The VigilanceVoice
Thursday-- May 23, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 254

Doctor Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 23-- I was asked the other day what I did for a living.
        I bit my tongue before I answered.
        Sometimes it's hard to launch into a discussion that I write about
Terrorism and Vigilance daily.   Not everyone understands the idea, or, if
they do, they pretend to be interested and then politely walk away.
         I've thought about telling them I'm a doctor.   Everyone wants a
doctor to give them inside scoop on medical issues.    Doctors hate "doctor
conversations" for they feel they are giving out free advice.
         I've thought about saying, "I'm a doctor.  A doctor of Vigilance.  I
fight the virus of Terrorism.  Look out!  You have one in you.   There? 
Can't you see it?   You need immediate treatment!   You're very infectious."
        I'm not sure I would have a big crowd around me.   Terrorism talk is
about as exciting as discussing venereal disease.   It's one of those taboo
subjects that cause people to think about the airport signs that warn: 
"Anyone joking about bombs will be immediately arrested."
         Society isn't social about the "T" word.   They recoil from it as
though it were a venomous serpent they stumbled on in the dark.  
         Vigilance gets about the same kind of reaction, without the shock
effect.   Few people are engaged by the word, or find it something they want
to sink their conversational teeth in.   
          "Vigilance, huh?"  A long pause follows.  "I saw them play once
against the Knicks.  Not a bad team."
         Vigilance is one of those under-the-covers words that sounds good
but doesn't smack one across the lexicographic chops with eye-bugging force. 
 Usually, I can see the other person's eyes flick and roll, attempting to
place the world "Vigilance" in some respectable receptacle.  
           If the person I'm speaking to is somewhat polite, they might ask
me what those words mean, and how they relate to fighting Terrorism.
            That's not a good cue for me.  I tend to launch into a discussion
about the meaning of the words, and their interplay.   Here's an example of
my dilemma.
           "So, I don't understand exactly what you do.  Could you explain
            I take a deep breath, hoping to finish before the person in front
of me asking the question disappears into the crowd, excusing himself or
herself to the bathroom, or to receive an important call.   "Well, " I begin,
"Terrorism is composed of three elements, Fear, Intimidation and Complacency."
           Usually I pause to see if the person's eyes have started rolling,
or they flinch, or they begin to blink uncontrollably.  If they appear to
still be interested, I continue.
           "Terrorists aren't into blowing up buildings and icons, they
really target our emotions.   Their biggest target is our Emotional Security.
 They want us to become afraid, intimidated, and complacent.   The more of
these emotions we show, the more impact and encouragement we give to the
          "Oh!" is the usual response.   I know I'm losing them about this
point, and try some Socratic techniques to reel in their interest.
          "Let me give you an example.   If you were Osama bin Laden, would
you feel better about killing 3,000 people or scaring the pants off 350
million of them?"
          "Well, scaring them, of course."
          "I call that Emotional Terrorism.   Emotional Terrorism is the
fallout of Physical Terrorism.  A suicide bomber, for example, who walks onto
a bus and blows up innocent people becomes a threat to anyone who is in
broadcast range of the news.   Fear seeds in everyone.    They ask:  When
will this happen to us?"
          "Okay, so what do you offer to help stop the Terrorists?"
          I take another deep breath.  This is the crucial moment.   Will the
person accept or reject my answer?  
          "Let's go back to the scenario where you were Osama bin Laden. 
Remember your goal-it wasn't just to kill 3,000 people, but rather to strike
fear into 350 million-remember?"
          "What if there were a way you could wear a flack jacket that would
keep you and your family and your children safe from Fear?  What if such a
tool were designed where you could wake up each morning and don such a suit
of protection that would make you feel comfortable all day, immune to
Terrorism's attacks?   Would such a flack jacket be something you would want
to wear, and have your family wear?"
         "Oh, I get it.  You sell body armor."
         "In a sense I do.   But it is free.  It doesn't cost you a dime."
         "You mean my family can be protected from any harm from any
Terrorist at any time with your product?"
          Now I feel the pinch.   I try not wiggle.  I try not to flinch.
          "In a sense.  Let me explain.   Terrorism feeds on Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency, right?"
          "Okay, I'll go along with you."   The person's eyebrows usually arc
at this point, not out of interest, but rather defensively, preparing for a
con job.
           "If Terrorism's goal is to strike fear in us all, to drive us into
states of Intimidation and Complacency, then we must fight it from the inside
out, from our Emotional defenses rather than our Physical ones."  I don't
pause, for I must make a critical point.  "If Terrorists can't Terrorize us,
then they will stop using bombs and acts of violence bent on fertilizing our
Fears, our Intimidations and our Complacencies.   So I offer everyone a tool
to create what I call a Shield of Vigilance.   The Shield of Vigilance is an
awareness you and your family have that Terrorism can only exist in the
absence of Courage, Conviction and Right Action.   Through the Pledge of
Vigilance, you vow to fight Terrorism with those tools-Courage, Conviction
and Right Action.   It makes sense, doesn't it, that if you can't be driven
by Fear, then Terrorists will tire of their attacks?"
          About this time the person I'm talking with starts to look around,
searching for an escape.   Part of the reason is that I'm suggesting that
people don't have the tools of Courage, Conviction and Right Action already,
thus, I become a personal Terrorist, challenging them.
          "Well, I would rather wear a flack jacket.   I'm more worried about
my family getting harmed by shrapnel than in exposing them to Terrorists."
           "But earlier you agreed that Terrorism is all about Fear, didn't
            "Yes, but I meant fear of being attacked.  Fear of being injured.
  Fear of having our homes or neighborhoods invaded by people who want to
hurt us."
            "But Fear is the result of not defending against it," I state. 
"Vigilance, assuming the Courage, Conviction and Right Action to fight Fear
is like putting up barbed wire around your home and community.  If a
Terrorist with a bomb strapped around his or her waist has a choice of
bombing a community who advocates Vigilance rather than one that is
Complacent about it, which do you think the suicide bomber will select?"
       "I don't know.   Maybe the suicide bomber would come after the more
Vigilant community just to show its members that there were no hiding places.
 Maybe they would target those people who stood up to Terrorism.  Maybe it
would be like painting a big bulls eye on your chest, and on your house, and
on your family."
        Sweat starts to form on my brow as I feel the jaws of Complacency
grinding down on me.   "But what is your choice?   To do nothing?"
        "No, I will let the authorities take responsibility-the government,
the police, the FBI, the CIA.  They are fighting the war for me."
        Again, I bite my tongue.   I find it dangerous to embark on an
argument that the government is seeking to bomb Terrorism out of existence,
using violence and Terrorism to fight Terrorism.   I don't want to launch
into a discussion about neutralizing Terrorism with Vigilance, it's opposite.
 But I can't let my pair of ears leave without driving home a vital point.
        "Let me just ask you this.  When you turn over the protection of your
family to others, have you lost or gained control?"
         It's a breadbasket punch, for some, a low blow.   I wait.
         "But I can't fight Terrorism.  I'm only one person.  I have other
         "But what if you could fight Terrorism.  What if, by vowing to face
Fear with Courage, to combat Intimidation with Conviction, and to replace
Complacency with Right Action, there was one ounce of better defense against
a Terrorist attack on you and your family.   Would that one ounce of
difference be worth the effort you take to be more Vigilant, more prepared
for the fallout of Terrorism?"
          By now the person's eyes are rolling, searching for an exit.   "Of
course, a little is better than nothing."
          "Then you've strengthened your position against Terrorism.   You've
moved above the realm of allowing others to protect you totally, and taken a
giant step toward your own resolve, your own commitment to stand tall in the
face of Terrorism."
           "You know, I have to go and say hi to some other people.   Thanks
for talking with me.  I'll keep what you said in mind."
           "All you have to do is take the Pledge of Vigilance," I say,
offering him my card.  "Just dial up  and you can print the
Pledge.   Or, draft your own."
           "Thanks, I'll do that.  Gotta go.  Nice talking with you."
            I watch the person melt into the crowd.  My eyes are fixed on his
hand and the white patch of my card with my web address on it.   I focus
on his hand, and note that he stands near a waste basket and lets it drop.  
It flutters, somersaulting down until the rim of the trash can he stands next to consumes it.  
            I am still Vigilant.  I decide to wait a few minutes until he
leaves the area, then I'll go and retrieve the card.  No sense in wasting good paper.  Perhaps the next person who asks me what I do might keep the card and might dial up the website.  
          I can't give up.  If I do, the Terrorists win again.  They win a little battle.   I know the little battles that stack up to become the big battle. 
        No, I won't let them win, not today.   Not tomorrow.  Not the next day.   If victory is to be had, it must come from Vigilance never buckling to Complacency.
        It is time.  I go and retrieve the card.  I wait for the next person to ask me what I do.   I feel good telling them I am a Doctor....a Doctor of Vigilance...even if they decide not to take the medicine I offer.

G0 TO:  May 22--Shadows of Terrorism

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