Cliff's GROUND ZERO Terrorism Diaries  

SUNDAY, January 6, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 117

Terror Of The GoatSucker
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News


The GoatSucker monster invaded my grandson’s apartment last night.

            He wasn’t afraid.

            His Sentinel of Vigilance, Buzz LightYear, was there to protect him.  And, he was backed up by his three-year-old sister, Sarah.
            My wife and I were babysitting the grandkids while our daughter and her husband enjoyed a movie.   I was tired, battling a cold and severe sinus leakage, but fought the desire to lie down on the couch and sleep to play with my five-year-old grandson’s vivid imagination.
            To understand the impact of Terrorism, it is necessary to “walk in the moccasins” of those you are trying to protect. 

  Since my ultimate goal is to help parents and guardians of children remain vigilant over the insidious nature of Terrorism in a child, “being with him” overruled my desire for rest.
            I crawled down on the floor where Matt had spread out all his dinosaurs and Buzz LightYear toys, and we began to play “bad over good.”
            Freud said life was all about conflict.   Newton said for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.   For “good” to exist there must be a backboard for its presence—that of “bad.”  For every ying, there must be a yang.
            Matt, like any child, loves to play games.   In each game, there is a “winner” and a “loser.”   Even in his most favorite children’s show on television—“Little Bear”—there is some conflict, some tension, some thread of a threat or obstacle that must be overcome for victory to rise out of the ashes of “fear,” “intimidation,” and “complacency.”   When Little Bear’s friends eat all the goodies he is taking to his grandparents’ house, there is that “fear” within him that his grandparents will be “sad” that his gifts are gone.  The fear is removed by elation of the grandparents to see Little Bear, regardless of the gifts.  But, during the last legs of the journey, the “fear” mounts.   Terrorism takes tiny forms in many cases, and if not resolved, can grow into a September 11th.
            Even Richard Scarry, one of the more prolific children’s book authors, has his characters fighting fires in the bakery, or fixing things that might “hurt” others.   Life is all about “policing” the “bad” to allow the “good” to prosper.  It is like pulling weeds so they don’t choke out the growth of the new, the innocent, the unprotected.
            So as my grandson and I played the “bad” and “evil ones” versus the “good” and “virtuous ones,” there was a point where “bad” appeared to overcome “good.”   That’s where the GoatSucker came in.
            Earlier in the day we had been drawing pictures from a book of Monsters.   It was designed to teach the rudiments of drawing—and, one of the pictures was of a “GoatSucker.”  Matt loved it, and did a wonderful replica of it.   Sarah colored it in.
            By happenstance, my wife and I knew the myth of Chupacabra—the legendary GoatSucker reported to exist in Latin America. We even went to Google on the Internet and downloaded the history of it.

Allegedly the chupacabra is a dog-sized creature with a bull-like head, small feet and smooth skin like that of a bat.  It is reported to have long claws and a crocodile-like crest running down its back.   It kills sheep and supposedly sucks of their blood.
            During our “mock” battle between “good” and “bad,” the GoatSucker seemed to be winning.   I kept urging Matt that the “good guys” had to win.   He kept reminding me that they would, but the “bad guys” had “sucked their power” from them, and made them “weak.”
            He made a little “prison” out of three blocks, in which Buzz LightYear and his band of “good guys” were trapped, powerless to protect themselves against the dinosaurs who guarded them, or the “evil GoatSuckers” flying overhead.   (His spaceship full of the “bad guys” had come from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.)
            I went along with him in a concerned way, wondering at what point “good would overcome.”  As with any good story, I grew impatient that “evil”

 would win, and my grandchild would not re-learn a critical message about how the Plus in life overpowers the Minus.    I wanted to “insist” good would win, but checked myself.   If I had any trust in his ability to decide for himself which would win, I had to wait until the last chapter.  
            Finally, he decided we should build the “sanctuary.”   He pulled out a plastic bag and spread out a toy grotto.  It had waterfalls and trees and rocks and deer and squirrels and frogs and palm trees.
            Heading the pack of little figures was a Prince on a White Horse, and his trusty Princess.  They were the Guardians of Paradise.   No “evil” was allowed in.
            He placed all the “bad” figures around the grotto, and turned the Prince toward them.  “See, G-Pa, everyone is safe in here.   Even from the GoatSucker!”

            I felt a glow.   There had been moments earlier when I wondered if the idea of Terrorism dominated his thinking—the idea of bad winning out over good.   But in the last chapter of his imaginary book, there was a Paradise, a Sanctuary, in which all the good found respite, where peace and security dominated, where the innocent deer and frogs and squirrels and nubile trees could enjoy life without fear, intimidation or complacency.
            More importantly, it was guarded by the Prince and Princess.   Matt carefully set his Sentinel of Vigilance facing the beasts trying to enter his sanctuary.   Once, when I tried to get a dinosaur to knock over a tree, Matt countered that was impossible. 
            “G-Pa!  This is the safe place.   The dinosaurs aren’t real here.  They are turned to stone.   They can’t move.”
            I tipped the dinosaur on its side and watched Matt arrange the rocks and trees and creatures as though he was the hand of God creating the Garden of Eden.
            “What about the GoatSucker?” I asked, testing his resolve.
            “He’s not really real, G-Pa.   Bad isn’t really real.  It’s pretend.”
            I looked at the imaginary GoatSucker.   It had stricken mock fear at first in all the toys.  It had been vicious and mean and dominated all the land for a while.  Now, in a child’s mind, it lay discarded on the side of the sanctuary, writhing, powerless to penetrate the security of the grotto.
            Matt had intuitively fought Terrorism and won.   He saw it as a “pretend” reality—something that could be as quickly shut down as blinking an eye.   But, what had strength and longevity, was the sanctuary—the home of the good.
            And, he was wise enough at five, to know the sanctuary had to be protected.   The White Knight on his horse, and his Princess, stood guard at the door to the Kingdom.  In reserve was a magical unicorn, there to give them power to fight all evil.
            I wondered how many parents knew that inside a child’s mind was a sanctuary.   It was a place a child found safety in when the fear and intimidation of life grew disproportionate to the reality around him or her.   Matt exposed his in play.   Some children never get that chance to share their sanctuary because a parent often forgets to “walk in the moccasins” of the child’s need to know there is a “safe place” to go when the “evil” of the world seems to dominate.
            The principle of becoming a Parent of Vigilance, or a Citizen of Vigilance, is nothing more than constantly recognizing the need for a child to feel “safe within.”  It is about building up the defenses of the “sanctuary of the mind.”   It is about making sure the child feels and knows there is a “guardian” protecting him or her from the “evil without.”

            Unprotected children may forget there is sanctuary.   They may never find a safe place, and their lives may be ruled by fear, intimidation and complacency.   But if a parent or loved one believes in the need for Semper Vigilantes—Always Vigilant—he or she or they will promote the sanctuary within a child.
            They will insure the GoatSuckers of the world end up powerless and discarded, because they will know that all evil, in the final analysis, is “pretend.”


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