The VigilanceVoice  

Wednesday... January 30, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 141
The Freedom Corps Or
The Vigilance Corps?

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City--I read the President of The United States' State of the Union speech.   I was impressed with the effort to rally Americans to fight Terrorism in many forms, but disappointed in the numbers.
          The Freedom Corps President Bush called upon would consist of  200,000 members, divided between the United States and volunteers who agreed to go abroad.  It would meld in the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, a body currently comprising 40,000 volunteers.
          While I think the plan is a step forward, it is only a nibble at the roots to the issue of Terrorism.
          I would prefer to see America form a Vigilance Corps, and rather than call for membership to be limited to 200,000, which is just a bit more than a half of one-percent of the total population, that every American be asked to join the Vigilance Corps.
         There are over 100 million households in the United States.   Each one faces Terrorism in greater or lesser degrees.   Each has the responsibility to protect itself from the dangers of "fear," "intimidation," and "complacency"--the side effects of Terrorism's cancer.
         Terrorism is about how we feel toward ourselves, our children, our families, society as a whole, our country and the world.   Those of us who shy from the responsibility to address Terrorism breed it, become hosts for its transmission.
         A child in a household who is neglected emotionally or abused physically knows the sting of Terrorism that far exceeds the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.   The child cowers inside, fears reprisals of both physical and emotional natures, and grows up feeling "less than" others, or arrogantly decides he or she is better than as a form of retaliation against being oppressed.
        Freedom, as suggested by the name in Freedom Corps, is the result of Vigilance, not its cause.   It is a nebulous name, often misunderstood by those who claim their "freedom" to express themselves in ways they believe are appropriate according to their traditions, their values.   Freedom is not universal in definition.
       On the other hand, Vigilance is.   Vigilance is about protecting the innocent.   It is about protecting the rights and privileges of the helpless, the uneducated, the unshaped, the weak.   Nothing is more pliable in this sense than a child, who, like a lump of clay, can be molded into a strong, caring human being or suppressed into a boiling, fearful, downtrodden being who launches into life ducking shadows and fearing the comparison between himself or herself and the rest of the world.
        A Parent of Vigilance recognizes the danger of a child's vulnerability to "fear," "intimidation" and "complacency."   He or she stands vigil over the child, heading off the Terrorisms that assault almost any child during the development of their personalities and their mission in life.   He or she is ready to replace "fear" with "courage, to nullify "intimidation" with "conviction," and to battle "complacency" with "action."
        While the Freedom Corps is a noble effort for government, it misses the true mark.   It separates the responsibility each citizen has to protect the children of this nation from Terrorism' harm, and implies that Freedom can be preserved internally and externally by a minute force of dedicated people at a ratio of 1:1,500.    Freedom can only be preserved at Ground Zero level--by parents or guardians of a child who protect that child from abuse, neglect, and instill it with pride and self-sufficiency.
         This is where the essence of the Parent of Vigilance Pledge comes to play.   It offers the nation a choice about protecting the doorsteps of America from Terrorism of all forms--especially the worst of kinds--the one that depreciates a child, or disenfranchises it from Freedom by restraining it potential, or ignoring its individuality.
         America's society today is closer than it has ever been in many decades.   It has been thrust together by a horrible event that threatens our physical security, but the power of the threat is dissipating daily.    Americans will shift their priorities from fighting Terrorism of the physical nature to returning to a state of normalcy where other values will dominate--food, shelter, money, work, vacations.   The smoke from the World Trade Center and Pentagon will snuff itself into a memory, and life will rush on to fill the gap of Terror.
        But that vacuum Terrorism created in the body of American culture can be restored.   If Americans realize the attacks on this country were a symbol of the need for each American to stand at a state of Vigilance regarding "fear," "intimidation" and "complacency," then the deaths of thousands will not go down in mere memory.
       By understanding that America's greatest Terroristic threat is "complacency,"--the lack of taking action to dismantle "fear," "intimidation" and "neglect"--only then will the families and guardians of children in this country start to shift their thinking and change their actions toward the children.   When they understand that "fear" can be replaced with "courage," and "intimidation" with "conviction," and start to take "action" to cripple "complacency," then Freedom will be protected to the highest degree.
       I would like to see President Bush and Congress think about renaming the Freedom Corps to the Vigilance Corps.   And instead of calling for 200,000 members, to call for nearly 300 million.
      I would like to see America promote the "Pledge Of Vigilance" not only to this country, but offer it to the world as part of our tribute to the Sentinels of Vigilance who died on September 11 that we might learn a vital lesson--that Freedom begins with Vigilance.

Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 29--THE TERROR OF FAT

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