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Overview: I took my two-year-old grandson out for a day on New York City yesterday. I was rejoicing in his innocence and his joy of life. We had a glorious day until I climbed aboard the subway and the people turned into Beheading Beasts of Terror, willing to eat my grandson to get a seat. I was reminded, despite all my efforts to be a Sentinel of Vigilance, that Terrorism lives in the bowels of us all. My grandson's clutching hand was its signature.

GROUND 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.

President Bush urges U.N. to fight terror as fiends behead 2nd American
September 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)

Deep 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.

Anyone 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.

Then 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.

I 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.

Civilization 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.

Civilization is about learning and managing to control the club
Civilization is about learning and managing to control the club

We 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 born.

We 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.

Some groups held it a capital offense to kill their own, but found it just to pillage and plunder others outside "their" circle with immunity.

Over millenniums, the world has evolved to what it is today--two worlds.

One is struggling to be civilized, to exercise fair and just treatment of others without violence and bloodshed.

The 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.

If 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.

But 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.

The 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.

Family of Jack Hensley who was beheaded following Armstrong
Family of Jack Hensley who was beheaded following Armstrong by the al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq
Eugene Armstrong before his beheading by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group
Eugene Armstrong before his beheading by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group
Jihad and Unification

More 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.

Conversely, 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.

Nick Berg was beheaded in May, 2004 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Nick 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 ladder.

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.

Parents who are too busy for hugs or love are examples of "Degrees of the Beast of Terror"
Parents who are too busy for hugs or love are examples of "Degrees of the Beast of Terror"

Terrorists chopping 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.

I held Angus so he could see a busy construction site
I held 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 opened.

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.

We barely managed to squeeze into...
We 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.

...the already stuffed subway car
...the 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 trampled.

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 I admit.

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.

My Beast was telling those who challenged me or Angus...
My 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.

...I was going to rip out their eyes and piss on their brains
...I 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
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.

Little Angus clutched me the rest of the way home
Little 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.

Go To Yesterday's Story:
"Sweet Silvery Sounds Of F-14s Slicing Through The Sky- A Delusion Or Sentinel Of Vigilance?"


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