The VigilanceVoice
Sunday-- April 28, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 229

Mirror Mirror On The Wall--
Who's The Biggest Terrorist Of All

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 28--What should I write about today?  I am torn between the insanity of a young German youth who walked into his school and killed 17 people, 15 of which were teachers, or the that of Bishop Thomas Daily's letter telling parents they should talk to their children about sexual molestation.  Both events rank as stomach-wrenching events.
        First, let me express my absolute dismay over the way the press has promoted Bishop Thomas Daily's letter to the 1 million Catholic of Brooklyn urging them to talk to their children about sexual molestation--"to bring it out into the open," he said.
        A Parent of Vigilance would have already insured his or her child or children were well aware of the privacy of their body, and certainly wouldn't need a Bishop to issue a letter suggesting the Church had any power or mandate over what a child should or should not be told.
       How presumptuous and how late and how political was the letter, I thought.
       A Parent of Complacency, one who takes advice from others about the raising of a child and only does what is convenient, would embrace such a letter as a sign of power and authority from the Church.
       As the Bishop waxed on about the importance of telling children "the truth" I wanted to click off the television.   What good is a warning to the sheep that the shepherd if a wolf after everyone has already stripped the wolf of its disguise?   It's like Chicken Little running around yelling "the sky is falling" after it has crashed down and crushed all those unprepared who believed the sky was infallible.
       The absurdity of the letter is another example of the Terrorism not by the Church, but by parents who fall into states of Complacency and Intimidation thinking that another person or an institution should be in charge of a child's well-being, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
       What most concerned me about the press reports on the issue was that none of the newscasters bore down to the core of the letter--that it was absurd.   What right does the Church have to offer parental advice in an attempt to cover its tracks?   
        What the Bishop should have said is that parents need to be parents, and take total responsibility for their children's spiritual, emotional and physical security.   I wanted him to pound the podium and demand this problem was the result of parents' lack of Vigilance in knowing their children so well that any secret the child had, the parents should be trusted enough to be the first line of resistance.  He should have said the roots of the problem is the lack of communication on an inner level between the child-parent, and the fear of telling anyone was the fear of rebuff, the intimidation that the child might have done "something wrong," and that these feelings in a child were nothing more than the lack of trust and confidence between the child and the parent.  Now, that would have been a statement, worthy of a Bishop.
       I would have given Bishop Daily a Sentinel of Vigilance award for such a statement.   Instead, I wanted to flick off the television over his temerity and truculence, assuming he was in some way teaching others how to be better parents.
       Now, let's turn to my second irritant of the day.  It involves the horrible events in Erfurt, Germany where 19-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser walked into his school on Friday with a handgun and shotgun and killed 17 people, 15 of whom were teachers.
      The hero of the day, in my opinion, was history teacher Rainer Heise who ran into the gunman in the hallway and was reported to say:  "Pull the trigger.  If you shoot now, then look in my eyes."
      Mr. Heise was not afraid of dying.  He was not intimidated by the Terrorism of Rainer Heise.   He stood up to the bully in the boy.  He was Vigilant in the face of sure death, demanding the boy have the guts to look into his eyes before killing him, demanding accountability of the Terrorist on an individual rather than indiscriminate level.
      Prior to this encounter, the gunman had chased down teachers who ran, shooting them in the head, more than likely fueled by their Fear and Intimidation and the power he felt over them because they had expelled him.
     But Mr. Heise would have none of that.  He didn't run.  He stood and demanding the truth from his Terrorist--that the youth look him in eye before shooting him.   Perhaps that smack of reality snapped Rainier Heise back to sanity.   At that moment he lowered his weapons which were pointed at Mr. Heise and said:  "That's enough for today, Mr. Heise."  (picture of youth on right)
      At that moment Mr. Heise shoved the youth into a classroom and locked the door.   Then he ran to the principal's office to get help.  The youth killed himself in a final act of self-Terrorism.
      What I find in contrast between Bishop Daily and Rainer Heise is the priority of truth.   The Bishop didn't charge the parents with the responsibility for their children's silence over abuse.   In a circuitous way, he charged the children.   The implication of what the bishop said was that "if the children tell you what is going on, everything will be okay."  But that's not the point.
      Mr. Heise demanded that the killer look him in the eyes.   The bishop should have asked the parents of the children to look at themselves in the mirror, to study their own eyes and see where they had neglected to offer an environment of trust and take the responsibility for the security of their children upon themselves.  Instead, he asked the flock to look in the child's eyes.
      He had the wrong target.
      If the bishop should have admonished anyone, he should have demanded that parents no longer trust any institution to protect their children from emotional, spiritual or physical harm.  And that the real problem was with parents who are so trusting of others they become Complacent, or Intimidated or Fearful of challenging such institutions.   Instead, they turn their heads, offering their child to an "outside world" to be protected.   When the child finds the "outside world" is sometimes more harsh than his home, he bottles up his secrets, his pain, his anguish and buries them deep.
       Robert Steinhaeuser buried his fears, his intimidations, his complacencies very deep.   Finally they burst out in the form of killing.  
       In reading the stories about him I noted a quote by the Rev. Michael Goring, a Lutheran priest in the nearby village of Ingersleben.   He said:  "This does seem to be a sign that something is not functioning in the way society resolves conflicts," he said. "But the truth is, we just don't know yet what the larger meaning of this is."
        The larger meaning is about Vigilance.  It is about Parents of Vigilance who vow and pledge to fight the elements of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in a child from its conception forward.   And, if the parents are not willing to do that, there are Grandparents of Vigilance, Uncles and Aunts of Vigilance, Citizens of Vigilance and Loved Ones of Vigilance who stand ready to offer the child Courage in the face of Fear, Conviction under the weight of Intimidation, and Actions to replace Complacency.
        The issue isn't about resolving conflict.   That's after the fact.   The issue is about neutralizing the conflict in a child before it takes hold of his or her being, and drives the child into caves of loneliness and despair.
        Mr. Heise knew that.   When he asked his would-be killer to look him in the eye, he was asking the youth to communicate from the deepest part of his soul.  But it was too late.   It worked for a moment, but in the end, the weight of the youth's Terror crushed in on him.
       If there is a lesson from the bishop's statement and Mr. Heise's actions, it is that we cannot ask a child to communicate to us.    We must instead, as Parents of Vigilance communicate with the child.  It is our duty to build bridges of trust and confidence over which any secret can safely pass. 
       If we build such bonded emotional passageways, the child will gladly share his or her fears, intimidations and complacencies with us each and every day.  Through our Vigilance, not the child's, the child will learn our willingness to share our own Emotional Flaws--our Secrets Of The Self--and our openness will encourage the child to share his or hers with us. Only when there is a fair exchange of emotional gifts between two parties is the bridge of emotional trust secured.   This process begins with us looking ourselves in the mirror and seeing the reflection of our Inner Truths.  It  means we need to look in the mirror and see ourselves as the responsible party for telling our children what's inside us.  If we don't, then there will be no reason for a child to tell us what's going on inside him or her.
      To be a Sentinel of Vigilance, we must look see a Sentinel of Vigilance in the mirror, not an Inquisitor.  We must be willing to walk the delicate line of self exposure before we can expect our child to issue out any secrets he or she harbors.  
      But if we do this, we won't have to wait for a bishop to send us a letter telling us to "talk to our children."   We will have spoken at the deepest, most dearest depths possible, with Voices of Love and Vigilance that will protect, not Terrorize, our children.

 Go To April 27--The Art Of Bully Terrorism

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