The VigilanceVoice

Friday... February 1, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 143
Expecting the Unexpected
From Terrorism
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City--I expect the unexpected from Terrorism.  I have to.  Otherwise, I'll ignore its presence, and go about life like it didn't exist.
        I awoke to the news of Terrorists threatening to attack nuclear power plants, to a Wall Street Journal captive being threatened with execution if Terrorist demands were not met, and a headline about computer terrorism.
            Unfortunately, the threats seemed like invisible bullets winging past my ear.   I remember in Vietnam the first time bullets snapped and crackled and exploded by my ear, I shook with fear.  My mortality was at risk.  After being in a few battles, you acquire a sense of invincibility--some might call it complacency others, courage--where you don't believe the bullet is coming your way even though lots of dead bodies are splattered around you.
           The Terrorism threats vomiting off  the newscasters' lips seemed to sound like noxious mosquitoes rather than angry killer wasps.    I listened hard, trying to rally the emotional vigilance to feel afraid or concerned or have the desire to rush around preparing for the worst.

Oddly, I have been taking pictures of fallout shelters in New York.  They are hidden little funny symbols, usually covered with soot and dirt from misuse, or no use, and make me wonder what a city of eight-million would do in a nuclear threat.  Where would people go?
          I grew up in the nuclear threat of post World War II, and have experience as a child crawling under my desk and pulling my shirt up over my neck so I'm prepared.  (Light humor intended).
          I have been intending to find a website listing all the fallout shelters in New York City, and just out of interest, visiting them to see if you can get in them.  The two I saw had locks on them, and a buzzer, and I suspect they have been converted into apartments.
          Nuclear warnings are also a burr under my saddle.  I went to a coalition on terrorism meeting not to recently, and suggested the coalition provoke the city to practice nuclear alerts.  My point was most people didn't even know what a wailing siren meant, or, what to do if it went off.    I'm sure the city of New York isn't so sure either.
          These thoughts shot through my mind and then fell to the earth like a spent bullet, plopping harmlessly, with no impact.  
          I wondered how many people were tuning out the "terrorism news?"  How many were overloaded with threats?  How many had decided the "war was over?"

 As a Vigilance Warrior, I know the war on Terror will never be over.   Terrorism has, as I believe, many forms, and if Osama bin Laden doesn't fit the bill then perhaps overdue bills, or a doctor's appointment to check an irregular heartbeat, or a child's soaring fever will shake one's foundations. Terror walks in many shadows.  That's why I need to be "ready for anything, counting on nothing."   And, to "expect the unexpected."  If I don't, my Shield of Vigilance drops down--I start to tune out the news, and want to live life free from scares and worries that seem far too distant from me to be worth my time.
          Fortunately, because of the Pledge of Vigilance, I am aware of Terror in the world--especially my world--my selfish little center of the earth.   I know that fear, intimidation and complacency can drive me into a cave from whence I might timidly peek out but never boldly venture far from its dank womb.
         Maybe that terror is about going to the doctor for a checkup because I'm afraid of what he might find, or, facing up to some issue within myself I'd rather avoid, or trying to build up wealth in a rat race of just trying to pay the bills.

 I remind myself that my complacent attitude toward media "Terrorism News" parallels my outlook about dealing with my own "Terrorism."   If I ignore the internal emotional "fears," "intimidations," and "complacencies" which haunt me as a human being, they only grow.   I must remind myself that mosquitoes can become bumble bees, and morph into killer wasps which hunt you down and can viciously sting you to death.
        I cocked a Vigilant ear to the news.  I refocused my thinking.
        I knew I must listen.   If I am a Parent and Grandparent of Vigilance, I need to keep my eyes on the horizon.   I need not only to look at nuclear power plants being attacked, but what about the elan vital, the life energy of a child attacked by parents or or children or teachers who depreciate or abuse the child, rob it of its will and energy to evolve.
       While it might be hard for me to whip up a vision of another hi-jacked plane smashing into a nuclear power plant, I could see a mother shoving her five children under the water of the family bathtub, drowning them one by one.   But Andrea Yates had done that to her children, snuffed out their lives because of her own Terror Within.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York

 For me to accept the role of a Warrior of Vigilance, a Parent of Vigilance, a Grandparent of Vigilance, who, as a single individual could have an impact on the world of Terrorism--I needed to think in Andrea Yates' shoes.  I needed to understand that if she had been a Parent of Vigilance, and fought her own fears, her own intimidations and her own complacencies, then perhaps her children would be alive today.   Perhaps TIME magazine wouldn't have to devote page after page in their Jan. 28 issue trying to "figure out" why something far more horrid than a Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, happened on June 20, 2001, when Andrea Yates hunted down her children and shoved them under the bathtub water.
        I like to think that those who become a Parent of Vigilance just might shift their thinking from themselves to their children, and might fight the fears, intimidations and complacencies that haunt some.   
        So when I heard the nuclear plant threat, and my mind started to refute it as another media hype, I shifted my thinking.   What if the nuclear energy of a child was attacked by a neglectful parent, would I be complacent then?  
        I didn't think so.
        I nodded at the news.   "Thanks," I said, "for reminding me to ready for anything, counting on nothing....and to expect the unexpected."

Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 31--The Right To Be Wrong--And It's Terror

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