-- April 12, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 213
Bows & Arrows Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 12--"Indians always
asked the Great Spirit for permission before they killed anything.
They didn't just kill. They only killed animals
for food or clothing, but always with deep respect."
Matt 6 and Sarah 3, leaned over the kitchen table with toothsome
fascination as I began to draw the curve of an Indian bow on
the blank piece of paper.
and arrow were the Indians special hunting tools," I said,
carefully swirling the shape of the bow, curving it as I had
as a young boy in Oregon who had been both fascinated and envious
of the Indian culture that surrounded me.
The children pressed their faces close to the paper as the design
of a bow appeared.
when they cut down a tree with strong grain to make the bow,
they asked the Great Spirit for permission. They never
took anything from the earth without offering their gratitude,
their thanks. That's like a prayer. Indians
knew everything in life was a gift. They knew they
were part of, not the king of the land."
arrow? Where's the arrow?" Matt eagerly asked.
I drew a quiver,
a round tubular shape with fringe on it and designs that an
Indian might make with beads to adorn it.
"It's a quiver.
It's where the Indians kept their arrows. Like a
backpack. It was carried over the shoulder so all the
Indian had to do is reach up behind and pull out an arrow."
I showed them how
to reach up over their shoulder and pretend to pull out an arrow.
They both copied my act.
"The arrow, G-Pa?"
Slowly, I drew the shaft,
explaining how the wood must be very straight and strong.
Then I drew an arrowhead. I told them how the Indians
used flint and shaped the arrowhead so it would fit into a notch
in the head of the shaft.
"How did it stay in
without glue?" Matt queried.
I drew the tight wrappings
of sinew used to secure the arrowhead in the shaft. "They
used sinew (see picture on right
of sinew), Matt and Sarah. Its from animal tendons.
They tie it tight, like you do your shoelaces, when the sinew
is very wet. When it dries, the sinew gets real tight,
like a vice. So when the they shot the arrow the
arrowhead wouldn't fall out of the wood."
Then I drew a feather and
explained how the Indians cut it in two, and used the feather
to guide the arrow through the air, just like the wings of an
airplane keep it flying straight.
"What kind of bird
feathers do you think they used on special arrows?" I asked.
Sarah, snapped out her answer. "Eagle!
Eagle feathers, G-Pa!"
replied. Sarah and Matt were eager Discovery watchers.
Along with Nigel's Wild Animal World, it was one of the few
television shows given the thumbs up by their solicitous parents.
Sarah beamed, always triumphant when she beat Matt to an answer.
I drew the feather
on the arrow.
"Put the arrow
in the bow, G-Pa," Matt urged.
I drew the arrow
on the picture of the bow.
"Now, can you
draw an Indian using the bow, G-Pa?"
I replied, sketching an Indian and explaining the Indians headband
"When the Indian
shoots the bow, he or she pushes it out out with the left hand
and pulls the string back with the fingers of the right hand.
You push and pull at the same time until the feathers of the
arrow are at the side of your right cheek."
I demonstrated how
to pull the bow.
They aped me.
"I want to draw
one," Sarah said.
Matt replied. "G-Pa, draw another Indian with
a bow right in the center of the paper."
I got Sarah a blank
piece of paper and redrew an Indian pulling his bow back in
the center of a sheet for Matt. I left the table
and did some chores as they studiously scribed their imaginations
on the paper. When I took a look at their work,
Sarah had drawn a scene of the land, with trees and mountains,
a forest she said. They were shapes that she could see
exactly as she imagined, but took a little explanation for me
to see. "Very good," I said.
"And, what do
you have, Matt?"
At first I didn't
recognize it. Then I realized what it was.
In front of the Indian I had drawn pulling back his bow and
aiming his arrow, was a deer. It was little more square
"These are the
deer's antlers, GPa," Matt explained, as though he knew
the boxy shape wasn't as depictive as it could be.
"And what did
the Indian do before he aimed his arrow?" I asked.
"He asked the
Great Spirit for permission." Matt said it
matter-of-factly. "Who is the Great Spirit,
"Well, He is like God is to us. To the Indians,
the Great Spirit created the world, and everything in it.
Everything is connected. Everything has a spirit.
So that's why Indians ask permission. Everything around
them is a brother or sister, a gift, so they are very thankful
and never waste anything, or abuse the land."
the earth is the mommy and they are the children, G-Pa?"
Sarah looked up from her paper.
right. Just like the earth is the mommy and people are
the children," I retorted. "Very good."
was telling the kids the story of the bow and arrow, and of
the respect paid by the Indians to the land around them, I thought
of the purpose of Vigilance.
was about the indiscriminate killing of the physical or emotional
self. Vigilance was about not wasting life, yours
knew there were warring tribes of Indians--raiders who raped
and ravaged other Indians--looters--Terrorist Indians if you
will. But, like the Terrorists of today, they were anomalies
to the culture of Indian lore, they were the marauding raiding
parties that ran amok over the land, slaughtering the innocent
and helpless without respect to the Great Spirit, without consideration
that all were brothers and sisters.
"If you see everyone as your brother or sister, like the
Indians did, you become part of the world," I said to the
kids. "It is important to see the world as
a gift, like the Indians did, and everyone in it is part of
gift. That's important."
the Great Spirit is in everyone, G-Pa?"
Matt. That's right."
earth is the mommy, and we're all the children, G-Pa?"
Sarah had her Hello Kitty doll in her arms, hugging it.
how Terrorists could reach the point where they looked at the
world as selfishly as the wolverine. The other
evening we had watched Discovery on the life of the wolverine,
and the creature was voracious, eating anything and everything
in site. It even chased bears up trees to get to the bear's
ways, the wolverine was the most feared of all creatures because
it wasn't afraid of anyone or anything, and, its appetite to
eat beyond its means made it a shark upon the land.
While it was a symbol of bravery and courage, it was also a
signet of Terror.
I sidestepped the
issue of war arrows--special arrows the Indians made designed
to kill human beings. They were cut slightly differently
than hunting arrows. They were to protect the Indians
from the ravages of marauding tribes, from invaders who would
not respect the Great Spirits calling that all were to live
I thought of the Arrows
After the children's parents
came home I walked slowly toward my New York City East Village
teepee. I looked up into the sky. There, shooting
up in the crisp April night were two shafts of light from Ground
It was a memorial to the fallen
of September 11 that would be extinguished this Saturday unless
private funding was raised to continue the beacons of remembrance.
I saw them as the Arrows of Vigilance.
Standing in the light,
I imagined the Indians of Vigilance, the spirits of the victims
of the disaster of Nine Eleven, with bows taut, aiming in all
directions, warning the wolverines of Terror to stay away from
the lairs of the Children of Innocence.
Perhaps, I thought, if
all parents were Indians of Vigilance, the wolverines would
not have any Terror Food to consume--they would not glut themselves
on Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, the meat of Terrorism.
Perhaps, if they saw the Sentinels
of Vigilance with their arrows and quivers and bows all at the
ready, they would run away and hide and starve to death.
Perhaps the marrow of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Action--would
serve to rid the world of their petulance.
But then I remembered that Terrorism,
like the wolverine's appetitive, knew no boundaries, understood
no respect for anything than its own selfish hunger to consume
anything in its path.
So I pretended to reach into
my imaginary quiver and draw my make believe bow back, pushing
and pulling, ready to stand battle with those who might rob
my children and grandchildren of their right to live in peace.
Go To April 11--Terror & The
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