The VigilanceVoice

August 3, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 325

Crocodile Hunter Should
Head Up Homeland Security

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 3--I've wrestled lots of crocodiles in my life, but not the reptilian kind.
       Mine included human forms, and psychic forms.    All of them had one intent, to sink their jagged, prehistoric teeth into my flesh, and twist and thrash until I became their meal.

     But there is a guy who wrestles real crocs, not make believe ones.   And as far as I'm concerned, he ought to appointed as the head of our Homeland Security.  He would personally hunt, find, and wrestle Osama bin Laden to the ground, hog tie him, and redeposit him in some remote place he would never bother anyone ever again.
         My candidate's name is Steve Irwin, aka The Crocodile Hunter. 
      My grandchildren are some of his biggest fans.   He's the "Aussie" whose face dominates cable TV's Discovery Channel, and is always out in the wild wrestling with some venomous snake, or, most notably, leaping into murky waters to wrestle crocodiles at the risk of his life, or at least, a couple of his limbs.

      He reminds me of the guy who leaps off tall buildings just to show others why they shouldn't, but lands safely on his feet to show you if you know what you're doing, you can handle the most fearsome danger.
       His story is the antithesis of the one highlighted by recent headlines of former President Bill Clinton spouting out at a Jewish fundraiser he'd take up arms and fight to the death for Israel.   Unlike Clinton, Steve is all about "doing" and nothing about "boasting."    Well, at least not boasting until he's done it.  Then he screams out his accomplishments, but after not before the fact.

       Unfortunately, I had to laugh, when I saw the headline and picture of Bill Clinton telling the world how courageous he would be if Iraq invaded Israel.    Was this the same guy  who protested the Vietnam War, who had trouble saluting the American Flag?   Was this the chubby, likeable guy who savored fame, fortune and naive young women, the guy who lied to the American public on television until his hand was caught not in the holster, but the cookie jar? Yup!  It wasn't the Crocodile Hunter, it was the Monica Hunter.
       As a U.S. Marine combat vet, I have to admit I put Bill Clinton in the same category as Jane Fonda regarding his anti-war position.   Worse, I could smell the scent of bull waste reeking from Clinton's words, while I heard the tintinnabulation of Truth from Steve Irwin's.  

      In the Crocodile Hunter's version of Vigilance, Action is the key.   Bill Clinton's version is headlines--words rather than deeds.
      I found it hard to believe Bill Clinton would face death when he was afraid to face the Truth about Monica.  But who's to say?   Strange things do happen.

     Before I'd buy what Clinton said, I'd first like to see him test his Courage by jumping into the murky waters of danger and grab a 12-foot crocodile's back and ride him.   Maybe then I might imagine Bill Clinton picking up a gun rather than a Big Mac.
      I guess the difference between talkers and doers is the reason the Croc Hunter and I have become friends.    I watch him often with my grandchildren on television, and even took my six-year-old grandson to see his recently released movie.    Unfortunately, we were nearly the only ones in the empty theater.  There was at least one other person there, for I was sure I saw a pair of feet sticking up some rows in front of us.

      I grew more appreciative this morning.  My wife recently purchased a board game called Crocodile Hunter.   A big, fat, hungry croc, 'Agro', motors around the board and shoves his snout against the wall constraining him.  If his snout hits one of the spring-loaded players sitting on the fence, the player shoots up in the air, ejected from the game temporarily.  
     What I like best about the Croc Hunter is his willingness to face danger   He grabs the world's most poisonous snakes by their tails, and massages their underbellies until they calm down.  He lays down and stares the most frightening creatures in the eyes.

     He wrestles crocs and, with his wife's help, Terri, he puts them in a boat and moves them away from civilization where they will be safe from hunters and those "silly people" who feed them and end up becoming lunch.  He also puts his money where his mouth is.  He donated the proceeds of his recent film to wildlife preservation.
     Unlike a lot of wildlife film makers, Steve doesn't cram politics down people's throats about conservation.  His emphasis is put on respecting the creatures of the earth, not about rallying huge armies in protest against civilization, or issuing tons of guilt and shame on the human race for their vile treatment of animals..   If he makes a point, it's about us learning to live in "the animal world."   If he is political, its about reminding us the "we" make the animals our enemies when "we" encroach upon their ways of life, their habitats.
     I thought about the parallels between the Crocodile Hunter's world, and the world of Terrorism.   How did the two size up, if at all?
     In the Middle East, America is taking an Imperial Colonist's point of view.   We are trying to inject "democracy" in cultures that may or may not be ready for our way of life.  In a way, America is a Crocodile Hunter, wrestling with ancient, prehistoric civilizations.  But, instead of trying to protect their roots, we're trying to modernize them overnight.  We're trying to turn some crocodiles into peaceful house pets over night.  We're trying to accelerate Mother Nature's evolutionary timetable.
      I wondered how the Croc Hunter would see our dilemma.  Would he see us--civilization as we understand it--trying to change the crocodiles of the Middle East's way of life?   Were we encroaching on their habitats, or were they encroaching on ours?
     In his recent movie, Steve pointed out the problem wasn't that the croc had turned from a peaceful, quiet creature into a horrible Terrorist, but rather society was advancing and pushing the nature of the croc.  People were feeding it marshmallows, and, as Steve so deftly put it, the people who fed them began to become marshmallows.
      I wondered if our problems in the Middle East weren't similar.
      The veil being used to be demonize the Middle East Croc is the "threat of nuclear and biochemical weapons of destruction."   But, I wondered,  have those in power in the Middle East simply sharpened their canine teeth to protect themselves from being encroached upon?   Have we fed them so many marshmallows they now want to eat us?
        I found it hard to imagine Iraq or Iran as Colonial Imperialists in disguise, wishing to turn Manhattan and the Western World into marshy, primordial swamp lands.  Instead, I saw them more like vipers who sank their fangs into those who threatened them.   I wondered if the Croc Hunter saw them the same way.
       These questions were sharpened by playing the board game, Crocodile Hunter, with my grandchildren.   I wondered how Steve Irwin would handle the crisis in the Middle East were he in charge of the world.    Would he wrestle Al Queda, tie them up, and take them back home to live in their own environment with fences not to keep them in, but the rest of the world out?  Or, would he cut their throats, and contend that they were unfit and unjust to breathe the same air as modern man?
    Of course, I knew the answer. Or, thought I did.
    The Crocodile Hunter is a "live-and-let-live" kind of guy.    He's more into balance than dominance of one species over another.   And when it comes to the most vicious of Nature's creatures, he has utter respect rather than Fear, Intimidation and Complacency regarding them.  He's into massaging their underbellies and building trust rather than lopping off their heads.

Modern Human and Neanderthal Skulls

     Politically, I'm a Naturalist.   That is, I believe in the final analysis, human beings and beasts aren't divided by much.   I don't think mankind is the Lord Of The World, or that  Nature is our servant.    Perhaps that comes from growing up in Oregon, and studying Indian lore where Native Americans always asked permission of Mother Earth before taking anything, and only took what was needed.
      I also don't believe mankind is as smart or wise as he or she thinks.  We're just little confused children in relation to the rest of the world. 
      We haven't been around that long.  While earth is estimated to be 5-billion-years-old, modern man and woman is estimated to be around 50,000 years old.  Humanoids have been evolving for about 1.8 million years, and we didn't walk on two feet until less than a million years ago, and then, we were more like apes than humans.  We couldn't even talk.    (See Chart below).   

      To give some perspective, the first living organism is claimed to appear about 3.5 billion years ago, and the first animals on earth, about 1.2 billion years past.   Ironically, one of the first animals was the worm.    It makes homo erectus, just 40-50,000 years old, seem like less than a blink in time.  Why would we presume to know more than any other creature?
     We haven't had a lot of time to evolve.   And, we've evolved to the point of such infancy that we can blow up the entire planet, make it radioactive overnight, kill most everything that exists.   I don't know if that's advancement or retardation, but certainly it's not something we want to slap ourselves on the back over.
       What it does indicated is that the primitive versus the civilized is a relatively new concept.   We are looking at it clearly for the first time as a result of September 11.   We are seeing the "uncivilized" Terrorizing the "civilized."
        We are seeing the "meek" inheriting the earth because a few people from an ancient land with little technology can turn civilizations weapons against the civilized.  It's king of like arming all the crocodiles with machine guns.
        And, the irony of it all is that the "Terrorists" in the Middle East and in other lands--those whom we call primitive--have taken the advancements and technology and turned them against those who sought to control and manage them.
         But the irony of "modern man" versus "primal man" doesn't stop there..  If one looks closely at the Middle East, it is the Fountain of Civilization.   Under its soil boils the treasure of the modern world--oil, black gold, the energy that drives the engines of advancement.
          The Middle East pumps most of the oil that feeds the "monsters of civilization," while, paradoxically, remaining ancient, underdeveloped.    It owns the headwaters of civilization--the fuel of prosperity, yet it remains, in so many ways, a "cave dwelling" culture.   If one wishes to argue with this point of view, as the U.S. military how successful they have been in bombing the caves and tunnels in which the Al Queda find sanctuary.

Churchill's crocodile-skin cigar case

      One thing we can be sure of, however, is that the Middle East's skin is thick and leathery, probably not unlike that of the crocodile.    That may account for why so many people in that culture are willing to strap a bomb around their bellies and blow themselves up, or fly airplanes into giant buildings.   The primitive thickness of their skin blinds them to the modern morals.   What the modern world calls Terrorism, the ancient world calls "jihad," the highest form of loyalty and commitment to their way of life.   Perhaps that is why modern society doesn't promote crocodiles for pets, or venomous snakes crawling in the playpen with their little children.  
      Naturalistically, the dispute between Palestine and Israel is similar to trying to steal a mother crocodile's eggs.   The more Israel claims ownership of Palestine, the larger the mouths of the mother crocodiles open and snap at the hands and fingers who reach for their eggs.  Mother Nature operates on the principle that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and the Palestinians claim possession rather than right of ownership.   Telling a mother croc that her nest really belongs to you is not a convincing argument, at least, not to a croc.
     The Crocodile Hunter, I assume, would look at the political aspects of Terrorism as part of the natural order of "creatures" fighting for their lairs against those who tried to take them away, or relocate them, or, ultimately, make them extinct.
     Since motive is the key ingredient behind any crime, Terrorism's motive is generally retaliation against others for some "real" or "perceived" crime.   Some Terrorists simply see modern civilization as it is today a threat to the world, especially Western culture.   That doesn't make them right, but from a Naturalistic point of view, a crocodile point of view, it doesn't make them wrong either.  It just is what it is.  And it leaves only two solutions.  One, cut off the head of the creatures who threaten civilization, or, massage their bellies.
      Terrorism may, in the final accounting, be nothing more than misinterpreted retaliation.    Winston Churchill said:  "Appeasement is feeding an alligator (crocodile) in hopes it will eat you last."  Maybe, just maybe, Al Queda and other Terrorist organizations have decided to bite back, refusing the rush to "evolve" according to the modern world's time


      Remembering that modern man has only evolved over the  past 50,000 years, and only recently created societies attempting to learn to live peacefully with one another's differences, we shouldn't be so shocked that we don't have all the answers at our fingertips.
       Crocodiles are over 200 million years old, about 200 times older than any humanoid form.   Trapped in their genes is the ability to survive while others of their kind perished.   The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, making the crocodile three times more hearty than the biggest and most ferocious of all creatures in earth's history. 

And it wasn't very long ago that man lit his first fire, or scrawled his name on a cave wall.

       So when it comes to taking a gun and shooting Terrorism between the eyes, I'm not sure we can kill something that old, something that primal.   I'm thinking more in terms that we should consider the Crocodile Hunter's approach, wrestling it, rubbing its belly, creating Trust so that it doesn't bite us, and we don't bite it.
       Old Bill Clinton's comment about grabbing up a rifle and dying for Israel seemed like a cry for making Terrorism extinct.   It sounded like he was willing to go cut the throats of the crocodiles rather than rub their bellies.  It seemed he was echoing the U.S. Government's point of view that we are going to stuff civilization down the crocodile's mouth whether he likes it or not.   I didn't hear any words about Vigilance.   I only heard Terrorism must be fought with Terrorism.   I heard there wasn't in room on this planet for the "old" and the "new" to coexist.
       That's why the Crocodile Hunter has more credibility with my grandchildren than the former or present President of the United States--at least on this issue of Terrorism.   Each week, they see the Crocodile Hunter being Vigilant in the face of Terrorism, and, unfortunately, all they hear about Terrorism is the war we are fighting against it.   They don't see a solution, just violence begetting violence.          

Silver Shovel award for sand sculpture contest in Texas

       The contrast isn't healthy.  On one side of the coin, they see this antic-laden Aussie jumping and shouting and loving and respecting creatures that could rank right up there with Osama bin Laden.  But instead of wanting to cut off their heads, he simply respects their origins and tries to assure the children who view them, that despite their natures, they're just "trying to get along."   And, he reinforces that we, modern man, are intruding on their way of life--a life that has been lived for eons.  He promotes Vigilance, not Terrorism.   He warns children to be wary, but to respect their "right to exist."  He creates credibility, because he doesn't attack the Terrorists of Nature, he compares.
       Vigilance takes Courage, Conviction and Right Action to be believed.   It isn't something that one wins because we lop off a few heads.    The idea of reorganizing Homeland Security to appease America's Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies is only truly about sharpening our swords so their clean blades can cut through the thick hides of the crocodiles.  

        I would like to think that each Citizen of Vigilance, Parent of Vigilance and Loved One of Vigilance would take a page out of Steve Irwin's book.    Maybe if we modeled our behavior and attitudes after his, we might teach our children and grandchildren far richer and more sincere lessons about how to deal with Terrorism than by rolling heads down the street.
        Maybe we really need the Crocodile Hunters as head of Homeland Security.    He might be able to charm the snakes of Terrorism away.

Go Aug. 2--AMBER ALERT Marks Era Of Vigilance, Saves Teens from Death

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