The VigilanceVoice  

Thursday... January 24, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 135

Victory Gardens Or...
Vigilance Gardens?

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO--New York City--Jan. 24--On my recent trip to Montana, I picked up some vital information about fighting Terrorism.  It cost $4.95..
        Ironically, it's the Farmer's Almanac Survival Guide.  The subtitle is "For City and Country Folk--When Terror Strikes."
       Poor Richard's Almanac, originally published by Ben Franklin, was loaded with common-sense details about how to make life as simple and unencumbered as possible.  The Farmer's Almanac, published here in New York City, is stuffed full of 21st Century information on how to survive disasters in modern times.
      Glancing through the book, you might think people were stupid.   Obviously, those who live in the cities and metropolitan areas are when it comes to eking out an existence.   They are used to concrete walls, cars, taxis, take out food, elevators, electricity, and a highly leveraged mortgage to provide shelter for their heads.
       Few have Victory Gardens.  Fewer know what they are.
       A Victory Garden was a form of pronouncing one's self-sufficiency during World War II.   Many items were rationed during the war, and there was a pulse beating through America that all were responsible for their own care and maintenance.  At the time, government wasn't an udder upon which society sucked, or at least, it had fewer teats and far less promised milk.
       Victory Gardens were small or large gardens people maintained to supply themselves with their own food in case supplies failed on the normal retail circuit.    The gardens also provided each citizen with a sense of support for the war effort by becoming independent, self-reliant.  Children participated in the planting, nurturing, weeding, and harvesting of various foods from their own personal gardens.   Democracy, the right of privacy in your own castle, heightened as people became less dependent on the "outer world" and more on their own "inner world."
       In the big cities, Victory Gardens grew also.   Apartment dwellers grew in planter boxes various types of foods that could help sustain them if a shortage occurred.   A patio or fire escape became a self-sustaining garden of independence, and while not able to rival the farmland variety, the sense of pride and individualism that went with the planter box garden was just as strong and proud as the citizens who could dedicate an acre or two to their Victory Garden.

        I thought about the need for Americans to return to the principle of the "Victor Gardens."   Wrapped in that package was not just the growing of your own food, but a deeper charge to be responsible for your family yourself, and to not rely on government or others for ultimate protection.    The Victory Garden concept cut the apron strings between citizens and government.
         Today, the same ideology applies to the Vigilance Garden.   It is absolutely critical that all citizens in America and the world take total responsibility for the safety of their homes, their belongings, and the lives of their children and loved ones.  Food, water and shelter top the list in disastrous times.
         Post World War II, and post-September 11, society has become entwined with expectations that the government--the police, the military, social security, the civil rights movement, endowments and entitlements--would provide resources for anyone in need.   The Farmers Almanac makes it clear that in disastrous times, it is every man and woman for himself and herself.   The ill-prepared will be trampled by the reality of the situation.
         I saw that reality come to life at Ground Zero.  When the Twin Towers collapsed, people screamed and ran and pushed and shoved.   It was the primal instinct to survive that rose to the occasion.   Certainly, there were heroes who cast aside their own self-preservation and risked it for others, but the mass of humanity ducked and weaved and ran and dived to save themselves.  That's why over 25,000 people escaped harm that day.  They didn't wait to be led out by a guide--they bolted.
         Ultimately, those who wait for the government to provide the security for their lives wait for a "hand-out."   Similarly, those who expect the government to inject "vigilance" into their lives will starve.   Only by growing a Vigilance Garden will the fruits of protection ripen for each individual, each family.
         What should be planted?
         First, the soil in must be free of the weeds and rocks that choke new growth.   A Vigilance Garden farmer will first extract the rocks of "fear."   Fear is the shadow of the unknown.  It blocks out sunlight.  It stunts growth.
        Terrorism isn't the act of Terror that is its ultimate target, but the "fear" it imposes on the survivors that they might suffer from it at some time in the future.   To rid the Vigilance Garden of "fear" we address it for what it is--an enemy that tried to shut out the sun.   Whether it be the fear of Terrorists, or the fear of not being liked enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough--fear is only an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.    To remove it, we face its falsity.   We fight it with its opposite--Courage.   We muster the courage to stand up to our fears, looking them in the face, and realizing that their only purpose is to delimit us, to depreciate our right to happiness, to shrink our self image.
         Next, we hunt for the weeds of Intimidation.  Terrorism seeks to make us cower and shrink away from our duty and responsibility to stand up to it.   "Oh, what can we do against Terrorism," is an intimidation statement.  It supposes we are helpless, inept, unable to protect ourselves from Terrorism of all forms and shapes.
         The antidote for Intimidation is Conviction.   We take a vow--a Pledge of Vigilance--to not bend to the winds of our fears.   We fight thoughts that suggest or imply we are "lesser than" or "greater than" others, and confirm our convictions we have the right and the gift of freedom to be who want to be, and that no one, no critic of our personality or looks or ethnicity or religious viewpoint, has the right to demean, debase or threaten us.   Conviction is the knowledge in our hearts we are as worthy as the next individual, and that no one can take that worthiness away--not a bin Laden or a person who says:  "Ah, you're ugly."  Or, "you don't deserve're a nobody."
         Finally, before we can plant the seeds of Vigilance in our garden, there is one remaining weed that must be pulled.  It is Complacency.   This is the most insidious of all, for it presumes that someone else  is responsible for the protection of our home, our neighborhood, our state, our nation.    Complacency is the disease of ignorance.  It allows us to pass the buck to another--to blame them for our problems, to issue them complaints for our lack of education, our lack of money, our lack of prosperity.    "If only THEY had done....if only THEY would listen....if only THEY would act..."
         "They" is inaction.  It is the weed that strangles our power to act.  To rip out the weed of Complacency we must assume the responsibility to protect ourselves from ourselves.  We must rid the "They" from our thoughts.  We must take the action to assure our physical and emotional security, just as we lock the door at night, or get up to go to the bathroom.  We cannot wait for things to happen.   
      To assure a ripe and productive garden of Vigilance, we take action by becoming involved in our own future, in our own destiny.  We don't sit and wait.   
       We start by taking the Pledge of Vigilance.   We vow to fight fear with courage, intimidation with conviction, and complacency with action.
          Victory Gardens were originally designed to grow the fruits of freedom.
          Vigilance Gardens will preserve and protect them from Terrorism's weeds.

Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 23--GROUND ZERO--192,960 MINUTES LATER

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