April 2, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 203
A Conversation With God About Peanuts And Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 2--"So,"
God boomed, his Voice shaking the feathers off the angels roosting
vigilantly on the crown of his throne, "you're back.
Want a Diet Pepsi?"
I sat in the small chair before Him, clutching the worn handles
where thousands before had felt the same as I--infinitely small.
I could feel the knobs under my fingers where prior adventurers
had clutched the chair in hope God's wrath might not blow them
out of the seat and cast them flailing headlong into the heavens
where gravity would once again appear, and one's body would
plummet to the earth like Sisyphus' rock.
"No thank you,
sir," I responded.
"Just call me
Gee, that's phonetic for the letter G, and short for God.
I'm not impressed with salutations" He took a big
swig from the Diet Pepsi can, then gave me a soft look.
"Not that you're here to impress me with civility,"
He said. "I didn't mean to imply you were out of
line calling me, sir. I just prefer that we be equal
in our conversations, and you feel comfortable."
Ha, I thought, equal?
Hardly. God was so large I craned my neck to look up.
His chair was carved three times the size of the one in the
Basically in Rome, and he would make Paul Bunyan look like a
dwarf next to him.
"Ah," God sighed.
"I forgot. Excuse me!"
I blinked my eyes and as they
reopened, God appeared before me, my size, an older man with
lots of wrinkles and a large pointed beard he stroked, more
like a philosopher than a Santa Clause.
His skin was a combination of white and black and yellow and
copper, a potpourri of the many degrees of ethnicity He had
created on earth.
produced a bag of peanuts hidden from my sight beside the chair,
and snapped the husk of one, offering me the fruits of his cracking
labor. I hesitated for a moment, thinking I might
refuse His proffered gift, but then thought He might take offense
and held out my palm as he shook the two shelled rosewood
colored nuts into my hand. I popped them in my mouth and
chewed slowly as Gee snapped a couple and munched on them.
"You're here about Vigilance
again? Haven't given up yet, huh? Still think
people will listen to you?"
"Yes. I hope they
Gee laughed. I grabbed the chair. Even though He
was normal sized, His Voice cracked thunderously, and the Heavens
trembled as He clutched his gut to restrain Himself from toppling
all the angels from their roots.
"They haven't listened to
me, boy. Why should they listen to you?" He
laughed heartily again. I felt the hair on my head whoosh
back, as though I were standing in a wind tunnel. My cheeks
were forced back as the velocity of his laughter pressed my
body against the thick high-backed chair in which I sat.
The cloud on which the chair rested shook.
"I didn't mean to be presumptuous,
Gee," I said.
"I know, son. I know.
It is always humorous to me that Voices such as yours compete
with my Voice...and often ring louder to more than mine.
It's like little kids in a playground...they get advice from
each other and refuse to listen to their parents...what do parents
know anyway...?" Again, he chuckled.
My chair shook slightly. I kept my grip ready in case
the volume increased.
"It's been two-hundred and
two days since Ground Zero. I need your support.
I sometimes feel my Voice is dying in the wind."
Gee drained the Diet Pepsi and
tossed the empty peanut shells onto the fluffy floor of the
undulating clouds. Two angels swooped down and picked
them up, wagging their fingers at him in admonishment.
forget!" Gee glanced over at me and smiled.
"Before you humans were created, I could throw peanut shells
anywhere I wanted," He said softly, pretending the angels
couldn't hear. "They automatically recycled.
Mulch for the earth.
Then, after I created Adam and Eve, and civilization began,
all these ecological rules appeared. Now, the angels
have taken them to heart. I can't do anything without
being reminded not to be messy. Ah, the problems of omnipotence
are not simple, my son. But enough of me--what
is your question?"
Gee tossed me the peanut bag.
I grabbed at it instinctively, forgetting that without my hands
clutching the rails of the chair I might be spun like a feather
into the blue velvet of Heaven's heartland. I held
the bag with one hand and grabbed hold of the rail with the
"I just needed a pep talk,
I suppose, Gee. To see if I'm on the right track
"Doubting yourself again,
huh," Gee said, popping another Diet Pepsi. "It's
normal. I laced Hope with Doubt, gives it some tension,
makes it worthwhile when you struggle through it. Doubt
is the engine to Hope, you know."
I said, having taken that lesson to heart. "But,
it seems the world is tiring of this battle against Terrorism...wanting
the quick fix...the instant solution...and, what I am doing
is long-range. I'm asking people to make Vigilance a way of
life, not a doorstop. And no one is responding."
"You mean, you haven't
sold any Pledges of Vigilance today?" He laughed
deeply, this time controlling the force so my chair didn't shake
in the wake.
"That's one measure,
Gee. I'd give them away if I thought people found value
in something for nothing!"
Gee stroked his beard.
"You're right, son. People have this quirk.
If they get something like Grace for free they just expect it
to keep coming. People think something for free
is worthless. Like air. I give them air and
they smoke, and choke the air with pollutants. Or, I give
them water pure from glaciers and they muck it up with irrigation
and fertilizers, or build dams to light up streets and work
televisions and computers. And toilet flushing.
Why I watched someone the other day flush the toilet six times
in one sitting. What a waste!"
to get the Pledge out there, Gee. I'm trying but it isn't
working. I need some help."
I thought Gee was
going to fall over backwards in his chair. He roared
like a lion, tossing his head upward so the shaft of air he
expelled made the stars above dance and glitter in the sky.
"I gave them the Ten Commandments for free and they haven't
even memorized them yet. Go ask ten people to recite them
for you--just watch the blank look on their faces after they
stumble through one or two. You want a Pledge of
Vigilance, son? Try using those!" His
Voice raised in timbre. I thought perhaps He was
going to grow huge again and swat at me like I was a noxious
fly trying to steal some mustard from a hot dog He was easting.
I cowered in my chair.
Gee's countenance shifted to
consolation. "Sorry, son. That wasn't appropriate.
I shouldn't have done that." He reached out
took my trembling hand.
It's frustrating. You think you have this great answer
to help people see the light of wisdom--to help them navigate
the darkness--and they just don't see it as you see it, son.
They are too busy wrapped up in themselves. I have
to admit your Pledge has an edge over the Ten Commandments.
You made yours to the benefit of the children--directly.
I didn't. I assumed humans would be smart enough to connect
that something good for them was also good for their children,
and their children's children. I was wrong.
I should have called it, The Ten Children's Soul Safety Commandments.
Maybe they would have looked at them more closely. So,
you're on the right track, son."
He reached for the peanut bag
and broke a shell apart with a loud snap.
"I want you to go back down
to earth, boy. You keep promoting your Pledge Of Vigilance.
You keep the Faith. One day they will listen--not
all--some--and they will use what you have offered."
"But what more can I do?
I know there is much more to do...I guess I am getting blocked.
Can you help me there?"
Gee had cracked a pile of nuts as I
stammered out my question. He scooped them into his mouth
and chewed for a while before he spoke.
I waited. He said nothing else.
"How?" I asked.
"If I knew that for sure, everyone
would spew the Ten Commandments at the drop of a hat,"
He replied. "I only know if you believe in
your Pledge of Vigilance, if you believe that Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency can be fought with Courage, Conviction and Action,
then promote it. Keep pounding the keyboard. Keep
issuing out press releases. Keep shoving the rock up the
I felt deflated, expecting more from Gee. After all, he was
the Almighty. One sweep of his hand and the world could
spin off its axis.
"What else is there, son?
Isn't Vigilance about seeing past the rock?" He leaned
back and studied me, his eyes leveling at me, forcing me into
I thought about it.
I saw the rock in front of me. It started as a pebble.
But as time passed and the responses to my web page grew nil
to nothing, the rock grew larger and larger. Two-hundred
and two days later I was dwarfed in its shadow; my shoulder
ached from trying to fruitlessly move it forward.
I hadn't thought about seeing through the rock--I had only thought
about moving it, or letting it roll back on me.
"I guess, Gee!"
"What if one or two people
a few months from now start reading all the things you have
written? What if they realize the depth of your message
because they know you have the belief in what you say?
Maybe they will become your Sentinels of Vigilance, your scouts,
your disciples and carry the Word to others?"
I let His words sink in.
"I wasn't very successful
on my own," Gee said. "So I sent a lot of sons
to do the job. I sent Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Nanbush--he's
an American Indian spirit--and a host of others to carry the
Word, to enhance the Word. Each one presented it
slightly different. There is the Koran, the Bible,
the Torah...just to name a few. In the deep rain
forests where modern religion has yet to penetrate, the villagers
build the message in their own tongue, in their own way.
There is that rabbit character, Nanbush, the Indians honor as
part of their Great Spirit. There are countless
messages old and new out there, son. Each adds to the
pot. Each flavors the stew of unity, of peace over war,
of Vigilance over Terrorism, of Right over Wrong.
"New ways of fighting Terrorism
are needed, son. But like the old ways, they are
not easy to promulgate. You might need disciples.
You might need to go preach the message. You might need
to stand on the street corner and shout the benefits of becoming
a Parent of Vigilance. I don't know, son.
I only know that if you see past the rock, through the rock,
under the rock, around the rock, you'll know you are on the
right path. Is there anything else?"
"No, sir. I mean,
"Good. Because the
answer to all your questions, all your doubts is hidden in peanut
With that cryptic comment
He stood and scooped his big hands under my armpits, lifting
me out of the chair and set me on a cloud. He motioned
for an angel. It flew down and offered its back to me
I looked quizzically at Gee.
"Litter," Gee said
softly, lovingly. "Think of your mind being littered
with peanut shells. The harder you try and crack the nuts,
the more peanut shells you create. If you don't sweep
them away, they blind you. Maybe that's all that's
standing in your way--not a rock--just a lot of peanut shells.
Which would you rather move from your vision--a huge heavy rock,
or a lot of little peanut shells all stacked up to appear as
I smiled. "Thanks,
"You can call me, God," He said,
His body taking on the gigantic form it originally had when
I first appeared before Him. "But you can think of
me as a peanut shell, something easy to move. So when
you pray next time, pray to the nut inside the peanut shell.
You'll crack your nut--you'll move the litter of Doubt that
blinds you from time to time. Just keep on cracking peanuts,
son. Perseverance and Patience will overcome Hesitation
With that He lifted his
hand. A great wind swept through Heaven and the angel
opened its wings. I felt myself rising, swirling up into
the velvet blue-black of the diamond-studded sky.
In the distance I thought
I could hear God's Voice booming, "Semper Vigilantes--Semper
To April 1--The Greatest Fool Of All--Terrorism