Article Overview:  How do you define Terrorism?  Do you know what it is for you?  For your loved ones?  Can you state its definition in terms that will limit Terrorism to a speck of dust instead of giant dark shadow?   You can.   Read on.


Monday--February 24, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 530
 What Is Terrorism?
Your Definition Is The Answer
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 24--What exactly is the definition of Terrorism?  And, if we are waging a War on Terrorism, who then are our enemies?
I was scanning the news this morning when I spotted a project in the Christian Science Monitor.   The newspaper offered readers an interactive set of questions to help them define what Terrorism was.   Authors of the project presented their views, but each skewed one direction or the next, leaving the reader uneasy because Terrorism is like a pile of clay.  It can be shaped by whomever's fingers are molding it at the time.
       President George Bush defines Terrorism and those who harbor it one way.  The United Nations defines it another.   Each state or nation offers its tweak to the definition, and then there are 6.2 billion people on earth, all of whom may have their particular take on what "Terrorism" means to them.
       But the word begs clarity.  

Project in this morning's Christian Science Monitor

       If the world is at "war" against "Terrorism," and nations are shaping policies to either support or retreat from those who lead the anti-Terrorism parade, then for no other purpose than class-room serenity, the need for a common definition screams to be scrawled into our common-sense, universal vocabulary.  And, it needs to be simple.
       The Monitor's interactive piece ( this morning helped me realize the VigilanceVoice has made a giant step toward defining Terrorism at the grass roots level.  But to appreciate our simplicity, we need to look at what the world is doing to complicate the definition, or, not defining it all.
       Currently, politicians are in charge of clay-shaping  Terrorism's definition.   Their respective answers depend on their pro- or anti-American position, or how much twist and turn they force on Terrorism to fit the expedience of national policy.
       There can be little doubt the definition that France and Germany--two of the biggest critics of American policy against Iraq--have turned their Terrorism definitions into an object far different than the one George Bush has spun.

But first.....what is Terrorism?

        Is Saddam Hussein a Terrorist or simply a despot?   Is Kim Jong Il a Terrorist or a Hitlarian leader seeking power?   Is Osama bin Laden a Terrorist or a religious radical?
        Those who go to the Monitor site and play the interactive game, which leads one to pick a definition of Terrorism and then apply certain scenarios to see if indeed those scenarios are "Terrorism Scenarios" or belong in another category, will end up shaking their heads.  Confusion will replace what one thought was clarity for the very nature of Terrorism is mud.

The nature of Terrorism is mud

         Terrorism's great goal is to strike Complacency into its victims, immobilizing them in a quagmire of confusion.  If they step to the right, it might be more quicksand.  If they step to the left, perhaps that's where the end of the earth begins.
          Understanding the politics of defining Terrorism like being caught in a minefield.   You simply have to freeze.  
          Because you can't define or understand Terrorism with exactitude, you feel powerless.  The battles going on in the United Nations over giving Saddam Hussein more time to disarm is an object lesson in the push-pull complexity of defining Terrorism.   Even though he hasn't offered much help in disclosing his weapons, the U.N. believes his "intent" is worth granting him more ticks on the clock until the inspectors can dig deeper into the sand where many of the weapons are buried.
         Then there is the question of America's intent.  Is America simply throwing labels of Terrorism at Saddam Hussein to depose him and gain control of the rich oil fields?   After all, there is no direct link between Osama bin Laden and Hussein, and, there is no "smoking gun" yet found that would suggest Saddam Hussein is planning some great assault on the world, or wishes to export his weapons to attack innocent people in America.
         It makes one unable to pull his or her feet out of the muck.   It tires one to come up with concrete answers especially when the founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream splash their faces on television and list down the $200 billion budgeted for war and show the world how it can be used in America to offset budget deficits, educate children, and provide health care for the disenfranchised.
         It makes you wonder if the Terrorist isn't George Bush not Saddam Hussein.

The quagmire of Terrorism's meaning  is confusing e.g. Is Bush a Terrorist?

         Mire and murk confuse, disorient, intimidate and isolate us from the real challenge of Terrorism. 
         We begin to think Terrorism is some entity outside of us, some "thing" that exists apart of us, hanging on some thread in the distance spinning in the haze of night and day, a nebulous ball of wax that is better left to idiot savant politicians whose whole lives are about making up definitions that fit policy, rather than policy that fit definition.
         If you're not sure about your take on the issue, stop right now and write out your definition of Terrorism.  If you hedge on it, maybe you're stuck in the same quagmire most people are--"What Is Terrorism?"
         Then, if you think you have the answer, try explaining it to a child.  See if a child can understand it, for the test of any good definition is its ability to be understood by a child who sees things in blacks and whites, not in the grays that muddle adult thinking.
          For 530 days, and at the expense of more than a million words(1,000,000), the VigilanceVoice has proffered its definition of Terrorism.
          Unlike the political pundits who seek to define Terrorism as the "state of a nation," or the "state of a band of gangsters who should be driven from power," the VigilanceVoice has sought to find the definition of Terrorism from within each and every human being who currently exists, all who have trudged on this earth before, and all who will walk in our footsteps in the future.
          It is our belief that Terrorism is as clear as our fingerprints, as defined as our faces, and as real and vivid as the sun's rising and the moon's setting each and every day.
          Anything less than such a definition of Terrorism would serve Terrorism's primary goal--Complacency.  It would deny the average person access to recognizing it, and through the disguise of confusion, would allow Terrorism to slip in and out of detection as Osama bin Laden has over the past 530 days.

         The lack of defining Terrorism would also make each citizen on earth vulnerable to accepting the politician's definitions, which, like the tides, ebbs and floods as the geo-political situations shift.
          Worse, it would deny a parent, grandparent, or loved one the right, duty and opportunity to explain to a child what Terrorism was, how the child can recognize it, and how the child can defend himself or herself against it.
          Terrorism, we believe, has three primary components that need little definition:  Fear!   Intimidation!  Complacency!
          The three elements are bonded as any element.   Water, for example, is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, thus; H20.   Terrorism equal Fear, plus Intimidation, plus Complacency.
          One of these cannot exist without the presence, in part, of the other three elements.  Complacency ultimately is the result of Fear and Intimidation--it is the giving up, the abdication of effort to resolve or face an issue.   Fear, the thought of losing something, and Intimidation, the sense of not being able to achieve a satisfying result, force Complacency to take many forms such as "who cares," or "that's not my business," or "so what can I do about it," or, "leave it to the experts."
          Terrorism, in its final form, is powerlessness.

Victim of Terror = Powerlessness

          It is the sense one gets that the ball of wax is so large and unwieldy that no matter how one tries to shape it, the form never takes the shape one wants.   Take one's life for example.   Nothing one tries seems to work, so stop working to change it.   Fall into a rut.   Be the victim, the doormat, the cog in the wheel.    Fall into the mainstream.   Go along.   Accept what is because nothing can change the tides.   Go to work.  Pay your bills.   Go to sleep.  Wake up.  Go to work.  Pay your bills.  Go to sleep.
          Whatever you do, don't dream.   For when you do, your dreams will be smashed by the hammer of reality.   After all, we're all nails and the world is a hammer.
          Not really.
          Average people, the mass of humanity, want average lives.   They don't want war.  They don't want conflict.  They want to live in peace and quiet.   They want to exist free of the arrows that fly, the bullets that crack overhead, the economies that rise and fall, the governments that come and go, the leaders who rise to power and are replaced by other leaders, ad infinitum.
          But the world is no longer average.

Terrorists shout 'gotcha' to America

          Terrorism has changed that.
          The world is at war against Terrorism, and can't define it, or, at least struggles to find its definition in the morass of issues plaguing the world today.
          Never before has the world waited for the next Terrorist to attack.
          Never before has the world tuned into CNN to see when the next weapons of mass destruction might be unleashed in a subway, at a school yard, in a remote village.
          That's why the definition of Terrorism is so critical today.  It's a vital part of everyone's life because Terrorism can pop up on the most unsuspecting doorstep, in the most non-strategic location imaginable, making any and all potential victims of its wrath.
          A few months ago in a resort in Africa an SUV filled with explosives drove into a tourist compound and blew up people there on vacation.    In Bali a bunch of young people at a nightclub were bombed--Paradise was raped.

The world fears random Terrorism as well as targeted attacks

         The world saw the destruction on television, examined it on the Internet, shivered at the thought they could be just as subject to the indiscriminate, senseless attacks as anyone on earth, for Terrorism, by its nature, does not target strategic objects as much as it does seek to blow up the psychological security of the average human being, turning everyone into scared rabbits.
          The United States, one of the most powerful nations in the world, recently radicalized its government structure and created a cabinet post for Homeland Security--an anti-Terrorist bureaucracy designed to make Americans feel more secure.

The United States created Homeland Security to try to make Americans feel more secure

         In Russia, Cultural Theater attendees out to enjoy a new  musical were held hostage and hundreds killed as the government sought to neutralize the Terrorist threat.
          Last weekend the United States issued a Second Degree Terror alert, driving citizens in fear of a biochemical attack to the local hardware stores for duct tape and plastic sheets to secure their windows.
          And yet we have difficulty defining Terrorism.
          We shouldn't.
          Terrorism has a distinct face. 
          It is the face of the Beast of Terror.
          It is the sum of our primal fears, our primal natures.
          It is the Freudian Id, that elusive part of the human mind we try to bury and distance ourselves from as we pretend to be "civilized."
          It lives in the mind of every child who is afraid of the "closet monster," or the "thing under the bed."
          It grows within us when we look in the mirror and see ourselves as "not worthy enough," "not pretty enough,"  "not smart enough," "not happy enough," "not rich enough," " not loved enough."
          Terror-cancer  hides inside our thoughts, eroding our constitutions as human beings, telling us that we are "powerless to change," that we are just a "Voice in the wilderness," that we are only a "grain of sand on the beach."
         It disenfranchises us from our dreams, it marginalizes us to "be nobody special," and to "resign ourselves to our lots in life."
        Our Beasts of Terror are all the same.
        If we all dumped them in a pile, they would be brothers and sisters, all cut from the same cloth.  They would be the sum of our Fears, our Intimidations, our Complacencies. 
        When someone asks you to define Terrorism, you might want to consider not trying to use Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, or Osama bin Laden as the symbols for your definition.
        They are only the manifestations of, not the definition of, Terrorism.
        Terrorism is far more insidious than the global people who represent it. 
        The Terrorist is us.
        We are all Terrorists.  
        We all are capable of issuing unto others Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   We are capable of that because we are all victims of it.   
        No human being, from the Pope to the Pauper, is void of the presence of the Beast of Terror.
        But we do have a choice in whether we want the Beast of Terror to live in us unrecognized, unexposed, unmanaged, or, we expose the Beast of Terror and remove his hiding place within so he can longer haunt us as he has for eons.
        We can do this by becoming Parents and Citizens of Vigilance.  We can take the Pledge of Vigilance and vow to not allow the Beast of Terror roam within us unchecked.

Become a Parent of Vigilance and break the bonds of servitude to the Beast of Terror

        We can break the bonds of servitude by looking the Beast of Terror in the eye and holding up our Shield and Sword of Vigilance, announcing to him:  "I know who you are, where you live, and what you want. You are no longer safe within me, my children, my grandchildren or my love ones.  I am going to war against you, Mr. Beast of Terrorism.  I am going to drive you back into the caves where you belong, and keep you from infecting my children, or my Children's Children's Children."
          Sound too simple?
          Profound things are simple.
          Terrorism is very profound, for it is extremely simple--create Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in others.   Watch others scramble in confusion trying to counter it.  Laugh at them.  Enjoy the power.
           Recall the tape of  Osama bin Laden eating with his brothers and finding out that the Twin Towers had fallen.  He was elated.  He wanted to strike Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into the heart of America, but delighted in the fact it resulted in far more than he expected.
            At least Osama had a goal with his Terrorism, however cruel and indifferent it was.
            But then there is the parent of the child who has no time to "love the child."   He or she is "too busy," and tells the child, "I love you but I have other more important things to do than to play with you."
            The child retreats into the Fear of being unloved, into the dark, dank corners of loneliness, emptiness.
            Or, the parent who looks at a child and shouts, "Don't bother me, can't you see I'm busy!"  Or, worse, the one who grabs a child by the shoulders and screams, "I wish you were never born.

Know the true meaning of Terrorism and share the Vigilance with your children

           Or, the parent who turns to the child and spears its heart with, "You're just like your no-good father, or no good mother."
            Does the child feel Fear?  Intimidation?  Complacency?
            Has the Beast of Terror struck as hard against the child as Osama bin Laden's planes struck the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon?   Has the child's Ground Zero been decimated once again?
            Parents of Vigilance are those who recognize the presence of their own Beast of Terror.  They have the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions necessary to admit to themselves that the Beast is Within, not without.
             They bite the head off the Beast.  They subscribe to the Principles of Vigilance that ask them to act in behalf of the Children's Children's Children by sharing their Fears, their Intimidations and their Complacencies with their children.
           They build bridges of trust between themselves and their children, teaching their children how to combat Fear with Courage, and Intimidation with Conviction, and to shove Complacency aside with the responsibility to act to the benefit of future generations--for the Children's Children's Children.
           Parents, Citizens and Loved Ones of Vigilance wake up in the morning and redefine their Pledge of Vigilance daily, aware that if they don't the Beast of Terror will sneak out of his hiding place and work his way once again into the pilot seat of human thought and actions.

The Tree of Vigilance blooms after the roots of Terror are dug up and exposed

           So when someone asks you to define Terrorism, you can look them in the eye and say, "How I treat myself, my children and the Children's Children's Children."
          When they say, "What do you mean?" you can reply:  "When I teach my child or loved ones how to overcome Fear with Courage, how to battle Intimidation with Conviction, and to shove Complacency to the side by taking Right Actions for the Children's Children's Children, I'm Vigilant.  When I don't, I'm a Terrorist."
          When you have mustered the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to make these statements, or ones like them, you will have defined Terrorism at the grass roots.
          You will have dug up the roots of the Beast of Terror and sent him scurrying.


Feb 23--The Ugliest Side of War:  Lone Wolf Terrorism

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