Wednesday-- March 6, 2002óGround
Zero Plus 176
Praying For Seeds Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
Mar. 6--Last night my wife and I went to another Terrorism Seminar.
What made it and the others we have attended post September 11th most
terrifying was the lack of answers to the questions about "What Are We
Going To Do To Protect Ourselves From Terrorism In The Future?"
Senator Gary Hart, Stephen Engleberg,
the editor of the New York Times International Edition, and Fareed Zakaria,
a Middle Eastern Harvard professor, composed the panel. Called the
Spitzer Lecture, the title of the night's discussion was billed as "United
States Security Threats: From Missiles to Bio-Terrorism."
It was held at the 92nd Street YMCA, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,
a wealthy "Old Guard" New York enclave.
It was a pricey seminar, the cost of
entrance I'm sure designed to keep the "riff raff" out--those younger less
affluent who might stand up in the middle of the dodging of critical
questions and shout: "What the hell do you mean we don't have any
answers to fighting Terrorism?"
As we looked around, the audience was
dressed in furs and expensive attire for a chilly New York night.
I assumed the ethnicity of the attendees were primarily Jewish, doctors,
lawyers, businessmen and women. While treading on grounds that
might appear to be racist, I do not intend that impression.
It was the aura of the room, the dress, the age and the subject that made
me consider that thought as I scanned the concert hall seats in which the
upper level of New York's leadership population comfortably sat.
Because of the texture of the
audience, I was braced for a spirited discussion, and perhaps some
confrontational questions from the audience that might make the evening
interesting and illuminating, since panelists tend to proffer a rather
soggy agenda in their rhetoric, avoiding specifics and solutions, and
usually ducking and weaving bull's-eye questions such as--"What The
Hell Are You Doing Personally To Protect Us From Harm, Mister Influential
The recent rumor of the Terrorists
bringing "dirty" nuclear weapons into New York City, and the increased
violence between the Israelis and Palestinians created sparks in the air
that hopefully would ignite into illumination flares, reducing the shadows
of doubt and confusion about firm policy to deal with the Middle East and
Terrorism crisis brought to New Yorkers doorsteps on September 11.
The show was a dud in that area.
No one had an answer except: "We
don't have an answer."
There was no closure, not even a hint of
While I'm not going into the details of the
seminar in this report, but I will in the next day or two as to who said
what and what it means, my wife and I left the auditorium and subsequent
reception with the same feeling of abandonment a child senses when he or
she asks mom or dad, "What are all the parents doing to make my future
safe and my friend's future safe, Daddy? Mommy? Grandpa?
Every one of the panelists bobbed and
weaved around that issue, splattering the audience with generalities.
Even when asked the question of the night: "What should America's
policy be toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the microphone rang a
dull silence before the moderator forced answers from the panelists, who,
offered nothing in return of any substance.
Lori and I were squirming in our seats.
We knew there is a very sound solution to
the safety and security of our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities,
our nation. We have been working on it since September
11th. It is the rallying of Parents of Vigilance, stirring the
people who suffer the pain of Terrorism into action--not waiting for the
government or global political or economic forces to resolve the issue.
But listening to Senator Hart, or Stephen
Engleberg of the New York Times, or Fareed Zakaria of Harvard University
was like having three too many drinks and going to an arcade and trying to
pound the hammer on the heads of gophers that pop up and challenge you to
whop them before another pops up. They were pros at ducking,
weaving and not driving any nails into questions.
On the way out the door I made a comment to
the young man standing guard at the door: "They didn't have a
solution," I said. "They need to watch Star Trek and realize
that Terrorism will never go away, and form the United Federation today to
fight the Klingons!"
The young man laughed and said: "They
should have had you on the panel."
I laughed too, because they should have.
I would have made everyone in the room want to stand take the Pledge of
Vigilance because it was at least an actionable answer to the question of
the night--"What are we doing to lessen the security threats to the United
States?" Drowning people tend to grasp at straws, and the
Pledge is, at its least, a chunk of thick rope in a sea of straws.
Upon awakening this morning I sat at
the computer and thought about what I would write today.
I didn't want to be like the panelists last night. I didn't want to
report nothing. I didn't want to issue a blank piece of
paper to an audience who expects some form of answer from those who allege
to lead the world's goal of unification, of putting a wall up between
Terrorism and the doorways of any civilized country's citizens.
In the calm of rising at 4:33 a.m.,
while most of the city sleeps, the mind has time to sift through issues
and to see answers more clearly than at the end of the day when it is
filled to the brim with all the happenings and issues of living life.
For me, at least, I find the emptiness of
my daily vault of thoughts refreshing, and open to a higher level of
communication than just with myself. Some could call it
meditation time, where you focus on listening to the world talk to you
rather than confuse it with thoughts that are nothing more than tongues of
the mind wagging in the wind.
So I did that.
I mediated on the "righteousness" of the
Parents of Vigilance concept. Was it indeed a solution, one of many
that would inch the world closer to United Federation, to the creation of
a Star Ship Enterprise? Would it truly form a base upon which
peoples of all different ethnicities and cultures could rally as one
unified body against Terrorism's threats?
I found the answer in a prayer that rattled
through my head, as though some force was inscribing it on my grey matter.
The words appeared, singing to me, as though I were a mere piece of paper
and they were the quill and pen.
After they completed their message I sat
back and had a sense of endowment, a deeper belief in pursuing the track
of promoting Vigilance as the primary strategy to thwart Terrorism.
Even though last night in an hour and a half of discussions from the
panelists, not one of them used that word. It was as though the word
"Vigilance" did not co-exist in the realm of Terrorism, as if the two were
world's apart--so much so that an editor of one of the world's most
powerful papers, a United States Senator, and a top Middle Eastern Harvard
professor incised the word "Vigilance" from his vocabulary.
What a pity, I thought, for
those who understand that Terrorism can only be beaten at the doorstep of
Vigilance, for it fears entering its house and being attacked by its
The prayer came to shine some light on an otherwise dreary night.
I wrote it after it played its tune in my mind.
Hopefully, I captured its essence, but whenever one translates
a "pure thought," it gets cluttered slightly by structure
and creativity. Still, I offer it as my summary of what
the Strategy to fight Terrorism should be--with, not without,
clear and distinct Hope:
Morning Prayer To The Spirit Of Vigilance
Oh Almighty Spirit of Vigilance, you who
shepherd the Hope of the world and beyond,
Hear my words of
Bless the thoughts
I think and write today, that they may become Seeds of Hope.
Scatter them to the Winds of Time that
they may be cast on stone, arid and rich soil.
Allow the hearty to take root, to burrow
into the marrow of Terrorism, and grow healthy despite the weeds
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency surrounding it.
most sturdy of these scattered seeds germinate,
Nurture them so they sprout sprigs
of Light within caves of Darkness.
Offer each your wisdom so they grow
into strong Children of Vigilance with the power to shun Fearís
shroud, to not cower in Intimidationís dark shadow, and to avoid
the quagmire of Terrorismís insidious Complacency.
with fruits of Hope so that they transform into Citizens of
Choke the weeds that might stunt
their growth as they evolve into Parents of Vigilance.
Empower them to seek the light
that Terrorism tries to hide in its womb so it will never be
born, never light the way for others.
Give these Children of
Vigilance Tools of Vigilanceó
Courage to face their Fear,
Conviction to nullify Intimidation,
And the fuel to take Action against the sinkhole of Complacency.
these Parents of Vigilance to kneel before their children, and,
at eyelevel, bridge the gap between Child and Adult.
Let the hearts of Parents
of Vigilance shine light within the caves of the Beast who lurks
within us all, cleaving us from Hope by isolating and Terrorizing
our self worth.
Almighty Power of Good, Teach
the Parents of Vigilance to honor the Spirit of the Child.
Bring the Light of Hope and Love
into the Childís soul, so she or he may know its parents are
coaches urging them to walk safely through the minefields
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
the union of Parent and Child of Vigilance.
Guide Parents of Vigilance into
Grandparents of Vigilance.
Bless each Offspring of Vigilance.
the Words Of Vigilance of the few become the sustenance of the
Pass from generation to
generation the Pledge of Vigilance.
Offer the most helpless
equal access to the Three Shields of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction
Offer each newborn the
right to become a Child of Vigilance, a Brother or Sister of
Vigilance, a Mother or Father of Vigilance, an Uncle or Aunt
or Cousin of Vigilance, a Loved one of Vigilance, a Grandparent
of Vigilance rather than a victim of Terrorism..
Deny none access
to your strength, Oh Spirit of Vigilance.
Cliff McKenzie, Mar 6, 2002
Go To Mar.
5 "Once on the Lips Forever on the Hips"
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