ZERO PLUS 1144 DAYS,--New York, NY, Monday,
October 30, 2004--Thomas
Jefferson came to life last night on the floor of United Nations
General Assembly. Simultaneously, Osama
bin Laden was reborn via a video tape released at the
same time warning America to leave Islam alone and stop trying
to impose democracy on it or more Terrorism would be on its
My wife and I attended
a special lecture at the United Nations....
of these events conspired last night when my wife and I attended
a special lecture sponsored by the United Nations Society
of Writers on the Vision of Thomas Jefferson at the United
.......on the vision of
were seated in the U.N. General Assembly Hall where nations
from all over the world seek to find ways to insure peace
and prosperity for all six billion residents of this planet.
We sat in the seats of the ambassadors of Afghanistan and
Albania, right next to Zimbabwe.
was a fitting setting for two of the world's experts on Thomas
Jefferson to discuss the role Jefferson played in the formation
of democracy both then and now.
was a ripe day of international historic events. The first
was the the signing of the European Economic Union Constitution
by 25 European nations in Rome.
1957, the movement toward the unification of Europe under
one flag has been underfoot. Yesterday, as in 1787 when the
thirteen U.S. states signed its Constitution, Europe launched
its role as the second "democratic union."
was a monumental salute to the framers of the U.S. Constitution
and, specifically to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration
of Independence, which, many claim, is the blueprint for modern
second historical event that happened yesterday was the release
of a five-minute video tape by Osama bin Laden, mastermind
behind the September 11, 2001 Terorist attack on America.
his address, bin Laden once again warned "democracy"
to keep its nose out of Islamic business or face the wrath
of Terrorism as it did in 2001. As though supporting all the
principles that Thomas Jefferson stood for, Osama bin Laden
spoke directly to the American people.
said: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or
Bush or Al Qaeda; your security is in your own hands."
bypassing the two candidates for President of the United States,
bin Laden was telling American citizens that each was responsible
for the future security of their nation, their home, their
neighborhood, their family. In a bizarre way, Osama bin Laden
was giving the power of "peace" and "security"
back to the people. He was telling Americans that government
was powerless, but they had the power to control their destiny.
Jefferson dealt with the Terrorism of the Barbary pirates
had his day with Terrorism while President of the United States
from 1800 to 1808. He sent the U.S. Marines to deal with pirates
of the Barbary Coast. The "barbarians" stopped merchant
ships and Terrorized them for bounty, and, if the ships didn't
stop, they were blown out of the water.
his core, Jefferson was a pacifist. That is, he recognized
war as a waste of life and resources, and, he believed that
if people sought the best interests of their nations and peoples,
there were ways to work out any dispute.
coined the phrase: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,"
and by that he meant that each individual must fight for and
protect the rights of freedom or they would be victimized
by others seeking power over them.
and ironically, that was Osama bin Laden's message to the
American public. He discounted both Kerry and Bush as having
any say regarding the future of American security, and placed
that duty and responsibility directly on the shoulders of
the American public--the citizens of democracy, the Citizens
the responsibility for the leadership of a nation was the
heart of the speaking program last night at the United Nations.
Both speakers reminded the audience that Thomas Jefferson
put the duty and role of leadership upon the shoulders of
each citizen and not at the feet of the government.
Jefferson's phrase means each individual must fight
for and protect the rights of freedoms or be victimized
by others seeking power over them
speakers last night, Eric S. Petersen and Willard Sterne Randall,
are world experts on Jefferson. Mr. Peterson authored a recent
book on Jefferson's wisdoms titled "Light and Liberty,
Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness."
Randall, a Presidential Scholar, is the author of twleve books,
including five biographies, one of which is titled "Thomas
Jefferson, A Life". The book was nominated for a Pulitzer
a world where the average person in the 21st Century consumes
most information from the media--television, radio, newspapers--both
authors issued a warning that what Jefferson was promoting
was Individual Vision, and the need for "eternal vigilance"
among the people to protect themselves from the onslaught
of big government ruling their lives.
was also the message delivered yesterday by Osama bin Laden.
the speakers reminded, was so concerned with governments taking
power away from the people that when he was asked to help
shape the Constitution of the United States he did so only
under the condition that there be a Bill of Rights included
in it to assure and underscore the importance of individual
freedom and individual authority over government. Many thought
a Bill of Rights to be redundant and not inclusive of all
the rights that could be enumerated. But Jefferson, wary of
government interpreting the Constitution for the people, wanted
the rights spelled out in clear, concise, simplistic terms.
Sri Chinmoy(center), spiritual
adviser to the United Nations, led a 'moment of silence'
before Eric S. Petersen (left)and Willard Stern Randall
authors also pointed out that Jefferson, while not an anarchist,
was in favor of smashing the core of political power into
the smallest possible pieces and scattering the fragments
to the winds so that they might not aggregate in one place
and become oppressive and tyrannical, as illustrated by Osama
bin Laden's video taped message reminding Americans that they
-- the citizens--not "Kerry and Bush" -- held the
power of peace over war, of Vigilance over Terrorism.
the same time, the authors noted that Jefferson was not a
promoter of war or violence. And, there was the implication
that he would not support imposing one's beliefs upon others
and that he might not have waged war on Iraq to force the
nation into democracy, but instead would have let it evolve
into a union as Europe has done. While not specficially stated,
this was the ambience of the discussion.
referred to the process of education and action as "Light"
Petersen reminded the audience that Thomas Jefferson believe
in the "Live And Let Live" philosophy. However,
had he faced the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and the Complacency
of a world that turned its head to mushrooming threats, no
one is sure what he would have done.
had the honor of posing a question to the speakers about the
importance of "eternal vigilance" and how Jefferson's
view of that process played a role in today's world.
authors' answers were synonymous. It came down to two elements:
education and action.
Peterson referred to this process as "Light" and
interpreted Mr. Petersen's view on "Light" as the
knowledge and awareness of a parent to protect the Children's
Children's Children from the tentacles of self-imposed oppression
and tyranny. These self-imposed tyrannies include Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency. They are those forces that shut out the "Light"
of self improvement, and drown a child into primordial pool
where he or she believes evolution is impossible because the
child is relegated to be a nail and the world a hammer.
other words, a child becomes a slave to "powers greater
than itself," whether those powers be economic, social,
political, emotional, religious or educational.
viewed Mr. Petersen's comments about "Liberty" as
the need an individual has to employ Courage to rout Fear,
Conviction to overshadow Intimidation and Right Actions that
benefit the Children's Children's Children to quash Complacency--the
most virulent of all degrees of Terrorism.
took what Mr. Petersen said to mean that "Liberty"
meant nothing without action, and only when one faced the
knowledge that he or she is responsible for the future (Light)
would one be willing to act.
Randall's biography shows us how Jefferson faced his
problems and provides us with touchstones between his
time and today
Peterson made the point that Jefferson was long on the belief
that "faith without works was nothing." It was the
action of the individual, the assumption of individual responsibility
for the protection of "Liberty" that provided its
assurance, and not government rhetoric, or government's seduction
that --government would protect the "Rights of Man."
Randall and Mr. Peterson sang in harmony regarding Vigilance.
men looked at the world today through the eyes of Jeffersonian
virtues. These included as foremost to be constantly wary
of turning over the responsibility to perserve freedom, peace
and prosperity to others since they--those who took the power
from the people--would abuse it eventually.
bin Laden sang the same song. "Your security is not in
the hands of Kerry and Bush...."
European Union believes this also. It has built-in protection
to insure that power does not flow to the few.
Each nation in the EU has equal rights, as does its parliment.
If one nation of the twenty-five does not ratify the current
EU Constitution, then the Constitution will not become effective.
There must be unanimity among all--the largest and smallest
of nations must agree, and, in many cases, the EU member nations
are taking the ratification issue to the people to vote upon.
is the purest form of individual duty and responsibility to
freedom as Jefferson envisioned it, for it is dispersed equally
among all--big and small, strong and weak. It signals to all
that power rests with the people, and that power is fragmented
among them, not centered in one source.
McKenzie (second from left) congratulating speakers
after their talks and sharing his agreement with their
analyses of the Right of Vigilance
America, there are questions whether the Constitution of the
United States is being violated. Has government reached a
point where it is abusing the rights of the people by taking
actions that do not represent the will of the people?
election slated for November 2, 2004, suggests the split in
America over this issue, and, perhaps a deeper concern about
the weakening of individual over collective power.
this equation steps Osama bin Laden, threatening America with
violence if it "steps out of line."
Europe enjoyed the right to sign a Constitution yesterday
in 2004 only because America more than half a century ago
fought an "evil empire" and destroyed a "Terrorist"
perhaps far worse but equal to in many ways Osama bin Laden.
His name was Adolph Hitler.
unanswered question for Americans is to what extent should
we go to extend the rights of "Light" and "Liberty"
to others? Should we unseat tyrants and dictators to let the
seeds of Liberty grow in foreign soil?
the right to vote and determine one's destiny in Afghanistan
or Iraq worth the blood of American volunteer soldiers?
does the War On Terrorism remind us that we, the citizens
of America, have a duty to become more informed and more conscious
about our own rights, our own duty, our own responsibility
to the preservation of "Light" and "Liberty?"
night, the entire question of individual duty and responsibilty
seemed to flood the floor of the U.N. General Assembly.
Petersen and Randall opened a floodgate for many in the hall
where nations have struggled to codify old wounds and unite
differences in peaceful and prosperous ways.
Great Hall of the U.N. has also been a theater of Terrorism
where nations have slammed shoes on podiums and shaken fists
and conspired to build nuclear weapons and violate treaties
by manufacturing biological weapons.
and wife, Lori.......
the seats in the General Assembly of the U.N. are there for
one reason--to disperse power on an equal basis among nations.
In the Jeffersonian view, each nation would have an equal
vote, just as in America the richest and most powerful man
would have only one vote as the poorest and least powerful
man/woman would have only one vote. Each voice would be equal.
is, in the final analysis, Vigilance at its best. But, it
only works when those who have the Right of Vigilance employ
when people understand that Terrorism's greatest weapons are
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the latter being the most
dangerous of all Terror Tools--do they realize that "doing
nothing" or feeling "powerless" is what Osama
bin Laden seeks.
the grounds of the United Nations
great thrill of a Terrorist isn't bombing buildings, it's
reminding people four years later that he did, and, if he
wants, can do it again.
thrive on the belief they can constantly intimidate those
they once intimidated. A bully who has bullied others and
gotten away with it only has to walk into a room to make his
point. The people cower until one day someone stands up to
was the point of last night's seminar.
when we, the Citizens of Vigilance, stand up to the Beast
of Terror, will "Light" and "Liberty"
be not just ours, but our children's and their Children's
though the world seems to be coming unglued in many sectors,
I believe that Thomas Jefferson would be pleased today.
would see Europe, a nation that only a few decades ago had
historically been killing one another for countless centuries,
would see Americans, rightly or wrongly, dying in foreign
lands to depose tyrants and force "democracy" to
"Light and Liberty" by voting for Vigilance
would see Americans at home split into two factions, realizing
that neither candidate represents the "true leadership"
of the Jeffersonian kind.
hopefully, Jefferson, were he alive, would walk before a television
camera and point to government and say: "Look, these
guys can't run your lives. They never could, and they never
will be able to. It is you, the Parents and Grandparents,
the Uncles and Aunts, the Mothers and Fathers, the Nephews,
Nieces and Citizens of Vigilance who must become the leaders
of your lives, the leaders of your nations. It is your shoulders
that the duty for leadership resides, not some elected official.
You must stop seeking others to preserve and protect your
liberty, for you will always be either disappointed or seduced
into thinking another can give you what you want. No human
being can provide you what you want, for expectations and
realities are as different as night and day. So, when you
vote in this election, vote for Vigilance, not a person. Vote
for what is right for the future of your children, not for
a person. Vote for your duty to lead, not to abdicate that
duty to someone else. If you vote that way, you'll have Light
Jefferson said those words, he would be calling on us all
to Vote for Vigilance!