Sunday--October 27
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 410
A Day With The Terrorists
In Central Park, New York City

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, October 27 --I spent yesterday with thousands of Terrorists roaming the 848 acres of Central Park.

Central Park

        Many carried bloody weapons.  
       The majority wore masks, disguising their faces.
       Some had painted faces, making it difficult to recognize them.
       Central Park, which comprises 6 percent of the land mass of Manhattan Island, opened its gates yesterday to the Terrorists.  From 11 a.m. until nearly 4 in the afternoon, they were allowed to roam along the paths and walkways, leaping out and threatening all passersby.
       You could hear their screams, the shrill of their shrieks.
       But it wasn't all Terrorism.
       Woven into the shrouds of Terrorism were threads of Vigilance.
       Sentinels of Vigilance with their Shields of Vigilance and Swords of Vigilance were there to counter the Terrorists.   Outnumbered by at least, according to my Kentucky-windage estimate, the Vigilant were about a third of the Terrorist contingency.
        The Sentinels wore the uniforms of Spider Man, Superman, Batman, Sponge Bob, Wonder Woman and numerous Angels of Vigilance.         

            There were also Dogs of Vigilance on the prowl,

some disguised as cows, others brandishing their "Masked Marvel" hero costumes, warning the Terrorists that Vigilance would not be afflicted by Fear, Intimidation or Complacency.
         It was all in fun.  It was the annual Halloween Day at Central Park, offering tens of thousands of children and their families an opportunity to climb into disguises of either the Terrorist or the Vigilant, the scary and macabre or the bold and courageous.
         I joined my wife, daughter and three grandchildren, Matt, 6, Sarah 4, and Angus, four months, on an overcast, already damp day to where children learn to face Terrorism.
        Stationed throughout the park, from 72nd to 60th Street, were a host of different "scary stations" where costumed children and their parents could participate in a variety of Halloween events from spoon slime races, Halloween jewelry making, spooky face painting to a haunted house filled with ghouls who leapt out in a mist to scare the light at heart.

        In the midst of a world that seemingly has gone mad, it was an ironic event to see children walking about with "monster" costumes that stirred within them the "Beast of Terror," and simultaneously comforting to see other children choosing non-Terrorist costumes such as Sponge Bob, or Batman, or Wonder Woman.
        Between the poles of the Ghouls of Terrorism and the Vigilant Protectors were the innocent--the little girl dressed as Minnie Mouse, the little boy dressed in a Winnie The Poo costume, the Cinderellas, the happy clowns and angels.  

       Others wore no costumes and were just there to watch, enjoy, or be scared.
        As the autumn leaves fell in the crisp wet wind, showering down like golden toasted snowflakes as the wind gusts sang through the overhanging trees, you could hear the sounds of both glee and fright as children played, or stood in long, patient lines to get their face painted, or enjoy a hayride, or inch closer to the Chess and Checkers building that housed the scariest of all places--the Haunted House.

Sisters beautified by Vigilant face painting

        Not too many years ago, Central Park was indeed 848 acres of true bloody Terrorism.  Rapes, murders, muggings was its notoriety.  Over the past decade the city has been transformed through the Vigilance of its mayoral leadership into a Disneyland--including the presence of the world's largest toy store in Time's Square--Toys 'R Us, and the world's largest McDonald's just a block away on 42nd Street.
        As I took hundreds of pictures of the kids and events, my mind clicked to the recent sniper attacks that had immobilized a community of 4 million people in Maryland, where a man and his ally, a 17-year-old, had just been captured as allegedly killing ten random people and wounding another three.
       I wondered what they had dressed as on Halloween?


commando costume

     As children, had they chosen the "Terrorist" theme or the Vigilant one?  I wondered.

commando machine gun for kids

        The sniper in Maryland had brought up a troubling question--was he a Terrorist or just "terrorizing."  

       The dilemma is trying to define a Terrorist versus a serial or psychopathic killer.   Terrorists are alleged to have a cause, while a serial killer may just kill for sport, such as Ted Bundy who picked only on victims who were brunettes.   In the case of John Mohammad, the alleged sniper, he was treated as both--employing resources of both local, state, and federal law enforcement, as well as engaging massive anti-terrorism resources including spy planes hunting for him overhead.
       I found the arguments as hollow as a pumpkin carved by the magic of one of the artists at Central Park who could transform a mundane orange ball into a variety of fun or ghastly figures. 

        Terrorism is all about infecting its victims with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.    They compose ranks of bullies who prey on the weak, defenseless, vulnerable, sticking knives or guns in people's faces, threatening them, and then telling them if they don't do this or that they'll hunt down their children and families and maim or kill them.   They thrive on turning human statue into masses of Jell-O.   They like to leap out from behind trees with ghoulish masks and scare a three-year-old into shrieking screams.
       Stephen Spielberg is one.  His movie Jaws has Terrorized thousands from every swimming in the ocean in peace.   Our older daughter, the mother of three who has faced guns pointing in her face in El Salvador, and risks her well-being working with the homeless in New York City from a variety of threats from disease to muggings--is more afraid of the ocean than she is someone attacking her.
       The parent who angrily turns to his or her child and shouts:  "I wish you were never born," or, the elegant, wealthy couple on the Upper East Side who pay a nanny to raise their children while they're busy on cell phones making money and teaching their children the important of social status while neglecting the child's desire to be loved for who he or she is, rather than what he or she can become, both rank in the Terrorist spectrum.    

        Fear of loneliness, Fear of not being loved, Fear of failing to meet parental expectations, Fear of not being good enough, Fear of not having loving arms to comfort the Terror of the mind--all add up over time into a State of Terrorism that can explode in a number of ways, from psychopathic killing, to child abuse, or to a never ending sense of Intimidation and utter Complacency that smothers the human spirit, and chokes off Vigilance's Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.
       The professors of forensic science are starting to lump Terrorism into one bowl--those who inflict Fear, Intimidation and Complacency upon others.   
       I'm glad.  
       It is far too easy to dissect something into so many parts that putting it back together becomes impossible even for those who cut the patterns in the first place.   We need simple definitions of Terrorism, not complicated ones.   We need to realize that Terrorism is not about foreign nations attacking what intelligence officers call "soft" or "hard" targets.    A "soft" target is a random citizen, like those at the World Trade Center, or the Russians who went to see a musical and were held hostage, or woman sitting on a bus bench in Maryland just before the sniper shot her.    "Hard" targets are the President of the United States, those who have lots of security around them, as though their lives were more valuable than the bus driver who was shot, or the 13-year-old boy who was at school.

      When I saw the "Terrorism" costumes worn by many of the young children at Central Park, I shuddered.   I wondered why a parent would stir the Beast of Terror in a child by letting him or her don clothing that gave him a "fantasy license" to feel he or she could Terrorize others with impunity?
       Of course, people say, it's all in fun.  But is it?   Is letting a child dress as a ghoul with the intent to Terrorize others breeding the power of the Beast of Terror?

       As a Marine, I know I had this sense of unlimited, god-like power in Vietnam.  In my hands I carried a weapon that could kill anything.  I also had a "free fire zone" authorization, which meant "if it moves, kill it."  After a while, such unlimited power of life over death overwhelms you.   Inside us all is our primal nature, and its key is a mask, a cause, a resentment, a sense of hurt, a need for revenge, a desire to show others we are "somebody," a thirst to "prove our power."
       I was watching the World Series last night.  I saw the pitcher and batter in a duel over who could Terrorize the other more.  Could the pitcher create more Fear than Courage, more Intimidation than Conviction, more Complacency than Right Action in the batter?   Or, could the batter focus only on Vigilance, and drive the Fear of striking out from his mind, shove aside the Intimidation of curves and sliders and change ups so that he only saw the seams of the ball in slow motion, and instead of becoming Complacent and swinging at air or just standing there as a strike popped into the catcher's mitt, could he drive the ball into a pocket or over the fence?
       This is professional Terrorism and Vigilance at its best--civilized combat, where each player is trained to combat their Beasts of Terror and call upon the Sentinels of Vigilance--the Babe Ruths, the Mickey Mantles, the Satchel Pages, the Pete Roses to guide them, urge them, protect them     

        I found it even more fascinating that the Giants had a dugout filled with children--their children--supporting them.  They were the Children of Vigilance, rooting on their fathers, supporting them.
        Why would a Parent of Vigilance let a child dress up in a Terror costume--representing a witch or the Devil or a ghoul?   The single intent of such a costume is to bring Terror Power to the child--to raise its awareness of the Beast Within.  
         My only answer was Complacency.
         Our world today is fighting a battle that far exceeds the threat of Saddam Hussein, or Osama bin Laden.   Our world is fighting against the John Mohammads.   It is fighting against those who watch the television ads about being "depressed," and turn their lives over to chemicals to balance out their sense of emptiness and self-defeat in a pressure cooker that demands "we be somebody."  
         In Russia, the Chechnya Terrorists were met with death, and unfortunately, more than ten percent of the hostages died in the assault, the majority choking on their own vomit from the gas the rescuers used to knock out the Terrorists holding more than 750 hostage.
         We can choke on our own vomit too if we're not careful.  We can gag ourselves trying to figure out what Terrorism is, and to isolate it from ourselves, as though we could push it away, shove it to some corner where it is "everyone else's problem" rather than ours, pretending we live "Terrorism Free" because we are "above it."
        No one is above the Beast of Terror.
        We all have our dark sides.
        We can all be enraged. We can all be hurt.  We can "wish someone else dead."  We can all turn from meek, quiet, unassuming "nobodies" into violent creatures just as easily as a child can don a mask with a skull's head and fake blood running through its popping veins and go out to "scare" people.

emotional terrorism

       Most murders are "crimes of passion," where one's Beast of Terror rises up from its cauldron and escapes in a fit of rage.   We forget the angry employee who walks into a building and starts shooting people because he or she lost a job, or was passed over for a promotion, or has massive financial problems.
        We forget too that such Terrorism exhibited by the Terrorists was bred into them by their parents.  We forget they were taught to feel oppressed, to feel victimized, and to revenge or avenge themselves.  
        We forget that often this training comes in the form of parental neglect, lack of supervision, lack of loving care, lack of getting down with a child and explaining the relationship between Fear and Courage, Intimidation and Conviction, Complacency and Right Action.   We forget to feel vulnerable in the presence of our children, and share with them how we fight our Beast of Terror.
        We deny our own Beasts of Terror, and righteously indignant those who exhibit theirs openly, as though we were not kin to it, above it, invincible to the same primal forces that drive the mad to madness.  This Complacency for our own emotional vulnerability camouflages the reality of our own Beast.
       Because we offer a home, amenities, food, money, clothes, we might be lulled into thinking our children are free from Terror.   But we forget Terror is all about loneliness--inner loneliness.
       We forget that Terror is bred in those who feel unwanted, unloved, unappreciated.
       That's why the Pledge of Vigilance contains the power to reverse Complacency.  It demands a Parent, a Loved One, to reconsider the fact that Terrorism is part of our daily thoughts, part of our daily lives, and part of our children's.

Families riding in hay wagons

       If one studies a single day and counts the number of times Fear, Intimidation or Complacency sweeps in and out of the mind, surging like an ocean, one might be surprised at its frequency.   And, in countering those feelings or thoughts, how often do we consciously call upon the Sentinels of Vigilance to help us conjure more Courage than Fear, more Conviction than Intimidation, more Right Actions than Complacency?
       And, do we really ask the question--"what's right for the children's children's children?" rather than "what's right for me?"
        Each day a child enters a world of Terrorism.   It's part of life.   How the child walks through that world depends on what costume he or she wears.

Sentinel of Vigilance with children

       A parent can dress a child in the ghouls costume by simple neglect, or Compliance.   He or she can let a child go out the door without a loving hug, without whispering in the child's ear how much he or she is loved, and cared for, and how important the child is.    A child leaving a house without such a Shield of Vigilance is vulnerable to all the Ghouls of Terror, and, in retaliation, may become one in self defense.
        On the other hand, a child who knows the Sentinel of Vigilance, his or her parents, has dressed him or her with love and caring and respect, can leave the house dressed as a Rescue Hero, or Wonder Woman, or Captain America, or Sponge Bob, or Cinderella, or Wendy Waters.

        Such a child can carry with him or her the Family's Shield of Vigilance, armed to cast off the Terrorisms of the day so that when Fear strike, Courage rushes to the rescue.  And when Intimidation slithers in the back door, Conviction can muscle its way to the forefront,  And when the sense of Complacency--defeat--nothingness--futility--strikes, he or she can call for the Right Actions, requesting support from the Sentinels of Vigilance to help him or her do the "right thing," the selfless rather than "selfish" act.
         I believe when we dress our children in the costume of Vigilance, Terrorism will shrink to its respective size--that of an ant not an elephant.

Oct 26--Women As Vigilant Peacemakers

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