Monday-- February 18, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 160
Olympic Courage, Conviction
Wins Big Battle Over Terrorism's
Fear, Intimidation & Complacency
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 18--Vigilance overpowered
Terrorism at the Olympic Games last night. Courage pushed
Fear aside. Conviction smothered Intimidation.
And Action swept over Complacency.
After the smoke cleared,
the Gold Medal was draped over the heads of the Canadian figure
skating pair, a symbol that Vigilance not Complacency rules
Historically, bad calls
by Olympic judges are generally ignored. The International
Olympic Committee ( I.O.C.) as most governing bodies, likes
to keep controversy at bay. As an institution, it prides
itself on being "beyond corruption." It likes
to keep the facade gleaming that it is "in charge"
and "invincible." Otherwise, those who
look up to it as a model of might could become discouraged and
lose faith in its structure, believing the only way to "win"
was to "know somebody."
It wouldn't have been surprising
had the IOC left things as they were--"swept the controversy"
under the rug. It would have been "safer."
Everyone would have understood. Average families around
the world don't like their "secrets" laundered in
public either. They don't want the world to know
daddy is a drunk, or mommy is sleeping with her Yoga instructor,
or Mary is a compulsive nose picker, or that uncle Joe once
was convicted for burglary.
Corporate families don't like their
dirty laundry aired either. Enron certainly didn't want
its "dark secrets" flapping in the public's face.
Its CEO prefers to use the 5th Amendment to avoid letting the
world inside his glass house. Governments are notorious
for hiding their soiled sheets. Facing the truth
is not part of the average person's, society's or institution's
way of life; it disrupts what is; it endangers the security
of the insecurity.
Impropriety--a nice word for
crimes against others--is a blemish to organizations like the
Olympics who promote themselves as the epitome of fairness and
symbols of the "perfect order" of mankind and womankind
where everyone--regardless of race, color, creed or national
origin--receives an equal birth on the ship of competitive excellence.
A scandal within, a flaw in the
diamond of perfection, might bring the Olympics down to common
ground. It might reduce its status to a human flaw. It
might expose the character defects of its members--expose their
pride, anger, greed, lust envy, gluttony and sloth--the Seven
Deadly Sins that collide with judging the rest of the world's
excellence in a fair and impartial manner. To expose the
lack of excellence among judges would be to admit the deliverance
of a Gold Medal was just an opinion of excellence rather than
a fact of it; that it was just a piece of cold, lifeless metal
given not deserved, not earned upon a level playing field where
hairs split the difference between great and greater.
Those old, archaic ways of judging
Olympic Gold Medal skill were crushed by the fist of Vigilance
last night when the IOC presented the Canadian figure skating
pair with its Gold Medal in tandem with the Russian figure pair
The test to the Vigilance Formula is--
(Courage minus Fear) + (Conviction minus Intimidation) + (Action
minus Complacency) = Vigilance. It met that test with
flying colors last night.
Acting swiftly on evidence that the
French judge had allegedly agreed to "down mark" the
Canadians to allow the Russians to win, the IOC and International
Skating Union met and decided to air the impropriety of the
judge. Their decision was to award the Canadians a Gold Medal
in joint tenancy with the Russians.
Justice was swift and sweet.
While many criticize the decision to
award the medal, others lauded it as necessary to remove prejudice
in judging, and to set up firewalls to protect future athletes
from the political whims of judges whose human foibles can so
easily impair true judgment of an athlete's skills.
The choice to admit its fault
on the spot versus sweeping it under the rug was not an
easy one. It stirred the Olympic judging pot, bringing
to the to the surface the controversy of "how deep was
the collusion" between judges? How many countries
were involved? How long has this "trading of
votes" of one country in favor of another been going on?
Does this indictment invalidate all the Gold Medals given in
the past? Does it destroy the veracity of the judging
questions resulted in one answer-- "the need to change."
The IOC's decision ran a javelin deep into the heart of Olympic
Complacency about how athletes are judged. It threw the
spotlight on Vigilance.
Vigilance is all about facing
Complacency. Vigilance isn't about being right, it's about
"doing what's right to protect against the wrong."
It's the Boy Scout's Motto: "Be Prepared!"
None of us want to face Vigilance
in our daily lives.. Vigilance requires Change.
It demands we alter "proven past behavior" in favor
of "unproven future behavior." It sucks away
the sand upon which we walk and exposed the rocks beneath which
are far more difficult to negotiate until, that is, we eventually
find our footing.
Flawed as it is, the judging
system for figure skating has been evolving to what it is today
for nearly eight decades when the first Winter Games were played
in 1924 at Chamonix, France. Human flaws undoubtedly have
been part of the process. But no one dealt with them.
Complacency set in, as it does with all human affairs until
something happens, like Terrorists attacking America, or Enron's
collapse, or a Presidential voting decision being decided by
one county in Florida.
Humans tend to be "shocked"
out of complacency. Hitler rose to power over the turning
of heads. America was warned of Terrorism long before
the attacks. Parents ignore a
child's slamming of the bedroom door and the isolation of their
being until they walk into a school cafeteria and shoot their
classmates; a 77-year-old mother weeps in grief after learning
her son mowed down innocent women and children in his car in
the heart of Manhattan, telling the press--"he was such
a good boy."
We tend to compromise the Truth
until it becomes Complacency. We say, the gives and takes
between judges will, in the long run, even out. We allow
discrepancies as a "way of life," or we "table
the issue," because we have more "pressing" priorities.
Governments support one leader and then another, some good and
some bad, eventually hoping the money invested in both bad and
good will pay off with an ally not an enemy.
But in the interim of Complacency's
Compromise, bad things can happen.
We once supported Afghanistan
and Osama bin Laden when he was fighting the Russians.
We once offered aid to Iran and now embargo it. Our former
President once denied having any "sexual relations"
with that "woman" (Monica Lewinski) until she produced
a dress that smashed his lie.
As individuals we have make many
bad decisions in our lives, we compromise the present in hopes
we might make it up later on in the long run.
It's always easier to compromise than to change.
It's easier to deny than to face the truth. Truth is bare
and raw and often full of shrapnel that causes others pain and
anguish. To deal with the truth means we have to uproot
the lie, rip it out of our existence and cauterize the wounds
it creates. And then, worst of all, we have to deal with
the gap it leaves--the emptiness, the vacuum. The
hard work is replacing it with something to fill the hole.
Like the World Trade Center. It is now a giant hole in
the ground, waiting to be filled with something--a new building,
a monument. But it is hard to grow things out of
scar tissue. To quit smoking we replace a bad habit
with hopefully a good one, not another bad one.
To face Complacency, we must replace it with Action.
Change. Evolve, for the effect to be positive.
Usually, this change means
new behavior. We have to re-learn, re-evaluate, re-test,
re-apply our selves until we "get it right."
It means our lives will be upset in the process, that the way
we once lived or thought or acted must alter and evolve to meet
the needs of the truth. Once exposed we cannot afford
to go back to what we were without a severe cost to our self-worth..
The truth makes hiding from the lie virtually impossible.
That's why Vigilance is not an
easy way out. Complacency is far more attractive.
It's much more comfortable to stick our head in the sand than
to go nose-to-nose with the truth--the need to change.
Human beings aren't easily moved from one set of beliefs and
actions to a new set.
We are victims of routinization. We like our ruts,
even though the difference between a rut and grave is
only the depth. The Law of Nature says: "if
we don't grow we go." We get lost in time.
We become anachronistic sticks in the mud, immutable to change,
brittle and ultimately dispensable. To refuse change is to refute
Time. Everything changes--the Seasons, life into
death, happiness to sadness, sadness to happiness, right to
wrong, wrong to right. We forget the earth spins
at 1,000 miles per hour each and every day. We forget
we aren't standing still. We forget that when we
say "I'm just coasting," the reality of that expression
means we're going down hill, backwards, because gravity forces
us to work ourselves up, or pulls us down. There is not
That's what I liked most
about the Olympic Committee's decision to admit the flaw in
judging and to award the Canadians their Gold Medal along with
the Russians. It was an opposite decision to their allowing
the U.S. World Trade Center Flag to be marched into the stadium
during the "Parade of Athletes."
I considered that decision
not a Vigilant one, but the result of "political pressures."
That was not an act of Vigilance in my opinion, but rather an
act of Complacency fueled by Intimidation and driven by the
Fear of alienating America. Unfortunately, it opens
the door to any country wishing to express its grief over atrocities,
and to turn the non-partisan affairs of the Olympics into a
forum for world politics. I considered that decision by
the IOC a reaction to Internal Terrorism--a kowtowing to pressures
that had little to do with truth or the evolution of it.
And I'm a flag waver. I kneel before the flag and
honor it. But not during the Olympics.
Our flag in that venue belonged of equal size and weight as
all other flags, no bigger, not smaller, no better, no worse.
Conversely, the decision to award
the Gold Medal to the Canadians was truly a Vigilant one--worthy
of the historic roots of the Olympics. While the
Olympic Torch might have
dimmed at the beginning of the ceremonies when America forced
its flag to dominate the opening, it blazed brightly when the
Gold Medals were draped on Canadians last night in Salt Lake
I knew the Sentinels of Vigilance would
be happy. These guardians of "right over wrong"
who swirl around the world's disaster spots, cheered.
They saw the IOC drive out Fear, Complacency and Intimidation
with their decision to award the Gold to both the Russians and
The Sentinels know
the danger of "turning the other cheek" in hopes the
"evil" will go away. They know it won't.
It only festers, digs deeper roots, clings more voraciously
to "tradition" until it chokes a society or a family
or an individual to a whimpering death, wallowing in a quagmire
of denial that leads only to more vulnerability, more corrosion
of the self, the society, the institution.
The Olympics is a forum for Vigilance.
If there are three words that sum its essence, they are Courage,
Conviction and Action. They are not popular words
for most of us who find ourselves comfortably snuggled in our
ruts of life, happy with the status quo, not wishing to change
anything for fear of upsetting the apple cart.
It is easier to not turn in an Enron and take your paycheck
each month in hopes the "leaders" will correct their
error and your retirement won't be endangered than to blow the
whistle on them.
It is easier to flick on the television and
shove in a video than to sit with your child after school and
discuss the day's events. It is easier to ignore the formation
of a child's character than to burrow into its mind to know
what he or she is thinking, to help the child face his or her
Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies and teach them how to
convert them to Courage, Conviction and Action.
It's easy to say to the world events: "that's
not my business" and get on with the daily job of making
a living and trying to smooth out our own bumps in the road
than to take on the challenges of self leadership or community
service better served by the "do gooders."
It's easy to turn the security of our homes,
our neighborhood, our communities, our state and our nation
over to the Homeland Security than to become a Parent or Citizen
of Vigilance, vowing to ward off Internal Physical and Emotional
Change is a bitch. I don't
want to change. I want it "easy."
I want to ignore the responsibility to evolve. It's
far more comfortable to accept than to question, to "go
along" than to "fight."
That's why the Gold Medal award last night
was so important to me.
It reminded me of how Vigilance can work in our world and touch
millions of lives when people chose to stand up in the face
of Complacency, Fear and Intimidation.
While the decision will cause an upheaval
in the structure of judging, it will give the Olympics a new
face--the face of Courage. It will tell young children
vying for a spot on their country's Olympic team that they too
will have a better chance at winning by being judged more fairly.
It will give the Olympics a greater sense of stature It
will insure its future.
Enron officials should take a lesson from
I salute the Olympics. The Sentinels
of Vigilance are smiling down upon them, and all those who chose
to face the truth despite its painful fallout.
Now, I need to learn from that lesson.
I need to apply that same Courage to my life, to face some of
my lies, my deficiencies of character. After all,
life is nothing more an Olympic Competition where we are charged
with the Olympic Cry--"Let me be Victorious or my attempt
Perhaps I'll modify that for my own evolution
and say: "Let me be Vigilant, or my attempt not Complacent."
Perhaps the Sentinels of Vigilance will smile
down upon me too someday, and say, "Attaboy!"
Semper Vigilantes--Always Vigilant!
To Feb. 17--Where Have All The Cab Flags Gone--Terrorism of