WHICH CHILD WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE EATEN BY THE BEAST OF TERROR?
GROUND ZERO PLUS 1090 DAYS, New York, NY, September 6, 2004--FIVE DAYS TO GROUND ZERO--I awoke again screaming last night. I saw the horrible face of the Beast of Terror one more ugly time.
He was standing in front of a mother in Russia with a two- and six-year-old, her children.
The Beast of Terror told the mother she had to pick one of her children to escape the horror of death and destruction that lurked around the corner.
It was the worst choice any parent could make.
The Terrorist, despite the begging's of the mother, refused to let both her children go leave with her. The group of Terrorists had seized the school in Russia, holding upwards of 1,500 parents, teachers, staff and children hostage. They had bombs strapped on their bodies and planted explosives throughout the school, threatening to blow it up and kill children if they were attacked.
In an early sign of conciliation, the Terrorists offered to give some hostages freedom. The mother was called upon to choose which child to take with her to safety, the one with only two years of life or the other with six years of life.
With great pain and reluctance, she chose the two-year-old.
The six-year-old died in the battle with the Terrorists when Russian troops opened fire on the Terrorists after a bomb exploded igniting the death of hundreds of hostages. The school's roof collapsed in the gymnasium where hundreds of children and adults were huddling in sweltering heat without food or water.
It would be an easy choice for any parent to offer his or her life in return for that of a child. But it is an impossible choice to chose which child to keep and which child to let the Beast of Terror eat.erted sense of righteousness of a Terrorist who forced the parent to choose which child to saveTerrorist
It isn't even a choice.
It cannot be considered one, for that would assume the parent loved one child more than the other, or that in some way the parent was responsible for the horror of knowing he or she was responsible for the death of the child not chosen.
I cannot fathom the anguish of the parent who had to make that choice, or the twisted, perverted sense of righteousness of a Terrorist who forced the parent into living with the thought that he or she condemned one child to save another.
I heard about a story in Russia at the turn of the century when a woman was escaping her home during a freezing winter storm. A pack of wolves were following her sled, ready to attack the fleeing mother and her children. I believe she had two or three.
There was little question the wolves would eat them all, for they were starving as were the mother and children who were heading toward a town and safety.
The story told how the mother, in order to insure the survival of two children, shoved her firstborn out of the sled, feeding him or her to the wolves so that she the other children could escape.
My insides shudder to think of having to make such a decision, for it seems in the sanity of my safety that I could never force myself to chose one child over another. But Terrorism--either created by nature or by human malevolent behavior--has a way of testing us in ways none of us can imagine.
I am sure that all who read about the woman in Russia several days ago who had to chose one child over another in the Face of Terrorism had a similar response. Inside parents aware of the story, a Gordian Knot strangled their hearts and souls as they tried to imagine themselves in a similar situation, forced to give one child life and condemn the other.
This story of ultimate human revulsion is a symbol of how we must all sharpen our personal parental Swords of Vigilance.
We can learn from the despicable act of the Terrorist and ask ourselves: "Do we choose to push one child to the wolves by ignorance, neglect or complacency in our daily lives as parents?"
Children vy for the attention, love and respect of their parents. Whether the child is one or has brothers and sisters, there is a yearning, an eagerness, a competitiveness within us all to be loved "the most."
Loving each child as a separate, unique and distinct gift unlike any other is not an easy task for any parent.
The other day I heard a man talking about the pain of his childhood. His parents were constantly comparing him to others, using statements such as: "Why can't you be like so-and-so?"
The child--now a man--related the anguish of being cleaved from his parents' love by those statements. He wasn't "good enough" in their eyes, and in his heart was a giant hole, a vacuum where love had been sucked out of him and transferred to another who wasn't even a sibling.
I listened intently wondering if there was much difference between the woman who shoved her child off the sled into the pack of hungry wolves, or the mother who had to choose which child to pick from the school where the Terrorists held them captive last week.
I decided there was a difference.
Both involved duress. The mothers were facing the choice of life over death for the other children. While no salve can ever sooth the wounds to the souls of these mothers, there is dispensation for such acts as long as the goal was that there was no other choice. Having no choice is not a choice. That's the meaning of duress.
But a parent who says to a child: "I wish you were like..." is tossing the child to the wolves, or shoving the child into the Beast of Terror, by choice. This parent is slicing the child in half, chopping it up and selling it off.
There are parents who are so busy with their own lives they turn their children over to the Beast of Terror. They let their children talk, act and revolt in ways that confirm to the child he or she isn't loved.
The youths that walked into the Columbine High School and shot fellow students and teachers in Colorado came from "successful" families. One of the Terrorists was the son of a lawyer.
But, the child felt unloved, unwanted, alienated by fellow students. The only reason the child felt disenfranchised from life itself was because the parents failed to shape, direct and reinforce the child's self-image. Had the child come from a family of overflowing love and affection for his unique self, the odds that he would seek to destroy the rest of the world around him would probably not have percolated to the surface.
Parental Complacency regarding the inner workings of a child's heart and soul leads to a dangerous point where a child feels he or she has been "tossed to the wolves."
Parents who abuse children physically, sexually or emotionally are shoving their children into the Beast of Terror's jaws. Most of these parents refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, chalking up a child's behavior to "Aw, that's the way kids are..." and then shuffling off to serve themselves and their needs with a blind eye to the child's actions as cries from the crib--a yearning to be hugged and loved and treated as special are unattended.
The killing of a child's self worth comes in many subtle forms to a Parent of Complacency. "I wish you were..." are words that lead a child into the jaws of the Beast of Terror. "Why can't you...." pave the path.
There are horrible words also such as: "I wish you were never born..." And, "You'll never amount to anything..." Or, the jesting comment, "Too bad you're so dumb..." And the proverbial, "Why can't you be more like...."
If a parent thinks about these words long and hard, they are hands shoving the child off the sled into the snarling fangs of the starving wolves. They callous the child's thirst for love and make the child feel alone in the dark caves of self worthlessness.
These orphans of love and care look in the mirror and see ugliness.
Many survive the lambasting of their self image, but carry that scar into their lives, huddling in the dark recesses of their self unworthiness, always cowering in the shadow of their implanted Beast of Terror that they are unworthy of love, and therefore never know how to express it to themselves or to anyone else.
Sadly, they transfer their pain to their children, unconscious that their comments, attitudes and opinions create cave-ins upon the soul of their children who retreat into the caves of the mind to escape the lashes to the soul of unworthiness. The darkness in the caves often become despair and disillusion, and the children become "losers," or "failures," or, live in denial that they are trapped in their own darknesses and become eternal "victims" where everyone uses them as doormats, kicking, shoving and berating their self worth throughout life until death, drugs, alcohol or any form of escape seems better than taking the personal responsibility to dig out of the cave-in and find fresh, clean, air to breathe from the inside out.
That's what Nine Eleven was ultimately all about.
That's what the recent Terrorist attack on the Russian school was all about.
It was about each of us becoming Parents and Citizens of Vigilance. The attacks on our external world are symbols of our need to fight our internal Beasts of Terror.
Terrorism is about the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that become the staple of Terrorism. The more we live in Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, the bigger and stronger our internal Beasts become until we either simply give up fighting or we are forced to choose to escape.
The mothers in Russia who had to choose between one child and the other were examples of the duress of Terrorism.
If we look at Nine Eleven as we might a gun to our children's or loved one's heads, we realize we must make a choice.
"Will we continue to bury our heads in the Sand of Complacency or will we pull them out and fight back with Vigilance?"
There is only one way we can guard ourselves from driving our children into the jaws of the Beast of Terror in subtle or egregious ways. That is to take a Vow of Vigilance and stand up to the Beast.
We must teach our children how to overcome Fear with Courage, to displace Intimidation with Conviction, and to always shove Complacency to the side in favor of doing what is right for the future of the Children's Children's Children.
That means we must first look in the mirror and expel the Beast of Terror's grip on our own self worthlessness.
We must first stop being victims.
We must first stop our Complacency and look the Beast in the eye and deny its power over us.
That means we must check our tongues.
Our tongues lash out ugly statements--often couched in subtle invectives that impale others with their twisted meanings. "I wish you were.... Why can't you be... How come you don't...." all demean a child or another adult by denying them affection. They are the fangs of the Beast, sinking deep into those around us and causing them to recoil into deeper, darker, danker caves.
The more than 3,000 people who died on Nine Eleven, and the hundreds who died in Russia, and the thousands who die each day at the hands of brutal, physical Terrorism are the result of Emotional Terrorism.
If we track back the acts of a Terrorist, we will find Parents of Complacency, or Parents of Hatred, or Parents of Fear, or Parents of Intimidation, or Parents of Abuse shaping the future Terrorists' attitudes and opinions.
In all cases, love will be absent.
In all cases, the belief in what's right for the future of all children will be void, for if a Parent of Vigilance imparts only one message to his or her children, it is to respect the rights of future generations.
That cannot be accomplished by Terrorizing the current generation.
With only a few days left before the third anniversary of Nine Eleven, we can be assure of one thing--Terrorism is here to stay.
We can also take a lesson from the Terrorism in Russia, and renew or establish better tools of parenting our children. We can start seeing our children and loved ones as people seeking to find their ways out of the Cave of Terror where life has a habit of shoving us all.
We can reach out the hand of the Sentinel of Vigilance and help those who are willing to extract themselves from the jaws and claws of their own self-imposed Terrorism. We do this by teaching ourselves to have the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions that benefit other generations.
It begins with a Vow and Pledge of Vigilance.
It ends when our children pass that Vigilance on to their children.
Take the Pledge today. A mother in Russia will be grateful.