The VigilanceVoice
Wednesday-- March 6, 2002óGround Zero Plus 176

Praying For Seeds Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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?"

Gary Hart

   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?"

Fareed Zakaria

        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 Leader?"
        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 it.
       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?  Grandma?"
       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 etymology.

          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 Prayer.

     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.

      Let the 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.

      Honor them with fruits of Hope so that they transform into Citizens of Vigilance.
      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.

       Spirit 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.

      Fertilize the union of Parent and Child of Vigilance.
      Guide Parents of Vigilance into Grandparents of Vigilance.
Bless each Offspring of Vigilance.

       Let the Words Of Vigilance of the few become the sustenance of the many.
       Pass from generation to generation the Pledge of Vigilance.
       Offer the most helpless equal access to the Three Shields of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Action.
       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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