Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
September 27 - Ground Zero Plus 745
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Friday... February 1, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 143
Expecting the Unexpected
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City--I expect the unexpected from Terrorism. I have to. Otherwise,
I'll ignore its presence, and go about life like it didn't exist.
I awoke to the news of Terrorists threatening to attack nuclear
power plants, to a Wall Street Journal captive being threatened with
execution if Terrorist demands were not met, and a headline about computer
Unfortunately, the threats seemed like invisible bullets winging
past my ear. I remember in Vietnam the first time bullets snapped and
crackled and exploded by my ear, I shook with fear. My mortality was at
risk. After being in a few battles, you acquire a sense of
invincibility--some might call it complacency others, courage--where you
don't believe the bullet is coming your way even though lots of dead bodies
are splattered around you.
The Terrorism threats vomiting off the newscasters' lips seemed
to sound like noxious mosquitoes rather than angry killer wasps. I
listened hard, trying to rally the emotional vigilance to feel afraid or
concerned or have the desire to rush around preparing for the worst.
Where would people
go today in a nuclear threat?
Oddly, I have been taking
pictures of fallout shelters in New York. They are hidden little symbols,
usually covered with soot and dirt from misuse, or no use, and make me
wonder what a city of eight-million would do in a nuclear threat. Where
would people go?
I grew up in the nuclear threat of post World War II, and have
experience as a child crawling under my desk and pulling my shirt up over my
neck so I'm prepared. (Light humor intended).
I have been intending to find a website listing all the fallout
shelters in New York City, and just out of interest, visiting them to see if
you can get in them. The two I saw had locks on them, and a buzzer, and I
suspect they have been converted into apartments.
Nuclear warnings are also a burr under my saddle. I went to a
coalition on terrorism meeting not to recently, and suggested the coalition
provoke the city to practice nuclear alerts. My point was most people
didn't even know what a wailing siren meant, or, what to do if it went
off. I'm sure the city of New York isn't so sure either.
These thoughts shot through my mind and then fell to the earth
like a spent bullet, plopping harmlessly, with no impact.
I wondered how many people were tuning out the "terrorism news?"
How many were overloaded with threats? How many had decided the "war was
The War on Terror
will never be over
As a Vigilance Warrior, I
know the war on Terror will never be over. Terrorism has, as I believe,
many forms, and if Osama bin Laden doesn't fit the bill then perhaps overdue
bills, or a doctor's appointment to check an irregular heartbeat, or a
child's soaring fever will shake one's foundations. Terror walks in many
shadows. That's why I need to be "ready for anything, counting on
nothing." And, to "expect the unexpected." If I don't, my Shield of
Vigilance drops down--I start to tune out the news, and want to live life
free from scares and worries that seem far too distant from me to be worth
Fortunately, because of the Pledge of Vigilance, I am aware of
Terror in the world--especially my world--my selfish little center of the
earth. I know that fear, intimidation and complacency can drive me into a
cave from whence I might timidly peek out but never boldly venture far from
its dank womb.
Maybe that terror is about going to the doctor for a checkup
because I'm afraid of what he might find, or, facing up to some issue within
myself I'd rather avoid, or trying to build up wealth in a rat race of just
trying to pay the bills.
I remind myself that my
complacent attitude toward media "Terrorism News" parallels my outlook about
dealing with my own "Terrorism." If I ignore the internal emotional
"fears," "intimidations," and "complacencies" which haunt me as a human
being, they only grow. I must remind myself that mosquitoes can become
bumble bees, and morph into killer wasps which hunt you down and can
viciously sting you to death.
I cocked a Vigilant ear to the news. I refocused my thinking.
I knew I must listen. If I am a Parent and Grandparent of
Vigilance, I need to keep my eyes on the horizon. I need not only to look
at nuclear power plants being attacked, but what about the elan vital, the
life energy of a child attacked by parents or or children or teachers who
depreciate or abuse the child, rob it of its will and energy to evolve.
While it might be hard for me to whip up a vision of another
hi-jacked plane smashing into a nuclear power plant, I could see a mother
shoving her five children under the water of the family bathtub, drowning
them one by one. But Andrea Yates had done that to her children, snuffed
out their lives because of her own Terror Within.
Indian Point Nuclear
Power Plant in New York
For me to
accept the role of a Warrior of Vigilance, a Parent of Vigilance, a
Grandparent of Vigilance, who, as a single individual could have an impact
on the world of Terrorism--I needed to think in Andrea Yates' shoes. I
needed to understand that if she had been a Parent of Vigilance, and fought
her own fears, her own intimidations and her own complacencies, then perhaps
her children would be alive today. Perhaps TIME magazine wouldn't have to
devote page after page in their Jan. 28 issue trying to "figure out" why
something far more horrid than a Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,
happened on June 20, 2001, when Andrea Yates hunted down her children and
shoved them under the bathtub water.
I like to think that those who become a Parent of Vigilance just
might shift their thinking from themselves to their children, and might
fight the fears, intimidations and complacencies that haunt some.
So when I heard the nuclear plant threat, and my mind started to
refute it as another media hype, I shifted my thinking. What if the
nuclear energy of a child was attacked by a neglectful parent, would I be
I didn't think so.
I nodded at the news. "Thanks," I said, "for reminding me to ready
for anything, counting on nothing....and to expect the unexpected."