The VigilanceVoice

Tuesday-- April 16, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 217

Scream Of Terror

"The Absence Of Vigilance"
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 16--I often wonder how to express the Terrorism of the Soul in terms that one can instantly understand.   Edvard Munch did it best with paints and a brush in 1893 at age 30 when he painted the epitome of internal Terrorism--"The Scream!"
       The Norwegian artist, often called the Father of Expressionism, lived another 50 years after he painted "The Scream," and died in 1944.  But he left behind a trail of paintings, all underpinned by the torment he felt within his psyche, and perhaps to those who view his works, a primal archway into the caves of Terror that are hidden in us all.
     In one of his paintings, "Self Portrait During The Eye Disease," Munch takes us into the artist's eye-ball, peering around a blood clot at his reflection in the mirror. (Munch's photo on left, circa 1892)
     Tormented, he lived alone, painting the angst of his inner soul, bringing out the Beast Within with such force and power that people around the world have taken his most famous paintings such as "The Scream" and used them to emblaze the image of "inner self" on coffee cups, t-shirts, and other memorabilia.
       America's current War On Terrorism, symbolized by the "hunt for bin Laden," seems to me to be precursor of a much larger war.   The bigger war is that within ourselves.   It is the war with our own emotional Terrorisms, the one that Munch so gloriously depicted in "The Scream."   It is about us hunting down the "bin Laden's Within" with same ferocity that George W. Bush has vowed to hunt down Terrorism abroad and within the boundaries of the United States.
       Even the Pope is worried about the war of Terrorism within his shepherds.   Yesterday, the Vatican summoned American cardinals to Rome next week to discuss the battlegrounds that endanger the Church's foundations.
      Previously, the Pope had turned a cheek on the issue, calling it an American problem.   His Complacency was replaced with Vigilance as the scandal has grown, and the impact of sexual Terrorism has shaken the earth under Peter's Rock.
      Reverend Thomas J. Reese, editor of America, a Jesuit magazine based in New York, said "the calling of the U.S. cardinals to Rome on such short notice is unprecedented."   In the U.S. there are 13 cardinals overseeing the Catholic Church.  The last time they were summoned by the pope was in 1989 to discuss tensions between the Vatican and Catholics in the United States over birth control and remarriage for divorced members of the Church.
      Cardinal Law of Boston, besieged by reports he covered up sexual abuse cases, had previously met with the Pope.
       Terrorism of the Cloth is only one element in the current Emotional War being fought against the brush strokes of Munch's portrait "The Scream."   In a world ravaged by discontent, Terrorism seems to be popping up in all sectors.
       The Israeli-Palestine conflagration is one that might appear to be a physical war, battling over land and rights of ownership, but the real issues run through the blood of the warriors.  It is fueled by thousands of years of hate and resentment, stirring within the souls of those who fight it such animosity that children are encouraged to strap bombs on their bodies and sacrifice themselves to the greater glory of a god that allegedly will reward them in Paradise for their attacks on the innocent, the helpless.
       At home, here in America, while the world casts stones at priests who molest their flock, there are fathers, uncles molesting their children, relatives.   There is rampant divorce, abortion, crime, drugs, alcoholism.
       If one were to raise the Flag of Terrorism only on soiled grounds where tormented souls were broadcasting to others their pains and twisted visions of the world, such a flag could find a home in just about any crack or crevice--even in the most hallowed sanctity of a church, or in the bedroom of a frightened child fearing the footsteps of her father who came nightly to abuse her.
      Munch's "The Scream" is not an anomaly.
      His works are on display in Atlanta, Georgia at the High Museum of Art.   It seems an appropriate time for the world to look upon one man's rendition of the soul's torment, to study the strokes of madness, and to see from within the Caves of Terrorism what seeds might lie within us all, waiting to be brushed onto the canvass of our own lives if we are not Vigilant in restraining them.
       I know that Terrorism of the Soul can be battled.  
       Vigilance was created to keep the Terrorists at bay--not only those of the order of Osama bin Laden, but those which Edvard Munch so poignantly display in his array of paintings from "within the dark corners of the human psyche."
       Suffering within is the result of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   We Fear our demons, we are intimidated by them, and, we often turn our cheeks as the Pope initially did on the sex abuse scandal.
       Vigilance, on the other hand, requires that we have the Courage to face Fear, and the Conviction to stand up to it rather than let it Intimidate us.   Most importantly, it requires us to take Action rather than to wallow in the Complacency of our primal nature, safely hidden in the caves of our own portraits of "The Scream."
        I believe those who died on September 11 are bringing to us messages far more important than the mere killing of bin Laden, or the extermination of al-Queda.   I believe the Sentinels of Vigilance want us to paint a happy face on Edvard Munch's "The Scream," not as a band aid or camouflage to our problems, but as we address them with Vigilance.
         Each person who takes the Pledge Of Vigilance and lives by its principles will help paint that smile a little deeper, a little wider, into the pigment of humanity.
         In the interim, "The Scream" stands as our symbol of what we can change.
  Semper Vigilantes.

 Go To April 15--The Torture Warrant

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