We like to walk on the sunny side of the street.  It's safer and warmer.   But, on the shady side there exists as much of our neighborhood as the sunny side, only it has less traffic.   If we don't look across the street to the shady side, we are vulnerable to its demons, for the dark side of our neighborhoods are as alive and eager for recognition as our sunny sides.   Such is the case with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  This Triad of Terrorism paves the shady sides of our mind's neighborhood.  Courage, Conviction and Complacency paves the bright side.   Find out how and why we should cross the street and visit our dark side and become allies with it before it visits us in the form of unexpected Terror.


Thursday--January 23, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 498
If You Don't Visit A Bad Neighborhood, It Will Visit You!

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Jan. 23--The expression, "If you don't visit a bad neighborhood, it will visit you," is being used by the Secretary of Defense as an example of why we should act swiftly in Iraq, and by opinion columnists as a warning that if we hug one side of the street and turn our backs to the other, we'll get blindsided.

Al Qaeda's "bad neighborhood" terrorized America

        It's easy to ignore the bad neighborhoods in life.  We drive around them.  We don't go shopping in the heart of them.  And, we don't take Sunday walks through them.
        For the most part, the farther we distance ourselves from the "bad neighborhoods" the better and safer we feel.  But with today's globalization, bad neighborhoods have a way of visiting us weather we like it or not.  It is also the reason we need to all walk through them so we don't get blindsided.
       On September 11, 2001, the bad neighborhood of Al Qaeda came for a short visit, leaving millions of pounds of debris and destruction, and sweeping away nearly 3,000 lives.    A few months ago in the suburbs around Washington D.C. a couple of snipers came to visit from bad neighborhoods, taking 13 lives with them.   And now, as we sit on the brink of war in Iraq, and face a showdown with North Korea for another possible war, we're faced with a couple of other visitors from bad neighborhoods.
        The problem we face isn't the presence of Terrorism, it  is our Complacency to understand where it comes from and how to counter it.
        We would rather cover our eyes and pretend Terrorism will go away.  But it isn't going to.

US troops on their way to the Iraqi neighborhoods

          Not many Americans want to think of 150,000 American troops massed in and around Iraq, poised to strike at Baghdad around mid-February, or, that the cost of keeping them on the ready is $1 billion a week.  We would rather think about who is going to win the Super Bowl, or who will be the grand winner at the Academy Awards, or maybe wonder if Tony Soprano will have an affair with his psychiatrist before the show ends.
         We have lots of places to look rather than at our global or domestic backyards, littered with things we would rather not see.
         No one really wants to think of American boys splayed out on a battlefield, their bodies bloated by some deadly gas they were exposed to.   No one wants to think of France and Germany turning their backs on the U.S. and denying them support in an attack against Iraq, or to think that our European allies aren't really allies at all in a pinch.
          Of course, there is little interest in wanting to take the madman of Kim Jong Il's ilk on, a guy who has threatened to launch Korean War II if his nuclear production plants are attacked.   We don't want to "go there" and dwell on what might happen "if..."
          Straddling the fence is easier.  Ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is not always bliss

         It is much easier to abdicate the responsibility for the global security of the world to guys like Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of State who is masterminding the war in Iraq.   The recent cover story on him in Time Magazine positions him as the "civilian general" directing the military on how to fight to the war in minute detail.   No one is wondering why a civilian has garnered so much power over the military, or, if he is qualified to prove his skill in commanding.   No one is wondering why the general who led the victory in the Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf, hasn't been asked back to command the Iraq invasion, or why he wasn't asked to find Osama bin Laden in the first place.
          Those are bad neighborhoods.   They require us to confront issues.   And, to confront issues, one must be informed on the issues he or she is confronting.   That means lots of work.   It means we must research and study them, and then form opinions based on the multitude of facts.
          It's much easier to just turn our backs and let others do the juggling of the hot potatoes.
          After all, why should we, the "average citizen" try and figure things out as complicated as global Terrorism?  Isn't that what we pay the politicians and generals for? 
          Nothing is more Complacent than this kind of thinking, but it permeates our society.  
           Even if our small Voices can't or won't be heard by those who lock themselves in the castles of political and military might, there are ears that can hear what we say who are far more influential in the world of public opinion than the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, or the leader of the United Nations.
           Those most valuable ears are the ones of our children, our grandchildren, our loved ones--the little ones.

          Public Complacency is fertilized by parents to children, generation upon generation.   On the obverse, public Action is fertilized by parents to children, generation upon generation.
           In the "bad neighborhoods," all the parents talk about is the "oppressors."   They teach their children through anger and hostility to "hate" and "resent" and "hold liable" those who oppress them, or threaten them with continued oppression.
           The Terrorists who flew their planes into the World Trade Center were trained to be Terrorists not by Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, but by their parents and grandparents and their loved ones who extolled the vile and corrupt nature of the "good neighborhoods" who stole from the "bad neighborhoods" and why the "good neighborhoods" should be punished for their violations of the "bad neighborhoods."
          The snipers who shot people at will in the Washington D.C. area a few months ago were brought up with menu of hating the "haves," and as "have nots," felt they had the right to revenge their station, to revolt against the "good neighborhoods."
           If we look at the ills of the world, the core of the problem is usually between the bad versus good neighborhoods.  North Korea is definitely a "bad neighborhood."   Its famine and economic crisis, plus its famine and the fact the government spends 50 percent of its revenues on its military forces, creates a hungry Beast of Terror arming itself to "take what it wants" from those who "have."
           I have a very wealthy friend who came up from the streets.  He had nothing and learned to get things by hook and crook.   Not that he was criminal, but his tactics were raw and edgy.  If there was a scrap on the table, he'd grab it before anyone else.   As he amassed his fortunes he purchased numerous weapons, machine guns, rifles, pistols and buried them around his mansion in protective cloths.
           If there ever was a revolution, he said, he had no worries.   While most people might hoard food and make bomb shelters in case of a crisis, he hoarded weapons.   His philosophy was with the weapons he could take all the food from all the people who hoarded it, and all their money.   He didn't have to hoard anything but violence, for in the end, the takers would win, he said.

"Bad neighborhood" = Battle for Seoul

      Instilled in his nature was the "bad neighborhood."   He had grown up in a tough street culture where power meant everything, and violence was the ultimate source of reaping rewards otherwise not available.     

Iraqi battle in "bad neighborhood"

      North Korea and Iraq are examples of the bullies of bad neighborhoods.   They are the kids on the street who don't have things and want what others have, but rather than earn them in a fair play, prefer to take them under threat or coercion.  
           Currently, public opinion in the United States is slipping regarding the war against Iraq.  That latest CNN/Post poll shows that 54 percent of the American public are worried that the U.S. will move too quickly against Iraq, and suggest we should follow the France/German "give them time to comply" approach.  Overall support on military action against Iraq is also slipping.   In December, 62 percent of the nation was in favor of military action.  Today, it has dropped to 57 percent and appears to be sliding down each day.
           No one really wants to go into the "bad neighborhood."   No one wants to face it.

The 'bad neighborhood" of war in Iraq

           But our Complacency that is growing daily is symbolic of our lack of knowledge about what bad neighborhoods are all about.   They breed future Terrorists.
            The children in the bad neighborhoods are being fed constant information about how America and other nations who have the things they don't are keeping them and their families in states of poverty.   That won't change until the regimes change.
            The young Terrorists will continually be shaped by the suffering they endure, and the beliefs they are spoon-fed by their parents.
             Our young Complacent children will also be shaped by the lack of knowledge of the bad neighborhoods they avoid.   As we guard and protect our children from the reality of the "bad neighborhoods," we instill in them the gap between the haves and have-nots.  We make it seem they have a right to what they have by default--our fault that we don't explain to them the difference between the two neighborhoods.
              We avoid such description because we don't understand those neighborhoods.  We don't understand why others hate us, or why a parent in another culture would tell their children why America is bad, or deserving of punishment.
            If we are to combat Terrorism, we must walk in its shoes.   We must understand its complications and teach our children what, how and why the Beast of Terror is what it is.
            A child needs to understand prejudice, bigotry, class distinction, religions righteousness and historical oppression in his or her own terms.
            Our children take to heart our comments.  If we make sweeping statements about a nation or a people or a race within earshot of our children, it impacts their opinions and attitudes.   They begin to form in their minds what we say, and if we are putting down a culture or a race or a nation or a people, they put them down too.  
             Worse yet, if we are Complacent, and know nothing of the other cultures or their attitudes and outlooks, if we aren't aware of the cultures we are being Terrorized by, we leave our children naked, vulnerable to thinking only from their limited viewpoints about the world.   

Help our children be aware of "good neighborhoods" in Iraq

            That's why we must visit the "bad neighborhoods" with our children.  We need to walk them through the lands of Iraq and North Korea, and show them the cultures that threaten us and the world.   When a child sees the nature of a bad neighborhood, he or she begins to respect the "good neighborhood" more than ever.   Complacency evaporates with knowledge and understanding.
              As Parents of Vigilance, we have a choice to raise our children in a state of Complacency where they are oblivious of the world of bad and good neighborhoods, or, to teach them the difference between the two.
             In a bad neighborhood, the Beast of Terror rules.   He stalks the neighborhood with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  In a good neighborhood, the Sentinels of Vigilance rule, and they march throughout the neighborhood with their Shields and Swords of Vigilance at the ready, issuing out Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.
            In the bad neighborhoods, the children are taught to "take" what is theirs from those who have "stolen" their rights, or "threaten" their rights.
            In good neighborhoods, the children are encouraged to give rather than take, and to protect the children and the children's children's children.  
            But this understanding only comes from parents and guardians who have walked in the shoes of those in the bad neighborhoods.  It requires them to read, understand, and talk to others who have a variety of opinions, and then form their own from all the data.
            It also requires that a parent subscribe to the Pledge of Vigilance, so that he or she understands that Terrorism is the absence of Vigilance, that Terrorism is only about looking at one side of the coin, and ignoring the other.   That Terrorism is not about doing what is right for the Children's Children's Children's, for if it were about that, Terrorists would never employ Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as tools of war.

Teach our children both sides of an issue: understanding the difference between good and bad neighborhoods

            Parents of Vigilance need to face their own Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, and be willing to so that they can appreciate the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that comprise the "good neighborhood" of Vigilant Thought.
            Then they can pass these Vigilant Viewpoints on to their children, loved ones.   They can build a great defense against Terrorism's greatest ally--Complacency.
            Today, a Child of Terrorism is being trained today to be an adult of Terrorism.   It is happening this second.   To counter that, we need to mold Children of Vigilance.  We can't do that by ignoring the bad neighborhoods.
            Teaching a child the Virtues of Vigilance prepares a child to battle Terrorism.   The more children who understand the difference between the good and bad neighborhoods, the more chances all the children will want to play in the safety and security of the Vigilant World.
            Take a walk through a bad neighborhood, but carry with you the Pledge of Vigilance.   It will keep you safe.


Jan. 22 -- Aborting The Beast of Terror

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