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GROUND ZERO PLUS 1236 DAY--New York, NY, Sunday, January 30, 2005--Yesterday, 46-year-old Salama al-Khafaji, a Shiite dentist in Baghdad, slipped on her bullet proof vest and donned her black garb to make one last swing out on the streets to urge many of the 14 million eligible voters to cast their ballots in her favor.

Salama al-Khafaji survived three assination attempts to vie for a position on the provisional assembly

She is one of 110 individuals, parties and alliances vying for the 275 member provisional assembly that will steer Iraq into a state of democracy.

Ms. al-Khafaji is a veteran at standing up for her beliefs. She survived three assassination attempts one during which her 17-year-old son was killed during an ambush by insurgents which also killed one of her bodyguards. She proclaims: "If I die, it is better to die for something than rather than nothing."

Famed English Prime Minister Winston Churchill is noted for a similar quote: "Stand for something or be nothing." Ms. al-Khafaji has taken that comment a step farther. She's standing for something with a bulls eye on her chest--a prime target for insurgents who have vowed to kill any Iraqi who comes within 500 yards of one of the 5,300 polling centers strategically positioned in Iraq.

On guard to help protect the voters are more than 140,000 American troops.

Most people in America and other stable democracies might find it hard to comprehend that to vote, one risks death. The idea that someone might shoot and kill you as you approach a voting center is not a way to maximize voter turnout. It does, however, suggest that those willing to risk death to cast a ballot are the most committed of all to the principles of freedom and liberty.

Vigilance is about taking a giant risk for the future. It requires one to shed the safety and comfort of one's current state of being. Even in the worst of climates, people tend to accept their way of life rather than rock the boat.

It's called Complacency.

In Iraq, for example, for nearly a quarter century, the 24 million citizens of that nation sat back and allowed tyranny and oppression to rule their lives. They adjusted to the rapes of their children, the torture rooms, the jammed prisons, the merciless beatings of Olympic competitors who didn't win a medal and a host of other atrocities.

Logo for a grass roots Association of Former Prisoners and Missing Persons in Baghdad which is run by volunteers. They have offices in every governate except Tikrit and Ramadi. They are trying to imput into computers information from siezed prison and other government documents to create a database. . USAID-DART plans to help them get better organized and possibly train them on how to properly interview witnesses of atrocities or survivors of massacres.

In America, tens of thousands of women remain in relationships with abusive husbands or boyfriends, suffering severe physical and emotional scarring because it is "too hard to escape."

For decades the Russian people lived under the threats of communism, accepting a wall that divided the East and West as though it were inviolable.

In North Korea, the citizens of that nation boil grass to feed their children while across the border their relatives go to McDonalds and Starbucks.

Sadly, in too many cases, it takes an outside force to prompt people into action that secures a better future for themselves and their children. There can be little question that living under the auspices of freedom and liberty, no matter how turbulent, is better than living under tyranny and oppression.

That's why the woman dentist in Baghdad who dons her bullet proof vest to hustle votes is a strong symbol of the Price of Vigilance. Her price is that she is willing to die for the right to be free.

So what is the lesson that Ms. Khafaji offers the 300 million Americans watching the events in Iraq?

A child who is told the story of the woman dentist realizes that there is some inherent value in the freedom we often take for granted. In our country, we do not risk death when we vote or when we campaign for what we think is right, or when we speak our mind under the principles of free speech.

In many counties the opposite is true.

A Parent of Vigilance who sits with a child and shares what is happening in Iraq is teaching the child about Vigilance, and that standing up for one's beliefs is the only way to preserve them. To let one's beliefs be smothered by others is nothing more than feeding the Beast of Terror's thirst for Complacency, and opening the door for tyranny and oppression to rule.

It also follows that if one is not a Parent of Vigilance then one is a Parent of Complacency.

Advocate your position

To stand for something one must announce what platform he or she represents. To go through life without advocating a position means that no one knows where you are, and if no one is aware, there is no advancement of that position, no growth, no evolution.

Raising children in this modern world is all about teaching them the Principles of Vigilance. Those Principles simply are to replace Courage in the face of Fear, to add Conviction where Intimidation once ruled, and to shun Complacency by taking Right Actions for the benefit of the Children's Children's Children.

These are not difficult Principles to preach, but they may be hard to practice.

But if one believes in the ideal that the mission of a Parent, a Loved One, a Guardian, a Relative is to leave this world a little bit better for the children, then becoming a Citizen of Vigilance is not hard at all. Inside every human being is the desire to protect the innocent, but, like any muscle, it must be exercised or it atrophies.

That's the reason we should all take the Vow of Vigilance and become Citizens, Parents, Loved Ones and Grandparents of Vigilance.

Vigilance is about taking action

To vow to the Principles of Vigilance is putting on bullet proof vests that keep us from falling victim to the assaults of Complacency that drive us into states of thinking we are powerless over certain fundamentals in life.

We are not.

The abused wife can leave and seek help. The disgruntled employee can quit the job and find something more enjoyable to do. The angry citizen over the political shape of the nation can run for office.

Vigilance is about action. It's about standing up for what one believes, and, to think through that belief to make sure that what one is advocating is equally good for all children and the future of the world's children.

Put on your bullet proof vest against Complacency.

Vote for Vigilance by taking the Pledge of Vigilance today.

Iraqis walking to vote as cars were prohibited
Iraqis queing up to vote

Iraqi woman indicating she has voted
Iraqis voting with Iraqi soldiers watching over them
Voter and child being scanned
Voters holding "Vote Iraq" sign

Photos of Iraqis taking action and voting



Go To Yesterday's Story: "What Compells A Father To Kill His Daughter At School"



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