The VigilanceVoice

June 29, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 290

How To Be A Firefly Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, June 29--Ever watch a firefly?
       Last night I did.  In fact, it was a whole herd of them, or flock of them.
       They were Fireflies Of Vigilance.

       I was sitting in the garden of my older daughter's apartment, lush with flowers and vegetation, a grotto snuggled in mountains of New York City concrete.  
       My wife was reading a recently finished short story I am preparing to send to the New Yorker, "Conversations With My Father's Grave."
       It deals with a woman whose only friend is her dead father's grave, and their communication about the meaning of life.  Of course, the girl is terrorized by her self-image.
       To complete the final editing process, my wife reads the story aloud.   Any flaws stand out like fireflies.   Incorrect tenses, non-action verbs, fuzzy images, technical flaws all seem to leap out and grab the ear's attention while they may escape the eye's.
       It was twilight time as my wife began to read.
       The sun was slowly setting somewhere behind one of the jutting concrete spires that blocks its beauty, but the sky was soft, diffusing the remaining light so one could easily read. I thought of the Grand Tetons and sunset.

      A main theme in the story was about the burial of the main character's mother near the beautiful Wyoming mountain range and her father's burial near New York City.
      A soft breeze massaged the garden, swirling in and around the boxy mounds of bricks forming the edifices of other apartment buildings that surrounded the garden. 

       The building directly behind my daughter's is called Red Square, and on the top of it is a statue of Lenin the owner salvaged from Russia after the fall of communism.   It seemed ironic the shadow of Lenin still stands--only his new resting place is Houston Street, New York City.   When we were first looking for apartments I checked out Red Square and asked the leasing agent if you had to be a communist to live there.  She didn't find the same degree of humor I did in the building's name.
As the wind whipped around the garden, it set into motion a bumblebee garden propeller.   I listened to my wife reading and thought how we were performing a literary ritual rooted in rich history.
        Thousands of years ago, before paper and ink and the Guttenberg Press  were as  common as computers these days, Greek orators stood on the steps of a building and told tales.  They were the authors of fiction.   Around them gathered young men and women, eager to hear the stories they told.   Some of the stories were epics and went on for days and months.   The orators used a process of mnemonic memorization, and cited new "chapters" by various marks on columns to remind

them where they were in the story.

  As my wife read I began to watch the flickering lights of the fireflies igniting the twilight.  

       The iridescent green glowing from their tails started out as a soft glow, a spark of verdant green.   Then it grew in intensity as though the firefly had control of a rheostat, and could turn the bulb of its rear to high or low on command.  At the peak of the fireflies ignition, it glowed as a single star in the sky, a nova of turquoise and hunter green, blended with phosphorescence magic.

      One landed on my leg, another on my wife's hand.   Without the magic of their light shining, the firefly is not an attractive "bug."   It look spindly and awkward, hardly a Walt Disney ballerina candidate. 

      But as the luminous nocturnal insect flies away and nature's genetic clock signals it to show its might, it transforms into a spatial moment of beauty, pulsing and lighting the darkness.
      It is mating time for the fireflies.   Their ritual includes  females flashing to certain males only.  The female chooses the males based on their flash pattern.  The brighter the light, the more the interest or attraction..  
      But I saw the lights as symbols of Vigilance.   I saw the ignition of the spirit within them a signpost that the average person, who may appear Complacent about fighting Terrorism, can ignite into a Sentinel of Vigilance, can transform from an "average looking bug" into a "magical sentinel of light."
      Terrorism, I believe, has been narrowly defined as the "hunt for bin Laden."   We suffer from the exclusion of what Terrorism is really all about.  It far more pervasive and elemental than worrying about the next anthrax attack, or the blowing up of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July.
      Terrorism is about the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency we all suffer when we allow ourselves to be ruled by the darkness of life.   Its roots go back to our early childhood days when we learned to Fear the Unknown, when we became Intimidated by others who ruled our lives, and we found solace in the caves of Complacency that we would always be too fat, too thin, not smart enough, pretty or handsome enough, rich enough, gifted enough, loved enough ad infinitum.
      Emotional Terrorism is far more vast an enemy than Physical Terrorism, for it haunts a person's soul and snuffs the firefly's light within us, rendering us unable to shine Hope where there is Dismay, or Joy where Sadness has taken root, or Belief where Skepticism and Resignation have burrowed deep into our marrow.

      The fireflies reminded me that everybody can ignite their sense of Vigilance over Terrorism if they seek Courage over Fear, Conviction to replace Intimidation, and Right Action to fill the holes of Complacency that riddle most of our souls.
       Listening to the story unfold was a bit of magic.   Fireflies danced about the bushes and  flowers as the light waned.  It seemed they grew in number as my wife neared the final page.
       My story was about a woman who had shut down her hope in the future.   Her dead father was talking to her at his grave, telling her to rekindle her spirit to live, and instructing her to do certain things to regain her balance in life.   Essentially, he was telling her to fight her Terrorisms with Vigilance, to employ her Courage, Conviction and take the Right Action that would free her from her own demons of unworthiness, emptiness, loneliness and unhappiness.
         He was for her, a "Firefly of Vigilance."

        I wondered as we sat quietly after the reading and looked upon the scene, how many parents considered themselves "Fireflies of Vigilance?"
        How many parents or loved ones realized that their duty and responsibility with their children, or children they loved, was to ignite in the child more Courage than Fear, more Conviction than Intimidation, more Right Action than Complacency?
        How many of them inadvertently snuffed the firefly's light out of their children by neglecting their Emotional Fears, their Emotional Intimidations, their Emotional Complacency?
        A mature firefly with a bright light reminded me of a child who had been nurtured by a Parent of Vigilance--one who fought to rid the child of "Internal Terrorists," one who taught the child that he or she could chose to "stand above the crowd" or just be one of many lights within it.
        I noticed each firefly sought a distinct illumination.   They didn't huddle in one flock and try to light up the whole world from one spot, but dispersed themselves and dotted the horizon so that everywhere you looked, their pulsing illumination told you life and magic existed.   They were like punctuation, emphasizing the beauty of Nature.  


        My story had a happy ending.  At the end, the main character chose to light up her firefly within.   She chose to be more Vigilant than Terrorized--but only at the prompting of her father.  Left to her own devices, she would have remained in the "rut of life."
       That's what the Pledge of Vigilance is all about.   It helps us take the Right Action in behalf of our children.   It  forces us to recognize we have duties and obligations to make our children's lights shine as bright as possible--to be Fireflies of Vigilance.
       The fireflies know instinctively that their future demands strength from within.   Their lives are geared to one ultimate goal--glowing brighter.    If they do, they attract the strongest mate, and their children inherit that glow and attempt to brighten it even further.
       Nature seeks not to remain in status quo, but to evolve.
       So it is that we, as human beings, cannot evolve unless we take the Right Action to insure our evolution by strengthening our children's resolve, bolstering their ability to shine.
       For a parent to not vow to maximize his or her children's Courage, Conviction and Right Action is a state of Complacency.  It assumes the child has inherited these traits, and is totally responsible for their maturation.
       Nothing could be more incorrect.

        Thousands of years ago the muses who stood on the steps sharing stories with the children sought to add sinew to their imaginations, their self worth, their pride, their dignity, their ability to shine in the world.  They were "Fireflies Of Vigilance."
       Little has changed today.
       You can be a "Firefly of Vigilance."   You can spark new hope and new faith and new belief in your children by helping them reduce their Fear and expand their Courage.   You can brighten their

vision to the future by shining light on the shadows of their Intimidations and helping them realize the power of Conviction and its ability to provide handrails when the storms of Doubt and Disbelief attack.   And, you can teach them Right Action--how to stand up for themselves in a world where so many chose to blame others and hide from the responsibility of shining their light into the Caves of Complacency.

      Yes, you can be a "Firefly of Vigilance."

    It all begins with taking the Pledge of Vigilance, and vowing to help not only your child or loved one, but yourself, to shine as bright as possible.   Then, Terrorism will scuttle away, for there will be no dark corners in which it can hide and grow and one day explode unexpectedly.



Go To June 28--Radicals of the 60's--Unite And Fight For Vigilance

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design