ZERO PLUS 1106 DAYS,--New York, NY, Wednesday,
September 22, 2004--I
maintain we are all controlled Terrorists. I learned that
lesson once again yesterday when a herd of adults tried to
'eat' my two-year-old grandson in their mad rush to shove,
push and stomp their way aboard a subway train--even if it
meant stranding a two-year-old in the process.
22, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - President Bush yesterday condemned
the grotesque beheadings of American hostages by Iraqi
terrorists, as another U.S. citizen, Jack Hensley, became
the second in two days to be savagely murdered.
The steadfast president, addressing
the United Nations, vowed he would not allow murderous
"thugs and terrorists" to determine the fate
of Iraq or the United States.
(from NY Post)
within our primal nature strolls the primordial Beast, the
one who, when enraged, lashes out with tongue or fist and
bludgeons those closest to him or her.
who has been around an enraged mother knows she would rip
out the hearts, chew the pieces and spit them into the faces
of anyone who harmed, maimed or injured her child.
there are the sociopaths--the murderers who hunt down the
innocent, torture, mangle, dismember and even behead their
victims on the internet in the name of some cause that civilization
shuns as only an excuse to become a living Beast of Terror.
understand the delicate balance between my Beast of Terror
and my Sentinel of Civilized Vigilance. I understand the need
to control and check my anger, rage, envy, gluttony, sloth,
fear, intimidation, hatred, resentment, prejudice, bigotry
and host of other human flaws that are embossed into the genetic
and emotional chemistry of every human being.
is about learning to manage and control the club. Back in
the Dawn of Time if we were hungry we took our clubs and bashed
in someone's brains and ate their food, just as wild dogs
snarl and growl and slash their fangs at others trying to
capture bite of fallen prey. Survival came first, however
it was attained.
is about learning and managing to control the club
had no moral conscience back then. We were animals, learning
to walk upright. Then, through some mystical event some call
religious and others call evolutionary, our Moral Nature was
began to judge "Right" and "Wrong" and
"Good" and "Bad" and "Just"
and "Unjust" and construct rafts of laws in our
villages that allowed us to coexist and to settle our differences
without killing, maiming or butchering one another.
groups held it a capital offense to kill their own, but found
it just to pillage and plunder others outside "their"
circle with immunity.
millenniums, the world has evolved to what it is today--two
is struggling to be civilized, to exercise fair and just treatment
of others without violence and bloodshed.
other--known specifically as Terrorists--is chopping off people's
heads and splattering the victim's blood on the Internet so
that millions might view the horror of human life being cruelly
ended by the razor's edge of a curved knife slicing through
an innocent person's jugular.
there ever was an example of the Beast of Terror versus the
Sentinels of Vigilance, this polarization of human diametric's
is as blatant as it gets.
between the ends of poles of Terrorism and Vigilance lays
many degrees, elevations and declinations of acts that either
are moving toward Terrorism's most ugly nature or away from
it toward Vigilance's most secure and safe end.
mother or father who tells a child they wish he or she hadn't
been born is approaching the same horrible degree as the Terrorist
who sawed the neck from the body of our latest beheading victim.
Armstrong before his beheading by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's
Jihad and Unification
pronounced, the child of the parent is learning how to treat
his or her own children--with disrespect, with hatred and
bigotry and prejudice, with selfishness, so that the legacy
of the Human Beast might spawn in the child later in life,
and his or her actions toward others might be considered "just
due" for what he or she received.
there is the chance that an abused child--however horribly
that child might have been treated--to vow to never treat
others as he or she was treated. Human moral nature has a
counterbalance worked into its structure that does not presuppose
the eternal damnation of any soul to become what its parents
were--good or bad.
Berg was beheaded in May, 2004 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
There are children
who come from loving families who, despite all the sound moral
training, elect through the rights of Free Will, to become
Beasts of Terror, to rebuke the ideals that civilization can
meld its differences and exist without ripping out the entrails
of one another over disputes.
But this takes a mission that is far greater than the selfish
need to survive.
Not many people today--even after two million years of evolution
since the dawn of the homo sapiens (meaning "wise man"
in Greek)--have risen above the first rung of the evolutionary
There are those who will Terrorize others to save their own
skins, in a range of ways that can all be traced back to the
era when humans clubbed one another to get what they wanted.
Our earth, estimated to be 5 billion years old, has been spawning
life for over 3 billion of those years. The first life forms
were bacteria, single cells. Some 600 million years ago, multi
cells were formed, discovered in fossils by modern scientists.
Humans, as we know them today, didn't start colonizing the
earth until about 30,000 years ago. Historically, its been
a short journey to civilization.
And, the vestiges of the Beast of Terror still exist.
who are too busy for hugs or love are examples of "Degrees
of the Beast of Terror"
off heads is only one small example. A parent who is "too
busy" to give his or her child a hug or love is another.
And, one of the more cruel of all is the New York Subway Commuter.
This is my Neanderthal, my club-swinging Terrorist.
At least, that was
the case yesterday.
I was reminded that
humans haven't progressed much from the Beast Within when
it comes to riding the subway. In the dark, dank, sweat-reeking
caverns of New York's vermiculating concrete underground wombs
exists a creature as inconsiderate and as blood-thirsty as
any Terrorist blazing the headlines with a sword poised over
the neck of a captive.
This revelation unfolded
as was reveling in the joys of my grandson's company.
Sunday past, I had
spent a day with a little boy dying of leukemia. That experience
reminded me of the fragility of life, and the need to consume
the soul of those you love.
I decided to be Grandfather
of Vigilance for the day, and take my two-year-old Angus on
a tour of New York City with his G-Pa--just the two of us--Big
Old G-Pa (265 pounds) and small but sturydy Angus (35 pounds).
We began our tour
early in the morning.
Angus so he could see a busy construction site
I held him on my shoulders
so he could peer over a giant fence where construction workers
were tearing down one building and preparing the soil for
the erection of another sky scraper.
We went to Bryant Park where Angus rolled in the ivy, watched
the water falling from the fountain, chased pigeons and rode
on the merry-go-round.
We enjoyed a shoe shine on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue by a
man who has shined more shoes in New York City than most people
accumulate eye blinks in a lifetime.
We rode the Ferris Wheel at Toys 'R Us, the world's largest,
at Times Square and spent nearly two hours playing with the
fabulous Thomas Train set the world's largest toy store keeps
in tip-top shape for parents and grandparents to bring their
wards to enjoy.
I was inhaling a day with my grandson in his Era of Innocence
so that I might never forget the happiness and joy that youth
brings to life. I also washed from my mind the idea of the
Beast of Terror, the threats to the security of my children
and grandchildren, and wallowed in the NOW of a two-year-old's
exploration of a world ripe with imagination, hope and dreams.
So when I struggled with the stroller, my back pack, the bag
of McDonalds and Angus to squeeze onto the "F"-Train
to head down from 42nd Street to the East Village, I was awakened
to the reality that the Beast of Terror was alive and well
in bowels of New York's underground.
It was rush hour,
just past 5 p.m. Harried commuters were shoving and pushing
to clamber aboard the crowded subways.
Angus and I positioned
ourselves at the head of the train, hopeful the car we selected
would not be jammed with humanity. We were the first on the
platform as the train came to a stop and the subway doors
It was a sardine's
view. People were packed arm pit to arm pit. With a stroller
in one hand, a bag of McDonald's dangling, Angus in the other
hand and my back pack bulging with diapers and other two-year-old
management tools, I started to squeeze aboard.
barely managed to squeeze into...
A herd shoved their
way ahead, including one very large man, pushing us aside.
I knew the next train and the next would be as crowded, so
I positioned Angus ahead of me, blocked the door and started
to push my way in with the little guy. The large man who had
oozed his way ahead of us on the platform looked at me and
said: "There isn't any room." I sneered: "Oh,
yeah, there would have been if you hadn't shoved ahead of
this little kid." At which time I forced him back with
my chest so that Angus could safely get on.
I have to admit that my primal nature was bubbling to the
surface. I happened to be wearing my Marine Corps T-Shirt,
and the "trained killer" in me was percolating.
Angus was clutching my legs like a frightened little monkey
being attacked by giant baboons.
already stuffed subway car
I held my breath.
The next stop, 34th Street, came. As the doors opened people
shoved to get out. I had no intention of moving out as I had
the stroller, Angus and my pack, and by the time I tried to
remove myself from the subway doors, Angus could have been
Instead, I shoved to get on so I could out of the way. From
the crowd of heathen travelers a large, large, large woman
with a mouth the size of a watermelon bellowed: "If you
get off the train you'd give us all room to exit."
She snarled out the words.
My Beast roared:
"Shut your mouth."
It was a guttural, impolite, uncivilized response, of that
But I didn't embellish it with expletives or disparaging comments
on the fact that the lady consumed the space of four passengers,
and rather than take the subway she should call the local
beef fright company and have her voluminous adipose tissue
moved by meat hooks from one location to another.
No, I didn't say what I thought.
Angus was clutching me so tightly I thought the circulation
in my legs would go away.
Beast was telling those who challenged me or Angus.....
I looked around.
All the adults around me pretended not to see the little guy.
Here was this kid, compressed, stuffed, clutching his G-Pa
and no one was offering him safety, security. Finally, after
four or five minutes, a man sitting on a precious subway seat
offered it to Angus.
I caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of my eye.
A big man was edging toward the seat being offered to Angus,
willing to steal it from him. I glared at him, that deep killer
look that Marines are trained to give to anyone or anything
that gets in their way. I even let the corner of my upper
lip snarl upward--that Beast in me telling him if he made
one move toward the seat I was going to rip out his eyes and
piss on his brain.
was going to rip out their eyes and piss on their brains
I thanked the man
who relinquished his seat and placed Angus on it. I thanked
the man again and looked around at the subway commuters. I
thought about Terrorism. I thought about how many people blind
themselves to the role of being a Sentinel of Vigilance.
Why did the people shove past Angus to fill up the car and
not give him berth? Why did they yell inconsiderately, more
concerned with their own ingress and egress than in a young
child's sense of community support?
Why didn't someone immediately give Angus a seat instead of
making him clutch my leg for 2,400 seconds before someone
begrudgingly gave up a space?
Why did an adult try to take Angus's seat?
When I got
off the train I saw a herd of Neanderthals of Terrorism
exiting from the subway
By the time I got
off the train, I saw only a herd of Beasts pouring from the
subway. They were not humans. They were the Neanderthals of
Terrorism, hunched over with clubs, hairy faces, snorting
and grunting, swatting at anything in their way.
They were the Terrorists disguised as human beings.
Something happened to them when they entered the Bowels of
the Subway. Their genes regressed back to primordial times.
Above, where civilization existed--or alleged to--it didn't
below. In the caverns of the subways they all became Beasts
of Terror, selfish, self-centered animals who would trample
a little kid in a mad rush to get home an extra thirty seconds.
And what difference was there between their actions and the
beheading actions of a Terrorist?
Minor degrees, I thought. Minor degrees.
Angus clutched me the rest of the way home
I clutched Angus the
rest of the way home and he clutched me. But, he was far too
young to know what had just happened, that adults had threatened
him, tried to steal from him, and probably would have eaten
him if they were starving.
Where is the line?
I knew only one thing for sure, and that was that unless we
struggle to be Vigilant the Beast of Terror will overwhelm
us with his Fear, Intimidation and Complacency. He will eat
our children. And, he will turn us into cannibals...or Terrorists.
The Sentinels of Vigilance are our reminders that we cannot
eliminate the Beast Within, but we can manage it.
My Beast Within came to the surface in the subway in angry
retaliation for inconsiderate selfishness by others toward
a child. I don't know if I'm any better than those I chide,
but I do know that if we all stop and think about what Terrorism
is--is isn't' only about someone cutting off someone's head
in some far-off land.
It's also about shoving a little kid out of the way to get
on the subway.