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OVERVIEW: The world famous painting by Edvund Munch, "The Scream," was stolen by armed robbers with ski masks last week in Oslo, Norway. But what does the painting really mean? Is it a symbol that we all walk the tightrope of madness, Terror and self-destruction? Or, does it mean we can all find ways to use Vigilance to protect us from the "haunting howl" the painting illustrates? Find out how to manage your own "Scream" with the Sentinels of Vigilance.

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1078 DAYS--New York, NY, Monday, August 23, 2004--It’s not something you can just sell at a swap meet. Everybody in the world—with the exception of those tucked quietly in the deepest womb of a primordial rain forest—has some knowledge of The Scream, Edvund Munch’s world-famous painting of human terror.

The painting depicts an emaciated man howling on a bridge, haunted by demons that no one but he can see. The Expressionist icon is valued between $50 and $100 million, but experts contend it is priceless.

The painting "The Scream" was stolen last week
The painting "The Scream" was stolen by Terror Thieves

The armed robbers stuck guns in the face of museum guards at 11 a.m. with more than 80 witnesses, cut the wires holding two famous pieces of Munch's art and then sped away in a station wagon in Oslo, Norway. The vehicle and broken glass from the frames were found later, but no sign of the robbers.

Ironically, a decade earlier, another group of robbers stole The Scream from the Munch Museum and tried to ransom it back. They were caught in a sting operation conducted by Norway officials in concert with Scotland Yard.

Munch, a recluse who lived in Oslo in a large house but only occupied two cluttered rooms, never sold his paintings. He bequeathed them upon his death in 1894 to the city of Oslo. City officials built the Munch museum to house the paintings.

The Munch painting thieves aren't just art thieves—they are Terror Thieves.

They stole the symbol of Terror itself. Munch's infamously famous painting reflects the inner Terror that humans try to suppress, bury, ignore, deny to survive in the world's reality.

Yet the painting has found its way into the mainstream of modern life. Its likeness appears on coffee cups, t-shirts and a myriad of different venues as a subtle reminder that we all walk on the razor's edge between civilized balance with a world of constant emotional threat and the unraveling of all our mental health defenses.

The Scream isn't about what goes on outside our world, but more about the containment of our Terror. It expresses the "tipping point" when we reach a point where we can no longer restrain the Beast of Internal Terror and it escapes in howling madness.

Munch's "The Scream" reflects inner terror
Edvund Munch's "The Scream" reflects inner terror

The bridge depicted in the painting represents that archway between normality and insanity, and the people walking across in the background symbolize those who have conquered the Beast of Terror's pressures while the howling madness of the main focus reminds the viewer that within each of us is our own "Scream" doing push-ups, waiting for that moment when the world's pressure cooker explodes and we are defenseless to constrain its ejection.

Munch's painting was popularized by placing  the image on T-shirts,etc.
Munch's painting was popularized by placing 'his scream' on T-shirts, etc.

Human madness takes many forms. It can be subtle or horrible. Adolph Hitler represents historically one of the great madmen of all times, followed closely by Nero, and, some might include Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in such a grouping.

But those who percolate to the surface of human madness such as the mother who drove her car into a lake with her three children inside to drown them are overshadowed by the countless tens of thousands who live in the "Quiet Scream."

These are the people who suffer daily from the effects of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Triads of Terrorism--and hang their heads as they walk, feel as though their lives are a rut, who find it difficult to look proudly in the mirror at their reflection, who feel they are losers and that the world has gifted all others but them.

Crippled souls suffer from Fear, Intimidation and become their own "Quiet Screams"
Crippled souls suffering from daily Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies become their own "Quiet Screams"

These crippled souls become the "Quiet Screams" that truly represents Munch's self-portrait of himself and all others who allow their Beast of Terror to dominate their Sentinels of Vigilance.

The United States felt the power of The Scream on September 11, 2001. I was at Ground Zero that day and remember the look that Munch captured reflected on thousands of faces that stampeded toward safety when the Twin Towers collapsed.

Their eyes were glazed in shock and fear, some faces were twisted in a death mask as the world seemed to come to an end and each person faced the threat of the final moment. Next to me women screamed in guttural agony--"We're all going to die! We're all going to die!"

In a moment of horror where people are powerless over life and death, the defenses of human conviction come under severe attack. There is no room for Complacency in such a moment. One either stands up to the Face of Fear or crumbles.

The United States felt the power of The Scream of The Beast Of Terror on NineEleven
The United States felt the power of The Scream of The Beast of Terror on NineEleven

Munch's The Scream illustrates how we crumble, how the bridge between our internal sanity and our internal insanity can collapse when we least expect it.

The reality is that human character is formed from birth. Children who are taught to face their fears have different constitutions than those who are fed the Beast of Terror.

A Parent of Vigilance, a Love One of Vigilance, has learned that we must all be on guard against the Beast of Terror, and that as adults we have a primary purpose to pass on to our children and loved ones the power to stand up to Fear, Intimidation and Complacency from within.

We learn to recognize the Beast Within by admitting to the presence of it, and understanding that those feelings of inadequacy, of self defeat, of unworthiness or being lesser than others, are nothing more than the gestation of our own "Quiet Scream," and, that if we do not check them, if we allow them to grow, they become our living monsters, breeding within us until one day we stand on a bridge, twist our faces into a mask of emotional pain, and hurl out a Scream as Munch so aptly captured.

That's why our first obligation in life is to take the Vow of Vigilance and defend ourselves against our own "Scream."

We cannot pass on to our children...
We cannot pass on to our children.....

We cannot pass on to others what we have not ourselves learned to manage. The Pledge of Vigilance is the first step. By taking it, we set ourselves up for the Vow of Vigilance. We admit to ourselves that we need the support of the Sentinels of Vigilance to manage our own "Quiet Scream."

...what we have not learned to manage
...what we have not learned to manage

When we continue daily to reaffirm the Pledge, it becomes a Vow of Vigilance. By reaffirming the Pledge, we are affirming our commitment not just to the management of our own Beast of Terror, but more importantly, to protecting our children, our loved ones from the Beast's wrath.

We connect to our children, to our loved ones, by learning to face Fear with Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and Complacency with Right Actions that benefit future generations. This last element keeps our efforts from being selfish, and fuels us when we think we have "done our best" and need not do more.

Complacency, the primary food of the Beast of Terror, is symbolized by the robbers who donned ski masks and ripped away the priceless piece of Munch's art. Ten years earlier the museum was robbed, but no additional security was put in place.

Critics of the museum question why the officials left the painting vulnerable to Terrorist attacks.

The same could be said of the United States regarding September 11, 2001. Why did, after Pearl Harbor, the United States reach a point of Complacency where it believed it was exempt from future Terrorism?

On a much smaller yet more populace scale, what makes a parent think his or her child is not being attacked daily by countless forms of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency? What makes a parent think a child has the power to single handedly conjure the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions to fend off his or her "Quiet Screams."

This is compounded by a parent who looks in the mirror and doesn't feel that the reflection he or she sees is worthy enough, good looking enough, rich enough, attractive enough, gifted enough, happy enough.

The mirror is our ultimate measurement of our self image. To do a self-image inventory all we need do is peer at our reflection and ask: "What do I like most about myself? What do I like least?"

If there are more qualities one doesn't like than those atttributes liked--emotionally as well as physically--then the Beast of Terror has domination.

A child suffers the same "Quiet Scream." But, the child does not have the ability to defend himself or herself from Munch's portrait. The hard shell of reality hasn't yet calloused itself.

Parents of Vigilance arm themselves and their children against THe Beast of Terror
Munch's painting is a message to the Parents of Vigilance to arm themselves and their children against their Screams and The Beast of Terror

This is where the Parent of Vigilance can become the greatest ally to the child. He or she can walk on the Bridge of Munch, reach out, and hold the child so that the child's "Scream" cannot become the child's sole possession.

A Parent of Vigilance is quick to share with a child or loved one that we all have those feelings, but it is what we do with them that matters. If we can conjure One Percent more Courage, One Percent more Conviction, and take One Percent more Right Actions in the face of our own "Quiet Scream" we have the opportunity to trump the Beast of Terror's efforts to render us powerless, victims, serfs of his Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

Hopefully, the robbers of Munch's painting will look at what they have stolen not as a famous painting, but as a symbol to all the children of the world that they do not have to Scream. Perhaps they will realize that the painting is a message to the Parents of Vigilance to protect their children and loved ones from leaving a child stranded on the Bridge of Howl, where no one hears the pain and suffering that rushes out from the dank caves of the Internal Beast.

Edvund Munch didn't paint "The Scream" to have it stolen. He painted it for all the Parents of Vigilance to remind them their children do not have to stand on a bridge and howl with haunting agony.

Walk with your child in the Sunlight of Vigilance
Walk with your child in the Sunlight of Vigilance

Instead, they can walk in the sunlight of Vigilance, as the couple behind the howling face is depicted.

They can be free from the threat of Terror, guarded by the Pledge of Vigilance.

Protect yourself and your loved ones from your own "Scream."

Take the Pledge of Vigilance today. Edvund Munch would be pleased if you did.


Go To August 21 Story "The Terror Of A Summer's Night At Lincoln Center"

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