The VigilanceVoice
Friday -- April 12, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 213

Bows & Arrows Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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."
         My grandchildren, 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.
         "The bow 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.
         "Even 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."
        "Where's the 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.
        "What's that, G-Pa?"
        "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!"
       "Exactly," I 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?"
        "Sure," I replied, sketching an Indian and explaining the Indians headband and feather.
        "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.
        "Me too," 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 than round.
        "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, G-Pa."
        "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."
         "Like the earth is the mommy and they are the children, G-Pa?"  Sarah looked up from her paper.
         "That's right.  Just like the earth is the mommy and people are the children," I retorted.  "Very good."
          As I 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.
          Terrorism was about the indiscriminate killing of the physical or emotional self.   Vigilance was about not wasting life, yours or others.
          I also 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."
         "Like the Great Spirit is in everyone, G-Pa?"
         "Yes, Matt.  That's right."
         "And the earth is the mommy, and we're all the children, G-Pa?"   Sarah had her Hello Kitty doll in her arms, hugging it. 
         "You got it."
         I wondered 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 food.
        In 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 in harmony.
       I thought of the Arrows of Vigilance.  
       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 Zero.

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.

       Semper Vigilantes.

 Go To April 11--Terror & The Lollipop

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