The VigilanceVoice

Sunday-- May 5, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 236

War Of The Worlds
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 5--One of my great memories was the original movie "War Of The Worlds," a screen adaptation of H.G. Wells' 1898 story of an invasion from mars. War of the Worlds was also converted in 1938 to a Mercury Theater radio production narrated by Orson Welles  that sent panic and terror throughout America.  In 1996 it was released in a more modern version titled Independence Day.
       The movie was all about Terrorism.
       Helpless people all over the world were at the mercy of alien invaders, not unlike people today being helpless over the next Terrorist attack.
       Fear, Intimidation and Complacency rushed over America on Halloween as Orson Welles aired his "hoax" version of the invasion at 8p.m. in 1938 over CBS radio.  Listeners thought the "fake news reports" citing alien invaders were real.  A great panic ensued, despite disclaimers the radio program inserted that this a fictionalization fell on deaf ears.
      What I found interesting in the 1953 movie--which, by the way, scared my youthful bones to chatter and clatter all the way home that night--was that the "victims" of alien Terrorism sought refuge in a Church from their Martian invaders.   I was disappointed in the more modern release in 1996 that chose not to use Faith or the Church as a sanctuary for the victimized.  
      Today, times haven't changed much.
     Palestinian Terrorists are still holed up inside the Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem, armed and fearful that their "alien invaders," the Israelis, will capture and prosecute them for acts of violence against the Jewish State.
      But that situation is not as interesting to me as the one my older daughter experienced in El Salvador nearly a decade ago.
     A peace activist, she decided to go to Guatemala and El Salvador to help the oppressed people living under the Terrorism of a military dictatorship.   Part of her mission included living with a group of disenfranchised El Salvadorian people attempting to regain their land that the government had taken.   Under the law, if they squatted on the land for a period of time they could obtain rights over it.   They called such an event a "land take."
     The military had other ides.  Any group attempting a "land take" was Terrorized by military forces armed to the teeth and driven away, or, if they resisted being disbanded, they were shot or murdered.
     Americans and other interested people from throughout the world lived with the villagers to keep the military from forcing their removal.   The presence of "foreign nationals," some of whom were United Nations observers, made the El Salvadorians reluctant to use brutal force on the peasants.    
      Such living was harsh.   Each day corn was shucked and turned into meal for tortillas and the local river was both a bathing as well as washing facility.
      The group my daughter was with had hidden in the basement of church for five long years after being driven from their land.  There were 500 people comprising the village, crammed into the small, dusky confines of the church's basement.  They were hiding from the military who sought to eliminate them and by doing so, erase their claim to the fertile land they sought to claim.
      As the war was winding down and peace prospects on the horizon, the Terrorized villagers decided to rise up in force and to take their land back.  They left the security of the Church and foraged back to seize back their land, accompanied by foreigners who shielded them from the common atrocities El Salvadoran militants were so famous for administering to those who stood up to them.
       Today, in Bethlehem, a reverse of this process is occurring.   Terrorists are using the sanctuary of the church for security while outside Israeli snipers watch night and day for anyone trying to escape and having standard orders to shoot anyone carrying a weapon or refusing to surrender if challenged.
       On May 4 the Israeli snipers killed one of the alleged 25 Terrorists, whom they said was armed.   Ten foreign nationals who snuck into the Church of the Nativity to observe and help protect the 140 civilians under siege there plus the 25 wanted Palestinians, said the man was unarmed and hanging up clothes when he was shot.
      The standoff is about the disposition of the Terrorists.   The Israelis want the 25 Terrorists to be exiled, and the Palestinians want them to be tried under Palestinian law.
      The Church Of The Nativity is claimed to rest upon the grave of Jesus, where, after his crucifixion, he was buried.   It is considered the most holy church in all of Christendom.
      The confrontation is, to me, the modern version of War Of The Worlds.
      If Orson Welles was still alive, I could imagine him being the CNN reporter giving daily broadcasts about the "Israeli Invaders," Terrorizing the Terrorists."   Of course he would embellish the scene, as he did in his 1938 radio broadcast, but he would bring up the key issue--the power of a sanctuary and the power of faith to overcome one's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
      In the War of the Worlds, Faith in the future overpowered the immediate threat of destruction.   The people trapped inside its great halls sought within themselves the Courage, Conviction and Action necessary to overcome their Terrorism.   Ultimately, they found that the Martians were vulnerable to a bacteria, and shot it at the aliens, riding them from the face of the earth.  
      In my daughter's situation, faith helped secure the safety of the El Salvadorian villagers.   Fearless, courageous people from the "outside world" went face-to-face with the military who pointed their weapons at them and threatened to kill them all if they didn't disperse.   Many of the observers, including my daughter's future husband, were arrested and thrown into El Salvadorian jails.    Fortunately, the women of the village formed a circle of Vigilance around my daughter so that the military trying to extract her from the crowd were thwarted.  She barely escaped.
       I think a lot about where a child seeks sanctuary when he or she is Terrorized by life.  If a child thinks he or she is too fat, too thin, not smart enough, not loved enough, not rich enough, not gifted enough, where does he or she go for sanctuary?
      Personally, I ran into the woods and hid.  I sat under the tall trees that grew in my Oregon homeland and felt the Sentinels of Vigilance standing tall around me.  Trees were my Church of Nativity.  My wife found sanctuary in her closet surrounded by her 'book friends'.
      Children are terrorized daily by many forces, just as adults are.   While adults often wash their Terrorism away with a couple of drinks, or watching a television program, a child often has no place to store his or her Fears, Intimidation or Complacencies.   His or her behavior often results in bad tempers, violence, or withdrawal.   Secrets form within that fester and grow, and often the child lies in bed at night cold and alone, feeling the chill of an icy basement surrounding him or her, fearful of leaving the cave of Terrorism.
      As a Parent of Vigilance we owe our children the safety of our presence during a child's siege against Terrorism.
      We can be the child's Sentinel of Vigilance, becoming part of the child's mind, holding out our hand to the child's Emotional Fears, Emotional Intimidations, and Emotional Complacencies.  
      But we must take a risk, just as the 10 foreign observers did when they snuck into the Church of Nativity the other day.
      All we have to do is take the Pledge of Vigilance and apply the principles of Vigilance to our children, to our loved ones.  We can build a sanctuary around the child, and be his or her gatekeeper filled with love rather than becoming snipers who shoot at the child's Fears, Intimidations or Complacencies to drive them deeper into the Caves of Terrorism.
     It begins with us not being afraid to be with a child, as a child, thinking through the eyes of a child, caring for the child's inner faith in himself or herself.
     Build your child's sanctuary today.   Take the Pledge of Vigilance.


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