The VigilanceVoice
Monday-- March 25, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 195

Venial Acts Of Non-Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 25--Little things mean a lot.  Or, do they?
        It's a big and little question.   How many times can I forget to be Vigilant before I'm Complacent?   How many times can I  turn my head to "what's right" before I become "wrong" for doing so?
        The Catholic Church is big in the news these days.   Dirty laundry is heaped on the sacred altars of trust, making many afraid that the Vigilance of the Shepherd was really the Terror Of The Wolf in disguise.
      How many times does a priest who knows something have to turn his head and not say anything before the crime he witnesses but ignores becomes his own?
       How many times does an employee watch a fellow employee rip off the company's stockroom before the petty crime of stealing becomes theirs?
       How many times can a parent come home and be "too tired" to play with his or her children and ask them about their day, and get involved in their schoolwork, in all the questions about life teeming from their sponge-like minds, before that parent becomes a negligent parent, a blind and deaf guardian of the child's emotional security?
       Every day we all face the Venial Sins Of Non-Vigilance.   Nobody's perfect.  
       Maybe it's just a little courtesy like holding a door open for someone instead of rushing in first, or offering a greeting to an older person who appears to be lost in the shuffle of humanity bumping and pushing by, or taking a moment from the hectic list of our personal worries and woes and making a gratitude list of things we have that dwarf the problems we face in quality, in purpose, in depth.
       Complacency is a habit.   
       In so many ways, it is a comfortable habit, because we don't have to "stop and think" about the impact of our words or deeds upon others--we just act "normally."   As our thinking narrows about what we do, who we are, why we are, our Complacency broadens, its path widens, engulfing almost all the beauty around us because the path it beats is the same, worn, well-trodden path we can hoof with our eyes shut.
       We walk the same way to the store every day.  We talk to the same people.   We avoid the same things we avoided the day before.  We think the same thoughts, continue with the same opinions about ourselves as we held just 24 hours earlier, and look to the future just as we did the day before, and probably will the next day, and the next.
       Vigilance cannot exist in the vacuum of Complacency because Vigilance requires Action and Alertness; and Complacency, by its nature, is the "lack of action--a state of satisfaction, of acceptance of things the way they are."
       This brings us to the "venial sin," and its cohort in spiritual crime, the "mortal sin."
       As my readers know, I'm not a religious man, but I am a spiritual one.   That simply means I believe the universe has some great plan, some far-reaching organization in which the good overpowers the bad in the long run, and where there is a responsibility for us all to seek to find at least 51% more good in ourselves and others than bad, so that we don't turn back into animals seeking solely survival at any expense.
       The Catholic Church is best known for the distinction of "venial" versus "mortal sin," although it is not the author of these two degrees of spiritual error.  Armenian theology also embraces the two concepts.
       The Catholic distinction between a "venial vs. mortal sin" is that venial sin doesn't put the soul in jeopardy of "going to Hell!"  It is a "simple sin" such as impatience, anger, stealing something cheap, getting slightly drunk. (Examples given are from Lesson 10, Mortal and Venial Sin,  
       A "mortal sin" is one that endangers the soul--one that cuts off one from God, and unlike a venial sin, is not pardonable.    The website gives rudimentary examples of getting very drunk, adultery, stealing something valuable."
      One other way of distinguishing between the two is that a venial sin is like trying to sneak something you want to do you know isn't right past God.   While a mortal sin is simply turning your back on God, or what's right, and doing it anyway.
      I'm not a theologian, neither am I here to promote religion or extol spiritual dogma at anyone.   But I find this issue of Complacency closely allied to the concept of a "venial sin."
       It seems as though somewhere in our chemistry as human beings our genes authorize the "lack of Vigilance" as a right to act with inaction--or, to be Complacent.   To compensate, we shuffle our responsibility to others so we don't have to face it ourselves.
      The child molestation issue in the Catholic Church is one big example.  Everyone is waiting for Cardinal Egan in New York City to fess up and admit the Church needs a sexual overhaul, but he's remaining tight lipped.    The Pope, holding off the winds of change to allow women to be priests and priests to be married, is swatting at the locust with his Papal Staff.
      Lawsuits are flying.  Exposes are being written.   But the volleys being fired at the Church all come from the people who were in it--people who had the responsibility to be Vigilant but fell into a state of Complacency because they abdicated that responsibility of protecting their children to men whom they "trusted!"
      I don't see much difference in the situation of the Catholic Church to that of the United States on September 11, 2001, or on December 7, 1941.   In both cases the citizens of America "trusted" their government to protect them from the "molestation of enemy forces!"   It didn't work.
     Citizens of a society cannot afford to turn the welfare of its children over to any institution, whether it be social, political or religious.  To do so is an act of Complacency!  And, a venial sin--taking the interpretation literally.
      Unfortunately, the members of the Catholic Church are more to blame for the problems of child molestation than the priests or the leaders who covered them up and shuffled the molesters to other parishes where they continued to violate children.
      The Church is full of men who are sacrificed their sexuality to become priests, and that by its very nature creates the biggest threat--one about which every Catholic knows but doesn't speak.    To ask a person to eliminate their sexual urges while being in the body of a human being fraught with frailty and twisted by temptation  is an absurdity that has finally exploded into the faces of those who turned their heads to the reality of human nature.
      I find it difficult to accept that a group of parents, or society at large, is shocked at the Church.   I wish our nation and media had attacked the U.S. Government with as much ferocity as they have the Catholic Church when the unexpected attack upon our nation occurred on Nine Eleven.
      Our government let us down just as badly as the priests who committed the heinous crimes against the children of the Catholic Church have done, and the Church leaders have been just as remiss in addressing the truth of the matter as our government's leaders have about how to fight Terrorism.
      Vigilance is the key to both issues.
      A mortal sin is when one turns his back on God, and a mortal sin is also when a parent turns his or her back on Vigilance, and puts the safety and security of his or her child in the hands of government, or religious leaders, or schools, or society.
      The child is blocked from the Sentinel of Vigilance when that happens, for no one has more responsibility or concern for the welfare of a child than his or her parents.  The buck of responsibility stops at the doorsteps of America's 100 million households, not only in the battle against Terrorism, but also in the battle against molestation, and other "high crimes" against the innocent.
        If Americans look deep into the issue of Terrorism they will see that its poisons--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency are not that well hidden.   They can be exposed, just as the Church's Complacency to fight molestation has been exposed.
        Instead of crying to the government to "fight Terrorism," Americans can chose to become Parents of Vigilance.   They can sign the Pledge of Vigilance and vow each day to replace Fear with Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and use Action to dislodge Complacency.
        They can renew a relationship with their children so that should another at any time attempt to molest them, or terrorize them in any way, the parent can be there to hold up the Shield Of Vigilance and quash the Terrorist.
       Members of the Catholic Church can rise up in protest against the archaic policy of celibate men singularly in charge of the ecumenical feeding of the flock, and force change to occur, while not relying on that change as ultimate protection against their children's welfare, but certainly more than existed prior to their action.
       But how many will act?
       How many will chose to turn their heads, offering up a venial sin of Complacency they think isn't a mortal sin?   But if they keep turning their heads, keep waiting for the U.S. Government to kill bin Laden, or the Pope to open the gates of the Catholic Kingdom to women priests and married priests, perhaps those countless venial sins will mount and grow and permutated into a mortal sin.
         Our U.S. coins and bills carry a slogan:  "In God we Trust!"  
         If this is the sole nature of our Trust, then we need to see God's face to know we are being protected.  And, when it comes to seeing God for me, all I have to do is look into a child's face.  There is God.  He or She exists in the child's innocence, in it's right to be safe and secure.
        And if I am the parent of that child, or the grandparent of that child, my trust goes no further than to the child.  I do not trust society, government, religion or politics to do what's right for my child or any child.   I trust only the sanctuary of parenthood, and the power of the loving, caring family to form a circle of Vigilance around the child.
        That can only be achieved by a Pledge of Vigilance--my Pledge--not someone else's, that I will be the child's Sentinel of Vigilance.
         Who is your child's Sentinel of Vigilance?

 Go To Mar. 24--Clouds of Vigilance

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