April 28, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 229
Mirror Mirror On The Wall--
Who's The Biggest Terrorist Of All
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
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
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
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."
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
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.
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