Article Overview:   In  a Conversation With God, Cliff poses some hard questions to the Almighty about Saddam Hussein.  He asks him about Saddam Hussein--will he escape?   He asks about a friend of his daughter's named Kathy who is a human shield in Iraq.   He asks about why God lets war happens.  And he cracks peanuts with the Almighty.


Sunday--March 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 543
Conversation With God:  How Will Saddam Escape Iraq?

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 9--The following is a VigilanceVoice Conversation With God.  Occasionally, God will pluck me from earth and sit me down in his giant oak chair to provide answers to perplexing issues rattling about in my mind.    My most recent one is:  Will Saddam escape Iraq if we attack it?  God found this question fascinating.  He swept me up from Union Square in Manhattan on the wings of one of his swift transport angels to enlighten me once more with His wisdom, power and humor.  Here is my report of our conversation.  God's conversation will be in boldface and mine in regular type.

* * * * * * *  * * * * * *   * * * * * * * * *

God's thumb exerting exact pressure

      "So, you are wondering about the body doubles?"
     God was cracking salted shelled peanuts - one of his most favorite pastimes.   He leaned back and studied the seam of the shell, carefully pressing his great thumb exactly in the middle of it, grimacing slightly as he applied steady pressure until it cracked.

Before sinning, Adam and Eve were like two perfectly innocent nuts in a peaceful husk

       "You must be careful not to put too much pressure on the shell.  You can crush not crack it if you do," He said, surgically peeling back the husk and exposing the two exposed peanuts within.   "They remind me of Adam and Eve.   Two perfectly innocent nuts in a peaceful husk.   Then Temptation comes along and smashes away their protection, thrusting them into the wilderness.   That's why I'm very careful when I crack open a peanut, Cliff.   Far too much crushing of shells these days."   He shook the two peanuts into the palm of His hand, tossed back His head and threw them into His gaping mouth.  He chewed slowly, studying me as my mouth gaped open, awed by the fact that God would one, be eating peanuts, and two, liken them to Adam and Eve.

         "Care for some?"   He proffered me the clear plastic bag brimming with peanuts.  At earlier visits I learned quickly not to refuse His hospitality for it seemed to irritate Him.  I reached in and took two nuts.
God held the empty shell between his thumb and forefinger.   One of the Sentinel Angels roosting in a circle around his throne and my chair swooped down and plucked it from his fingers.   "Don't want to make a mess," God said smiling.  He leaned forward, glanced over his shoulder at the Sentinel Angels pretending not to watch His every move, and whispered to me:  "They like to keep me tidy.   Order, they say, is a virtue.   Empty peanut shells hurt their feet."
God leaned back and split open another husk, taking one nut out and slowly placing it in his mouth, and then the other.   I struggled to not crush the husk of mine.   It seemed so uncomfortable to be sitting before God and cracking peanuts.  No one would believe me if I told them, but then I never told anyone about my Conversations With God.  Who would believe me?   
       "That's it,"
God urged, "use your fingernails.   Easy.  Easy.  Yes!"
  Sweat beaded on my forehead as the nut shell cracked open enough so I could pry the two halves apart.   I felt as though I had a gun to my head cracking the nut, and if I had crushed it instead of cracked it, that maybe God would think I had smashed Adam and Eve with my thumbs and, as any angry parent, lashed out at me.    I elected to not try the other nut I had, and slipped it into the palm of my hand.

Saddam cannot slip through the cracks like Bin Laden

        "So, you don't want Saddam Hussein killed, is that why you're here?"
       I jerked my attention away from hiding the nut to God's eyes.   They were always intense, filled with a blend of Love and Admonition that made me comfortably uneasy in his presence.   The huge oak chair that swallowed me didn't help.  Neither did the worn chair handles where others like myself had sat and gripped the arms with such ferocity as to create grooves.   I always wondered who had come before, how many had sat before God and tried not to feel Intimidated in His presence.    Then there were the Angels, his "watchdogs with feathers" who never seemed to look directly at you, but you knew they were counting the blinks of your eyelids and measuring the pounding beats of your heart.
"Well, in a way.   I'm concerned about a lot of people dying in the war.   And, of course, whether Saddam will slip through the cracks like Osama."
       "He's got the instincts of a sewer rat, you know, Cliff.  He can scurry through the bowels of Baghdad in his maze of tunnels and pop up about anywhere he wants.    He knows more about exit strategies than anyone alive on earth.  Maybe more than Michael Jackson.   Look how many traps he's escaped so far.  The Gulf War.  Suicide attempts by his son in laws.   Now, the U.N. debacle.  I can't keep up with his zig-zagging.   That's why he sleeps in a different bed each night, you know.  He's a master gamesman, a Dungeon and Dragon master.   His body doubles take his place so often you're never quite sure who is smoking the cigar."  
God laughed and cracked another nut.   "If he spent as much time trying to get along as he does trying to not get along, he could enjoy a good night's rest."

Saddam has a multitude of body doubles

       I gripped the chair.   "Could you tell me, sir, what is going to happen?  Will he escape?  Will there be much death and destruction of the innocent?"
   God put the crinkly bag of nuts into his lap. and brushed his hands together to rid them of shrapnel from the dimpled shell husks he had been continuously cracking.
       "You don't have to call me, sir, Cliff.   Call me Father today.  That's what you want anyway, isn't it, some Fatherly wisdom?"
I tried not to twitch.   I was never sure what to call God, for on other visits He had often asked me to call him by a variety of names, to make me more comfortable I think, to relax the tension between the mortal and immortal nature of our beings.
  "O.K., Father.   Yes.  I need some wisdom on the whole issue.   I feel like I'm about to witness another slaughter of human life.   I've seen more than my share already, and the older I get, the more I am troubled by it all."
     God leaned back and let his eyes pierce mine.  For a moment I felt as though I were a gnat on His arm about to be swatted, then His eye softened into a warmth that edged away the chill I felt.
         "You think you've seen slaughter?   Oh, Cliff.   I've cried so many tears over the wanton destruction of human life.   How would you like to look down and see your children killing one another eon after eon, century after century, day after day.   Some days I don't want to look down because the pain grows.    It started with Caine and Able and hasn't stopped.   If only I hadn't given you all egos and made you feel you had the right to kill...." 
He paused.   I saw the fluid in his eyes well, misting his gaze.   His face looked old, ancient.   The wrinkles became leathery, worn as though each drop of blood of all those who had died senseless deaths had battered themselves against his face, pocking it as a drop of water pounds a hole in the granite rock over thousands of years.
"Do we have a right to kill Saddam?"

Do we have the right to kill Saddam?

          The question flew off my lips.   As it crossed the space between my mouth and God's ears, I gripped the chair.    I had just put God in a box, a place neither mortals nor immortals like to be.
          "Right to kill....!"  
God's Voice boomed.   The angels fluttered.   I heard a crack of thunder overhead, as though the stomach of Heaven was upset at my question.
"I apologize.  That's an unfair question.  It assumes you had something to do with it all.  I know that's true."
             God stroked His beard and crossed his legs.  The flowing white robe He wore slipped smoothly with his movement.
            "Unfortunately, I did,"
He said.  "Giving you all choices and egos.  And that damn thumb.  See, Cliff, if it weren't for the thumb you guys couldn't make tools.  That was a huge mistake.   You could grasp things with it and become dexterous, and soon you were whittling clubs and spears, and then hammering out iron and then steel into swords and shields, and then manufacturing guns and canons, and you've gone over the line and created these monster weapons of mass destruction that the wind can carry to anywhere they blow and seed the earth with horrible effects.    Sometimes I get so angry at myself...all over that thumb."
          As he spoke, God held up his thumb and seemed to be talking to it, not me.   It was an odd scene, God's lips moving, His eyes nearly crossed as he focused on curve of His thumb.
           "And this right to kill crap,"
He said, wringing his hands as though to force his attention from his thumb and back to me.  "That's your invention, not mine.   I have to suffer through it, not condone or endorse it.    Sure, Saddam is what you call evil in his ways, but evil is not a just reason for death.   Killing evil is impossible.   If killing evil were a solution then each time an evil person died, so would all evil be buried with him or her.   It would have died with Hitler, or Jack the Ripper were it a perishable commodity.   But evil is a virus, not a thing.  It floats around looking for a host, and when one host dies, another is born.    Killing evil only feeds the evil, for it presumes evil can be eradicated.  It can't.  It can only be contained, separated from the good, as you expound on each day with your Beast of Terror and Vigilance Formula.    Killing is stupid, Cliff.  It always has been and always will be."
"So, you think Saddam will escape?"
         God clenched his teeth.   I wished I didn't ask, but I wanted to know.  I wanted to know if God knew something I didn't about the end of all this madness.   I knew there was a thirst to feel we had eliminated evil, a hunger to bring Saddam's head to the table to show the world the price of evil was death.
          "Escape what?   Saddam is an errant child with horrific toys at his disposal to bully others.   How can one escape from his own skin?"
       "Okay, let me ask this.   We have a friend over in Iraq.  She's a peace activist.  Her name is..."

Kathy in Baghdad demonstrating for Peace

         "Kathy...."  God interrupted me.  "Of course I know who she is.  She's your daughter's friend in the Catholic Worker.  She went to Iraq right after the first of the year with a non-violent group called the "Voices in the Wilderness." She's holding up peace signs and is part of the human shield around Baghdad.  I know her, of course I know her. I know all my children."
"What about her and the others?   Will they be killed?"
God clenched his fist and set his jaw.  "Are you putting me on trial, Cliff?"
         "No, sir...I mean, Father.   I woke up early this morning and felt this horrible sense of despair.    I dreamt last night of those faces from my own war, the little children in Vietnam all splayed out with holes in their bodies, and that glazed lifeless stare.   I see them frequently these days.   I don't know who to ask, or where to turn.   I guess I'm sick of death."  I tried to shrink into the grain of the oak chair, wondering why my tongue felt like brass knuckles.

God's brow softened as the clouds parted and the sun shone through

        "You're sick of it!"   God grabbed the bag of peanuts, extracted a husk and crushed it so hard the shell burst into ragged pieces.  "See what you made me do!"   He threw the peanut and shell down.  Before it hit the fluffy clouds upon which we sat, an angel swooped down, netting the fragments with the tip of her wing.
           "I'm sorry!" 
God relaxed his brow, the furrows softening as the clouds do when the sun leaks through the storm, mollifying Nature's wrathful moments.  "Maybe I'm like you...just tired of it all...tired of the flow of human blood in the name of justice.   Why, Saddam's elder son, Uday, started up his newspaper a couple of days ago." God chuckled.  "He calls it The Babil Newspaper, as in Babel, as in Tower of Babel.   It's full of Babel news."
    God's countenance shifted from the powerful thunder-bolted Herculean magistrate of Heaven, to a little child giggling over a private joke.   I smiled.  He switched back to His serious nature.


     Uday, Saddam's elder son started up and ran The Babil Newspaper

          "Whenever he mentions his father's name he prints--'Saddam Hussein, may God protect him,'--kind of makes you wonder if he's worried about his father's future.   And then, when the West is mentioned, the paper says, 'May God Damn Them.'   I don't like that.   Too many people might think I'm on his side or against the other side.    I'm only on one side--the Children's side.    Inside Saddam is a little boy, not a monster.  The same exists in George Bush, in everyone.   Nobody needs to kill anyone, but they do.   It's all about the thumb, Cliff.   Making weapons.  The Thumb of Destruction."
"What about Kathy, Father?   What about the innocent."
            "I thought you wanted to know about Saddam.   Now we're focused on Kathy?"
"Yes.   What about her?"
              "I'm going to pray for her."
"Excuse me."
              "I'm going to pray for her, for Saddam, for George Bush. For France, Germany, North Korea.  I'm going to pray for everyone, Cliff."

A mural of Saddam praying to Allah

        "But aren't you just praying to yourself then?"
       "Absolutely not.  I'm praying that you all will stop letting the Beast of Terror rule your lives.   You keep letting evil grow.  You turn your heads to it like gardeners who take long siestas and let the weeds grow.   Negligence, Complacency, Politics all keep you from putting your foot down on Terrorism.  Now, its popped out of the dark.   And you're all scrambling at the last minute, the last hour, to try and stop it.   You wait until the boil gets all pusticular before you pop it and it explodes all over, infecting everything.    You don't stop it before it starts.   Vigilance is eternal, Cliff.  It's not about waging war at the last minute.   So, I'm going to pray you might learn some lessons this time.   You might get sick and tired of the blood."
"You're not going to do anything?"

Evil is Evil......  Saddam is Evil

   "I did it.  I gave you all the choice a long time ago to be Vigilant.   Not just some of you. All of you.  Evil is evil.  Good is good.   But you all want to shade the two.   Good guys call bad guys bad, and bad guys call good guys bad, and each thinks the other is evil.   Look at Uday's Babel's full of the words 'evil.'  Your president calls them 'evil.'   They aren't evil.  They are hosts for evil.   All humans are.  It's all about percentages.   How much good over evil is there in each human, how much choice is there to choose what is right for all children?   That's the question.   You call it the Pledge of Vigilance.  I call it human kindness.   In either case, it comes down to whom respects the children's future more.    Whoever that is, is on the right track.    Politicians don't care.   They care only about power.   Only parents really care.   Only when the Parents of Vigilance, as you call them, rise up in each and every nation of the world, will humanity find solutions to the blood of war."
"Does that mean you're going to let Kathy and Saddam escape?"
         "That's not my job, Cliff. My job is to pray for your enlightenment.   What my children do is their business.  I offer you solutions.   But if you ignore them, and continue letting the Beast of Terror grow into cancer, then you have to cut it out or it will infect everyone.    Unfortunately, the cost of the operation is the death of the innocent and the guilty.    Bombs and bullets have no conscience, and neither does a germ or virus."

The Sentinel Angel carried me on her back through the stars

         "So what should I do?"
           "Keep writing, Cliff.   Keep believing that one day people will crack peanuts with care, cautious not to break the husk and smash the precious children within."
           Suddenly, the Sentinel Angel swooped down and lifted me on her back.   In a blink I was in the sky, flying through the stars.    I saw God's receding figure stand and wave.

         "Don't stop seeing the faces of the children," he shouted.   "Don't stop believing the blood will one stop flowing."

Where were Women Against the War when Saddam was a little boy

          Then I was deposited back at Union Square.   Women Against the War were protesting.  They carried banners and shouted into microphones.
           I wondered where they were when Saddam was a little boy.




Mar. 8--The Intelligence Community--Our Sentinels Of World Vigilance

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