you like a toy top.  

The Throne of God

        God is huge.   He fills the throne like a Kodiak bear sitting on a tiny stump. His flowing white robe billows over the sides.  Wiry strands of his salt-and-peppered beard show the wear of eons of mortal time.  His face is craggy, furrowed as though He has spent too long looking down at us, scrunching His face over humanity's ignorance and sloth, frustrated over His children's will to defy their Father's roadmap, refuting His wisdoms.
        "Care for some caramel popcorn?  I have some left over from Christmas."  He shoves the large colorful tin canister toward me.  It is divided by three cardboard slots that once housed different flavors..  Only the caramel is left.
         "No thank you...."  I pause, remembering how angry He gets when I revert to the "sir" salutation.  "...No thank you, Joe."
          "Hard, isn't it?"
          I stare at God.  His jaws grind up and down as He gnaws on a handful of  gleaming popcorn kernels drenched in the amber of caramel.

God is All-Seeing

          "...Hard to refuse God.  I mean, how many people would reject God's offer of popcorn?   Think about it, Cliff.  Either you've got a lot on your mind, or you're not very bright."   God leans forward as He chews.  His thick nose looms like a battering ram near my face.  I clutch the oak arms of my chair.  His eyes are as blue as the summer's sky.  They spear deep into my soul, looking past my brain, my heart, my gut, burrowing into the dark corners, shining their brightness on the shadows I brought with me, illuminating every twist and cranny where I hide things even from myself.  I am soul-naked before Him.  My inner self is unzipped,  my moral viscera splayed out for His inspection.   As though I had any secrets, I think.  As though I had any secrets.
          "I meant no offense.  I'm just not hungry.  I'm trying to diet."
          I have no idea where those words came from.   Silly thoughts and silly words escape in times of critical mass.  
           God roars.  He laughs hard and slaps His knees.  The Angels of Vigilance roosting on their perches alongside Him wildly flap their wings.  Their eyes flick at and over me, measuring, evaluating, assuring themselves I am no threat.
          "That Atkins crap," God bellows, leaning back.  "You go on it and off it.   You're a yo-yo boy, gaining and losing, gaining and losing.  Three balanced squares.   Push the plate away.   Exercise.  That's the only way, son.   Eternally proven.  No matter how advanced your society becomes, there's no magic way to be a glutton and a hunk at the same time."  
           He laughs loudly again.  The clouds shake.   Angel feathers fly up from the soft fluffy crevices of the clouds, suspended for an instant in the stillness, hanging about like quill pens poised to scribe the future of the world on my forehead.  I try not to sneeze as one drifts past my face, skidding over my nose as it parachutes  into the white fluffy floor, swallowed out of sight as dust finds a home in the loose weave of a carpet.
          "You want to know about attacking Iraq don't you?  You want justification for another war."
          God puts the popcorn can down.  He leans back, arms resting on the gleaming gold arms of the throne, his right index finger tapping out a steady tattoo that shatters the white noise of the Heaven's stillness.
          "I'm not sure,   I'm sorry.  I'm nervous. I'm always nervous with you."
          God leans forward and places the thick hide of His hand on my knee.  He slaps it lightly as a grandfather might a child who is shocked by the old man wrinkles of the grandfather's face and shoots of gray hair sprouting from his ears.
       .  "Cliff...Cliff...come on now, be honest.  You're afraid, you're intimidated....I scare you."
          I see caramel kernels in His teeth as He talks.

The Seven Deadly Sins

          "Yes.   You frighten me.  But....only at first."
          "And you and your friends frighten me, son.  Oh yes.  God gets afraid.   I look down and grab my head sometimes in utter fear of what you are all thinking and doing.   My great fear is that you will never learn.   I fear you will always be stuck in that primordial ooze I wish I hadn't created.    It's turned out to be one of my great errors...I thought I could raise you up out of it.   But you retreat to it when things get tough.  You wallow in all those Seven Deadly Sins you all talk about--Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth--and then you top it off it with war, violence.  You abuse one another senselessly."
        God grabs his temples between His palms. "I get one of those...what do you call them...Ah, of those Excedrin know, Cliff, the ones your television commercials show where the hammer smashes against the anvil...and  lightening bolts thunder in the sky..."
          As He says the words "lightening bolts" a great clap of thunder shakes Heaven.  Instantly, the sky turns black as white flashes fill the sky.  An icy chill rushes through the stillness, puckering my pores.   I grip the chair.
          "Drama, drama, drama..."  God waves His hand.  The air is warm again.  Stillness prevails.   The black is gone.  The sun shines.

One of God's "Excedrin" headaches

           "It always comes down to war, Cliff.   One group of you holds up one flag, the other group another.   No compromise.  Just accusations flung across lines in the sand.  Then you attack one another.   You resolve your angst with blood.   I haven't figured out how I went so wrong in that arena.   Conflict yes, that's okay in the scope of Free Will, but senseless violence, killing one another in droves....and all the innocent along with the combatants...I never wanted that."
           I am no longer afraid.  Fear has exhausted itself.  God leans back in His throne, slumping slightly as a grandfather might over the news of His grandson's death.   I feel an urge to reach out and touch Him, comfort Him, but I catch the Angels' eyes watching me hawkishly.  I retreat to the back of my chair.
         "I'm sorry about that too," I say.
         "You know what I mean, Cliff.  You've seen the dead children, the dead mothers and fathers of war.  You've seen their blank death stares, the emptiness in their eyes as they lay in the hot sun, bodies cold, flies drinking the blue-back coagulated blood.   It's utterly senseless, this war thing, this death and destruction of life because two sides cannot agree."
          "I've always wondered why you don't stop it.  Just stop it!"
          I clutch the chair.  My Voice is harsh, the timbre on the last "just stop it!" ringing with an anger I regret once it escaped.
          God sits up.  He glares at me as though I caught Him catnapping on duty.  "I would if I could," He replies with non-retaliatory kindness.   I know I am out of of line.   I have no right to imply He allows or condones war. I know better.  But I cannot stuff the next question.
            "Why can't you?  Why can't you intervene?"
            God reaches down and stuffs His hand in the popcorn can, shoving a handful in His mouth.  He studies me as he chews. 
            "I've told you many times before I gave humans Free Will.   My mistake, but it's done.   I can't reverse the right you have to choose over right and wrong, good and bad.   If I  reverse myself, which I can't--remember, I lock myself out so I can't be running back every five minutes changing my mind--if I reverse myself and take away Free Will, well, then, I'd have to erase all human beings from earth.  They'd just be in the way of the ants and trees and birds and bears and things that serve to balance nature.   You human beings have little value except the hope you will evolve above the primordial ooze.    I thought you'd be farther along by now, but you seem to be stuck on killing each other over and over and over."
            "You sound bitter,"

God expresses Hope for the Children's Children's Children

      "No, no.   Frustrated, yes.  Bitter, no.  I still have Hope, Cliff.  The word you use is Faith.   But the waiting period is like a boil on my butt.  It hurts even when I stand."
        "I'm serious, me, Joe.  We're on the edge of not just war, but a battle between Good and Bad, Right and Wrong.   Terrorism is about the primordial ooze.   It's about how we think, how we remain in the jungle, how we twist our thoughts around so Fear, Intimidation and Complacency overpower our Courage, Conviction and Right Actions."
           "You've been reading my book."
           "You mean the Bible?"
           "No.  That was written by your ancestors...humans trying to define Me.   Trying to put a face to the name, a culture to the omnipotent, to divide up territory of righteousness so that one deification system could have more power over another.    Look at the world, Cliff.   Its all carved up into religious indignation.  It's as though I had been butchered by My children and quartered into all different pieces so that one nation could elevate me above another and then use that righteousness to kill under the color of My flag.    Your President invokes my name at the end of his speeches and says, 'God Bless America,' and Saddam Hussein calls on 'Allah' to drive off the infidels, and Israel claims real estate privilege in My name while Palestine claims their holy war is justified because I granted them the land long before anyone else laid claim to it.    I'm tried of being used in a taffy pull of righteous indignations that end up as excuses for the killing, maiming and slaughter of innocent children.   Bibles, Korans, Torahs, Books of Ifa, Adinkra scripture, Mudu Netche... are all feeble attempts to gain dominion over Me by sects, groups, and nations...each fumbling dogma to justify acts of violence invoked by My name."
          My mouth slackened.   I felt my heart pound fiercely.  Spittle flew out of God's mouth as He shouted His distaste triggered by the word Bible.  An angel fluttered down and wiped His lips delicately with the tip of her wing, then returned to her pedestal, her eyes watery as she watched God rub his forehead slowly, slumping slightly as though His anger pained him, reminding Him of visions of humanity's waste, of bodies stacked in the carnage of history, so many they reached to infinity.
         "I'm sorry, Cliff.   I've been watching what is going on down below.   I have such sorrow.  I should not take it out of its proper place and reveal it so openly."

Primordial Elixir

        "Perhaps it's your primordial ooze?"  I said it as a knee jerk response.  I didn't think before I opened my mouth.   It just seemed God was as much a victim of Terrorism's biting truths as humans with all their frailties.
         "I stepped out of it long ago."  He righted himself, dusting off the popcorn kernels in his lap with a long sweep of his hand.   Then he looked at me and gave a wink.   "At least, I think I did."
         "Maybe," I said, feeling braver by the minute, "...maybe Terrorism exists as our reminder to believe in You.  Maybe you hard-wired it into us so we could climb out of the ooze."
         "What do you mean?"
         "I'm not a rocket scientist as you know God, and I haven't been to Harvard and I'm not a chief of any state, so I'm not qualified to be the master of knowledge.   But, what if back when you were Creating things, you built in Terrorism--the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--to give you life.  Maybe the spore of all human differences isn't Free Will, but Terrorism."
          "You're losing me.  Back up.

          I shifted toward the edge of the chair.  I felt the adrenalin surging.  "What if Free Choice was all about the ability to move from Terrorism to Vigilance, and you designed human evolution to be motivated by Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   What if you planned Terrorism to be the springboard to Vigilance, and what is going on right now in the world is the crossing point, the intersection between our recognition that we must stand up globally to Terrorism in all its forms and shapes, and not just wait until it turns into an Iraq or a North Korea or an Iran or Sri Lanka."
           "Go on..."  God sat back and studied me inquisitively.    

Through Vigilance flows Conviction

      "Let's say human beings never attacked Terrorism head on.  Let's say they danced around the maypole so to speak, but didn't hit it on the head.   What if the first flash of Fear was the first signal a human had to muster Courage, and the first time one shirked from another in Intimidation was his or her coming of age of Conviction. 
        And, say that when one fell into the bed of Complacency and just froze in the nothingness it was so startlingly like death he or she rose up and committed to Right Actions, not just out of selfish desires, but for the future of the Children's Children's Children.   What if the Vigilance Formula was like E equal M C squared.  What if the battle going on below between nations was the final shroud that was being pulled away from our eyes so we could see Terrorism for what it is, the key to our evolution, the fuel that drives us all out of the primordial ooze, but not so far as to make us forget that if we aren't Vigilant, if we don't keep our eye on the future of the Children's Children's Children we will slip and slide back, be sucked down into Terrorism's quagmire and flail about like blind rats in a maze, unaware that Vigilance is the endpoint of Terrorism."
            "Now, that's a mouthful, Cliff.   You really think I created Terrorism to bring Peace and Harmony to the world?"

         I felt the adrenalin leak from my veins.  A cold sweat formed on my brow as I realized God was now cocking one eye, looking at me with a jaundiced eye.  I began to feel like the bug under a microscope.  My Voice quavered as I spoke.
           "I don't think you intended Terrorism as a means of destruction.  I believe it was a tool for construction, to build humans above the Beasts, a ladder to climb upwards toward the Heavens, away from the bestial nature where one abuses another without conscience, without remorse or regret.   I believe humans have hidden behind their ignorance for far too long.   They've lowered themselves by cowering to Fear and Intimidation and Complacency.   The mother who denies her children love from her heart, or the father who stands aloof from his children, creates as much Terrorism in the child's mind that the child isn't loved and cared for as Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il does neighboring nations that he might attack them with deadly weapons of mass destruction.   I think the pain of parental neglect to their children's dreams and ambitions, the denial of access to their inner selves, is far more Terroristic than a plane crashing into the World Trade Center killing thousands.   It is emotional genocide.   It kills one's belief in himself or herself, as surely as a land mine blows off a child's leg, or anthrax chokes the life out of its victim.    Human parental terrorism is the worst of crimes on earth."
           "You've done your homework it appears."
           I was quite nervous.
           "I believe this is the Age of Vigilance, God.  May I call you God?  Joe is so uncomfortable for me."
           "Certainly.  If it makes it easier for you, go ahead."
           "God, I believe when you created human beings, you set into motion the right for Vigilance to be recognized as the missing link everyone hunts for that bridges the gap between the Beasts and humans.   Today, we are on the cusp of a World of Vigilance, a world where Terrorism is defined not by Saddam Husseins, or Osama bin Ladens, or Adolph Hitlers, or Kim Jong Ils, but by parents who Terrorize their children by not teaching them the Principles of Vigilance, by parents who give their children the emotional cold shoulder and don't take upon their shoulders the duty of Vigilance, to train their children to turn Fear into Courage, Intimidation into Conviction, and Complacency into Right Actions for the benefit of the Children's Children's Children.    I believe this is a joyous time, God.   I believe it is the crossing point, the intersection where all your hard work will pay off.  It is the point where the world will face its Global Parent of Vigilance Duty, and stop Terrorism first at home, and then resolve the Terrorism that exists abroad."
            God reached into his popcorn can.  He fingered a piece and then chewed on it.
            "You think what is happening is the beginning of the end of Terrorism?"
            "Yes.   It's the end of Ignorant Terrorism.  It's the end of unjustified Terrorism.  It's the end of putting Terrorism at arm's length and the beginning of the time we embrace Terrorism as a tool to achieve Vigilance.   It's the time we agree to neutralize Terrorism with acts of Vigilance for a goal far greater than ourselves--for our children and their Children's Children."
            "Does that mean I'm out of a job?"  God smiled.
            "Oh, no.  Absolutely not.  It means your job is just beginning.   You know how thankful the world will be to you when they finally come to understand you aren't all those parts they think you are--when you become one whole body?    The children know who you are, but they are trained to believe in something else by their parents.   When they are born, they know you are the wonderment of what can be, the magic of imagination, the beauty of infinity.   Why, you can make cows jump over the moon, and dishes run away with spoons. 

Imagination will survive through Vigilance

           You can fire their imaginations far beyond this universe, until, that is, their parents stomp on it, abuse it, neglect it, corral it, feed it bigotry and hatred, soil it with prejudice and cultural rifts that cannot be gapped because of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   But those old ideas will evaporate as Vigilance grows in the face of Terrorism's threat.   Human faith will rise in inverse proportion to Terrorism's threat. I am convinced of that."
            "And you think I designed all that long, long ago?"
            "I believe you did, yes sir, I believe you did."
            "And do you think I have forgotten I did, if did?"
            "No.  You are omnipotent.  You know everything.  Whether you recall everything or not, well, that I don't know."
             God began to laugh heartily.  He laughed so hard the Angels flew from their perches because they shook thunderously.
             "What a salesman you are, Cliff.  You're good.  Very good.  But, you came here to ask me about Iraq.   Do you want to know."
             I sat stone faced.   God's blue eyes drilled me.
             "No, sir," I said slowly.  "That's your business. My business is selling Vigilance."
             "Do you want me to stop what's happening in Iraq?"
             "Not if it means the end of human beings.  No, that would be too large a price to pay."
             "Then, are we done for the day, Cliff?"

"Semper Vigilantes", said God and I felt his comfort and support

              "For the day," I said, smiling and standing.   The Angels flew quickly to the ready position.  I turned red, remembering that I should show God the respect of not standing before He did.
              "That's all right, Cliff.   I understand.  You've got Pledges of Vigilance to sell, and wheelbarrows full of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to pass out.  I'll let you go to work."
              He stood and waved his hand.  An angel swooped down and cradled me in her arms, lifting me up so I could see God eye-to-eye.
             "Semper Vigilantes," He said, and the angel took off.    I felt myself passing through the stars, downward toward the earth.
              I was deposited back in Union Square.   A war protest rally was under way.  People were arguing, sirens screamed up the streets.   In a playground near the statue of Abraham Lincoln two children's playgrounds teemed with young ones and their parents playing, laughing, oblivious to the protestors, the sirens, the cacophony of humanity.

Jan. 29--State of Vigilant Union Address

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