When do you decide to cut off the arm and hand that feed you?
Perhaps when the Terror of Death breathes down your neck. That
was the recent choice one man made. Here is his story of
Vigilance over death's Terrorism.
8, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 603
Cutting Off The Arm Of
Terrorism--An Act Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, NEW YORK, NY--Twenty-seven-year-old
Aron Ralston made a tough choice on May 2--he cut off his arm not to
spite but to save himself. Ralston, an expert rock climber from
Colorado was challenging nature in Moab, Utah's Canyonlands National
Park (Bluejohn Canyon) when an 800-pound bolder smashed down and
pinned him in a ravine.
in the Colorado Rockies in March
The rock's weight
pinned his right arm under its weight, imprisoning him for five days
When he ran out of water after the third day, he made a tough but
vital decision. If he remained pinned to the rock he would die.
So he took out his pocketknife and began to saw at his forearm,
Free from the boulder's Terrorizing grasp, he
applied a tourniquet, fixed anchors and rappelled down 70 feet to the
bottom of Blue John Canyon. Then the rugged individualist
hiked five miles before he met some other hikers. The group was
spotted by Sergeant Mitch Vetere of the Emery County Sheriff's
Department and later hospitalized in Grand Junction, Colorado.
parents attributed his survival to their son's "strong physical
and mental condition."
rushed back to the scene to recover his severed forearm in hopes of
attaching it. They used a hoist and jacks to lift the rock, but
the arm was so badly damaged it could not be used to reapply it to the
climber's upper arm. Ralston cut off his forearm
just below the elbow.
The adventurer wasn't a novice in challenging
nature. He had scaled many of the Colorado mountain peaks
jutting up some 14,000 feet, and recently escaped an avalanche on the
slopes of Tennessee Pass, according to the Denver Post.
Canyonlands Park officials said Ralston made one
major error. He didn't tell anyone where he was going to hike, a
rule that most hikers who solo into nature should do to alert
emergency rescues if they don't surface in a reasonable time.
The loss of Ralston's arm increases the
challenges to his goal as a climber. His mission in life
has been to climb all of Colorado's 55 mountains that soar more than
14,000 feet solo during the winter. If he achieves that
goal, he would be the first to do it. He was also
preparing to climb Alaska's Mount McKinley, the highest of all U.S.
Ralston worked as an engineer at Intel in the
'90s until he saw the IMAX movie Everest. Ralston quit
his job when he was denied a three week vacation to go climbing in
Alaska. Since then, he has made a life of exploring the
outdoors. He cheated death another time. In February
Ralston was buried to his neck in an avalanche while skiing near Vail,
In today's world of Terrorism, acts of
great Vigilance leap out to remind us all of the Courage, Conviction
and Right Actions that overpower Terrorism's Fear, Intimidation and
Pinned under the weight of an 800-pound
boulder, Ralston faced more than his share of the Triad of Terrorism.
Fear of not being found, Intimidation by the weight of the rock
pinning him, and the Complacency of being helpless, at the mercy of
nature, all conspired to force Ralston into Vigilant action.
He said he considered four choices to
escape. He could wait for someone to rescue him.
He could try and chip at the rock with his knife, hopeful he might
release his arm. Third, he could rig some pulley system with the ropes
to dislodge the rock. Or, he could cut off his arm.
He said he never considered the final choice--succumbing to death.
When the water ran out, he chose the final
solution. He broke his arm at the elbow and sawed through
the muscles and ligament with the pocketknife.
He became a Sentinel of Vigilance that day,
one who earned his stripes the hard way. The Beast of Terror
lost the battle. Courage ruled.
photo taken in June
Now that he has
one arm, he falls into another category, one that has a legacy of
one-armed adventure heroes not unlike Ralston.
A hundred years ago John Wesley Powell
launched a major adventure with only one arm. On May 24, 1869,
he set off from Green River, Wyoming to explore the treacherous Grand
Canyon by boat. In the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh,
Powell lost his right arm.
Powell lost his right arm in a Civil War battle
rapids, Powell used his Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to
overcome the Colorado River's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
A number of the nine men he took with him to crew the adventure left
the expedition, fearful for their lives. Powell forged ahead.
At a place called "Separation Canyon" three of his nine-man crew left,
saying: "We will surely all die if we continue this journey."
Earlier a boat had been lost in the rapids, and another crew member
had abandoned the journey.
On Aug 29, three months and five days from
starting, Powell and his remaining crew reached the Virgin River. Back
home, most had given up on the crew, assuming them dead since no one
had heard from them.
Lake Powell was named after him, a
tribute to his heroism in the face of danger.
Powell's adventures were not limited to exploring the Colorado River.
He, like Ralston, loved to climb mountains.
Prior to his Colorado River
trek, he was the first to climb Long's Peak, the highest summit of the
Gore Range, on September 26, 1868.
His companion on that
ascent, college student Ned Farrell, wrote that Powell "would not give
up, and we cautiously moved on, passing many places where a single
misstep ... would be certain death."
Powell and Farrell left a tin can
with a note inside recording the date and their names. Five years
later, explorer Ferdinand V. Hayden and five of his survey became the
second recorded party to reach the summit of Longs, where they found
Powell's tin can, which contained a dedication to its finder.
Hayden named the peak after his predecessor
to the summit of Mount Powell, 13,560 feet in elevation.
Aron Ralston isn't the first outdoorsman to
cut off a limb in order to save himself. In 1993 Bill Jeracki
resorted to cutting off one of his legs with his pocketknife after
becoming trapped under a boulder during a fishing trip near St. Mary's
Glacier. Jeracki said, "I cut through the knee joint like
you separate your chicken. It's all soft tissue. It took
maybe 15 or 30 mnutes." Jeracki waited only three house before
cutting off his leg and is stunned Ralston endured days of pain.
In a world where bad things happen to good
people, there is a question that arises: "How does one overcome
Certainly, many succumb to it.
They fall victim to the Beast of Terror's Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. Ralston could have. He chose, however,
to eliminate the final alternative--death. Inside his
chemistry, the power of his Faith in Vigilance grew stronger, by at
least One Percent, than the crushing weight of the boulder's Terror.
We all face times in our lives when
we are "pinned by the Rock of Terror." Often, the weight
of our problems or defeats immobilize us and it seems like there is no
way to escape their Terror. It could be the loss of a job,
the loss of loved ones, a financial or health crisis, or a gloomy
sense of depression that we are victims of life, that everyone else is
victorious over it but us.
Even though there may be no physical
obstruction, such as an 800-pound boulder pinning us, we feel the
emotional weight of our problems with such ferocity that it might as
well be a giant rock pinning us down.
The Boulder of
Terrorism can kill us unless we cut ourselves free
Boulder of Terrorism can kill us. It can kill our Courage, our
Conviction and keep us from taking the Right Actions to free ourselves
from its grasp.
We know the presence of the Boulder
of Terrorism when we look in the mirror and see a Loser, or a Failure,
or someone not rich enough, smart enough, good enough, worthy enough
to keep "hiking through life." We lay like Aron Ralston,
with this great weight upon us, looking at the options to escape, and,
unfortunately, we often surrender to the final one--death.
We can die in many ways, and the most gruesome of all deaths is
Complacency, where we rot in our own defeat, where we literally give
up on the idea we can escape the Beast of Terror's grasp.
But we can cut ourselves
free. Not literally, but figuratively. If we
think of the Sword of Vigilance as the pocketknife that Aron Ralston
used to free himself from the Boulder of Terrorism, we can use the
Sword in a variety of ways.
We can slip the tip of
the Sword of Vigilance under the rock and leverage our weight down in
hopes of moving the rock just enough to free our pinned soul.
Sometimes the tool to escape a problem is only a pinhole of Hope in an
otherwise dark cavern of hopelessness. By trying to
force the rock free, we might slip away from its grasp.
Then, like Ralston, we can use
the Sword of Vigilance to chip at the rock. We can hack at
the granite surface, cutting small chunks of the problem away.
We can try and cut out the Fear and replace it with Courage, and hack
at the Intimidation with Conviction, and saw at the broken stone with
Right Actions rather than lie helpless in the shadow of Complacency.
Ralston's third approach was
jacks and pulleys. We can seek help from others to move
the rock. We don't need to try to do it all ourselves. We
can ask for assistance and expertise from others. If we
are living in Fear, we can go to someone and ask them for help in
restoring our Courage to battle the Fear. There are
countless ways to do this, ranging from the local minister, priest or
rabbi, to professional psychological help. There are thousands
of books written on self-help, advice on how to overcome problems.
But, we need to take a
lesson from Aron Ralston. We don't have to die. We
don't have to "give up" on the belief we are Sentinels of Vigilance,
people who believe our lives and living them benefit the future
generations, the Children's Children's Children
had the courage to cut off his arm and remind us that no handicap
is worth one's life
Ralston was driven to cut off his arm to save not just his life, but
to continue to remind people that no handicap is worth one's life.
An arm is meaningless, for example, to a child who loves you.
One can express love and concern for other human beings with or
Then there is the most
important part of Ralston's story--Courage.
Daily, we all need
Courage to face the travails of life. We need to drink from
Courage's Cup, to refresh our minds that Vigilance always overpowers
Terrorism when we set our minds to that belief. But, if we
don't, then Terrorism can creep in and sour the sweetness of our
lives. It can turn the wine of life into vinegar.
That's why we all need to
subscribe to the Pledge and Vow of Vigilance.
It is a not-so-subtle reminder
that we can escape any boulder in life that threatens to pin us in
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
It is also our way of keeping
our Sword of Vigilance sharpened. It provides us a keen
edge to cut away the Beast of Terror's grasp on us.
But instead of cutting off our
arms, we cut away Fear, we hack off Intimidation, and we sever from us
the leeches of Complacency, sucking the blood of Courage, Conviction
and Right Actions.
In our minds, when the Beast of
Terror grabs us in his clutches, driving out our breath, making us
feel small, helpless, hopeless, we can call upon the Sentinels of
Some of them may not have arms or
legs, but they all have the Spirit of Vigilance that overrides any
physical defect. Their boundless Courage, Conviction and
Right Actions become our models, our mentors, reminding us we can
overcome the Boulders of Terrorism.
Have Faith in
the Principles of Vigilance
Ralston, John Powell and Bill Jeracki are three small examples in a
world of 6.2 billion people reminding us that there isn't a problem on
earth we can't overcome if we have faith in the Principles of
If we can muster One Percent more Courage
than Fear, One Percent more Conviction than Intimidation, and One
Percent more Right Actions for future generations than fall victim to
Complacency, we have the option to free ourselves of Terrorism's
threat, just as Ralston did.
You can start freeing yourself today.
Take the Pledge of Vigilance.
Escape the Boulder of Terrorism.
7--Terrorism's Turkey Hunters--Best Shot at Osama, Saddam
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