Article Overview:    Do we suffer on the Cross of Vigilance?   How does Mel Gibson's movie play to the skeptic?   Does it create more acceptance or rejection to a Higher Power?    How can we learn to be more Vigilant from this movie?


Monday, March 1, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 901
Suffering On The Cross Of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie

         GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 1, 2004 -- Yesterday my wife and I went to see Mel Gibson's move, The Passion.   Part of me didn't want to go.  The other part couldn't wait.

Good and Evil faced off in the Garden of Gethsemane

          Good and Evil faced off like it was the O.K. Corral from the first scene to the last.   In the "garden" the "good guy"--Jesus--writhed in agony over the "temptations" of "evil" while "evil" gloated.
           Just when you were wondering if Jesus was a whining wimpy ball of human sobbing flesh or not, He set the tone of the movie by crunching his jaw like Kirk Douglas and stomping the evil serpent's head under the heel of his sandal with a resounding, squishing thud.
             The garden scene was, to me, far more powerful than the bloody beatings given Him by the Romans.   Jesus was suffering self-inflicted Emotional Flagellation.   He was beating himself, wrestling with his internal demons.   It was He against the Beast of Terror, alone, in the misty night, on the eve of his death--just He and Evil, Vigilance versus Terrorism.       

Jesus was alone against the Beast of Terror

              It wasn't a pretty sight.  For anyone who has wrestled with his or her demons, who has felt the emptiness of their soul and the pythonic grip of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency coil about their chest and squeeze out the breath so that only short gulps of air sustain consciousness, the scene will suck you out of your chair.  It will mind meld you with Jesus--alone, disoriented, fighting to not be fully ingested by the voracious Beast who slithers about, consuming bits and pieces of His tattered soul.

Jesus set the tone of the movie by crushing the head of the serpent

         I related.   There was a stroke of masterfulness in launching the first scenes of the movie from an Emotional Suffering pad.   I rode the rocket, as though it were made just to thrust me into a fourth dimension of emotions, stripping me of my defenses.   My emotional chemistry was raw and virginal to the movie's desire to take me on a personal journey through the last twelve hours of Christ's life, whether I was a believer or not.
          I am a skeptic by nature.   I am the Doubting Thomas who had to stick his fist into the holes made by Roman Swords before he would believe Jesus rose from the dead.   I don't think that makes me bad, just cautious.
              But after the opening scene, my doubts were set aside.   Whatever magic was involved to uncloak those who challenged the authenticity of the "human" side of Jesus flourished.   I became part of the screen, a molecule of participation in all the events that were about to unfold.
                To me, the movie was about Terrorism versus Vigilance.  It was about the battle we face each day against our Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies.   It was about the other side, too.  The Courage, Conviction and Right Actions necessary to insure the safety of the Children's Children's Children.

I saw similar torture in Vietnam

      When the beating scenes unfolded, I grabbed my theatre seat.   I had been witness to similar torture scenes in Vietnam, where human beings were transformed into bloody stumps of ragged flesh by "beating sticks."   A sickness prevailed at such events, a dead horror that froze humanity's sense of right, suspending it as though evil had a way to capture the worst in human nature and hold it high like a chalice offering at Mass, only instead of resurrection inside, damnation filled the cup.

Witnessing the pain and death of Viet Nam  and Nine Eleven enabled me to bear witness to the inhumanity in The Passion

                   I clutched my seat even harder as I  saw the faces of Vietnamese prisoners instead of the man playing Jesus Christ.    My mind raced forward to Ground Zero, September 11, 2001, when I was standing beneath the Twin Towers looking up, watching human beings leaping to their deaths as the fire raged like Hell hovering 90 stories high.    There was no humanity that day as the moment of death pushed closer.  There was only a deafening silence and the cackle of the fires of Hell, not dissimilar to the laughing and jesting of the torturers who lashed Jesus' body, tearing His flesh but not his soul.
            On Nine Eleven I saw people jumping hand-in-hand from the Twin Towers.   They had joined hands as a symbol of their souls' strengths knowing full well their bodies would soon be gone.    In The Passion I viewed Simon of Cyrene (whom the Romans forced to help Jesus) and Jesus arm in arm on the back of the blood splattered cross.

Simon and Jesus struggled arm in arm to carry the heavy cross

        I recalled the defiance of a beautiful Vietnamese woman as she was tortured.   No matter how brutally she was struck, or how many bones were broken, she sustained her defiance until, with little left unbroken or unbeaten about her, she was lowered from the crossbeam, made to kneel in a bloody lump, and shot in the back of the head.
              I saw suffering in the movie not as a means by which Terrorism wins over the weak, but as tool of strength and a renewal of human dignity.   
               Those who cower in the face of Terrorism serve its thirst.    Terrorism is about creating Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
                The movie I saw yesterday was about Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit future generations.  It was about standing up for what is right in the face of those who wrong you.         

I learned from The Passion that Vigilance is about suffering

                 Vigilance, I learned from the movie, is about suffering.   It is about the passion one must have to do the right thing no matter how hard it is to either the flesh or the spirit.  
                   And each person must decide what those "right things" are, but it doesn't merit  too much thinking to arrive at them.   They are the selfless things.
                   If you think the War on Terrorism is over, you might find it interesting to go see Mel Gibson's The Passion.   If Terrorism is about our battles with the Beast of Terror inside us as well as outside, then the War on Terrorism has only just begun.
                 Instead of taking popcorn with you, you might carry some Pledges of Vigilance in your pocket or purse when you see the movie.  You can hold onto them tightly, as reassurance you have the power to stave off evil no matter what its attempts to conquer you, your children, your loved ones.


Feb 29--900 Days From Ground Zero Terrorism vs. Vigilance

Some Highlighted Stories From Last Year

Dec 31 Bush's New Year's Message:  Era Of Vigilance
Dec. 30
Walking The Path Of Terror: The 839th Day

Dec 29 Terrorism's New Year's Ball
Dec 27-28
Indiscriminate Terrorism:  Mother Nature's WMD
Dec. 26
The Beast Attacks Like The Mad Cow Disease
Dec 25
Learn The Secrets Of Vigilance On Christmas Day
Dec 24
Eve Of The Youngest Sentinels Of Vigilance Part V of V
Dec 23
Parable Of The Ant & The Leaf: The Third Secret Of Vigilance
Part IV of V from the Legends Of Christmas Vigilance
Dec 22
 Part III of V:  How Rock Candy Banished Darkness From The Land Of Vigilance
Dec 21
Part II of V:  The First Secret Of Vigilance
Dec. 20
Part I of V--The Legend Of Christmas Vigilance.
Dec. 19
What Do Michael Jackson & Saddam Hussein Have In Common?
Dec. 18
Torturing Saddam In The Zoo Of Vigilance
Dec 17
Interview With Saddam In His Iraqi Rat Hole
Dec 16
New Drug Fights Teenage Beast Of Terror
Dec 15 Capturing Weapons Of Mass Destruction:  Saddam Hussein

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