The VigilanceVoice

July 25, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 316

Pool Of Vigilance...Eyes Of Argus

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 25--Yesterday I went swimming in a pool of Vigilance.   I felt very safe.  Even though there was a shark in the water.  And, lots of children.
        It was a respite day.   An annual trek out of the cacophony of New York City to the tree-lined solace of Long Island where peace and quiet abound.  There were no sirens wailing mournfully or jackhammers, or cab horns bleating impatiently at lights about to turn green.  

       One could hear the wings of a butterfly flutter, and the soft hip-hop of baby cotton tail bunnies not worried about whose pit bull was going to eat them.  Hedges hid the houses and long driveways swallowed gravel roads as though you were entering Alice In Wonderland’s world.
       The house belonged to Uncle Bob as part of his 21-week time share agreement.   He and fifteen of his friends own the right to use the giant edifice, capable of sleeping an army of young and old, replete with six giant bedrooms, baths galore, a huge living and dinning room, tennis court, swimming pool and long reticulating driveway that hides the house from prying eyes.

       Some might call the area ultra exclusive, and others might simply call it Paradise.   Regardless of the nomenclature, it was a grotto, protecting the inhabitants from the pressures of the world, allowing one to exit the madness of news and concern over Terrorism of all types—except for one—the fear of drowning.
       Uncle Bob is the paternal head of my Irish son-in-law’s “vacation time.”   He’s a bachelor, a former financier, who lives spartan for his background, but rewards himself the pleasure of owning a share of an East Hampton retreat where he spends, off and on, twelve weeks of the year.

       Once each summer, he invites the “family clan” to a day of swimming, tennis, lunch and dinner in the “grotto,” an opportunity everyone looks forward to with eagerness.
       The family includes his sister, a nun; his brother, a retired lawyer and father of my son-in-law; his sister-in-law, a college professor; and two nephews and a niece, their husbands and wives, and all their children—including my wife and me.   Our daughter married one of Uncle Bob’s two nephews.
       Uncle Bob’s grand nephews and nieces include four boys and one girl, ranging in age from one-month old to six years.
        And that’s the rub—the kids.
        Oil and water don’t mix well, and neither do children and water.   The Terrorist at the house wasn’t the bees busily buzzing from flower to flower, it was the water, cool, clear water that can turn from friend to foe in a flash if a child slips under and goes unnoticed.

         We were all appointed the Eyes of Argus.
         The children were given rules.  No entry onto the bricks surrounding the pool without an adult.  Absolutely no swimming or standing near the pool without an adult in the water.   And, if that’s not enough, all eyes of all adults focusing on the children at any time they are in the pool or around it.
        There was a back up to the back up.
        Two sets of grandparents and three sets of parents plus one uncle and one aunt represents twenty-four eyes, just about one-quarter of those allegedly belonging to Argus, the mythical hundred-eyed creature that Zeus employed to keep watch over his Io.   

The Eyes of Argus in the Peacock's Tailfeathers

      At all times, at least one set of the “Eyes of Argus” converged on the children.  We watched them hawkishly so that they didn’t run near the pool, or slip into the water unnoticed, or that an adult wasn’t with them when they paddled about with water wings, or lazed on the floating mats. 
        Interestingly, all of the adults assumed the role of parent for each and every child, not hesitating to correct or protect the child.  Everyone became a Parent Of Vigilance.
        Vigilance today is about thinking of Terrorism as we think of a swimming pool filled with young children.   Water can be friendly or terrible, depending on the Vigilance of the lifeguards.          

      To make that point, one of the grandchildren had a paddleboard with the picture of a shark’s head on it.   It was harmless, of course, but the picture represented the danger that lurks anywhere anytime we take our eyes off the value of our children.
        Terrorism is all about making us afraid, driving us into caves of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  In the darkness of self-preservation, we can’t see the children.  We become so worried about our personal safety and ourselves we forget to watch the children.
        Currently, the passion in Washington to install internal security at the risk of Constitutional Rights is about self-preservation.   Few in Washington are asking what impact the corruption of basic rights of privacy will have upon our children.   They are more concerned with appeasing the voter’s sense of failure on the government’s part to protect us, as was evidenced by the flaws in communication between the CIA and FBI, and even, allegedly, the White House.
         In the panic scramble to right the ship, everyone is ignoring the children in the swimming pool.    Were they concerned, they would be asking:  “How will this decision impact the children and their children’s children’s children?”        

          We have a Cyclops watching over our nation’s security, not Argus with his hundred eyes.
          Vigilance is all about creating Courage, employing Conviction and then taking the Right Action.   But Vigilance cannot work single handedly.    The same is true of government.

     Government is only one eye.  It is a Cyclops that sees only what it looks at, and generally that is the voting polls.   It doesn’t see in all directions, and rarely beyond a four-year horizon, shrinking daily as election dates approach.
          Little vision is expected from a Cyclopic Government.  That’s why we hear little comment about the impact of Home Security Laws regarding the children.   Few want to shout that no children were killed in the World Trade Center or Pentagon attacks.   Not that I diminish the value of a child whose mother or father, uncle, aunt, grandparents, sister or brother or loved one was killed.   I make the point only to illustrate that when we make decisions that affect only adults, we make decisions that are selfish.   When we sacrifice ourselves for our children, then we make decisions that are in their best interests.
        Any parent of worth would gladly give his or her life to preserve a child’s life.  In a bizarre way, those adults who died on September 11 did just that.   They brought the need for Vigilance to the surface of a society that has neglected it, not just against the Osama bin Ladens, but in the financial and political venues as well.
       How many lives have been destroyed by the Enron, ImClone, Tycor, WorldCom fiascoes?   How many parents were crushed under the debris of their life savings being destroyed by financial Terrorists, and what effect did the fallout have on their children?
       Great societies are ones that band together at the grass roots, in behalf of their children and all children.   They become the Eyes of Argus, never sleeping, always alert to impending danger.
       If and when each parent in America and around the world decides to rid this planet of Terrorism, that wave will begin only by becoming a Parent of Vigilance, a Citizen of Vigilance, a Loved One of Vigilance.

         By the vow of the Pledge of Vigilance, one assumes the duty of lifeguard over the children swimming in the pool of life.    If one eye strays, another eye focuses.  If one eye blinks, another opens.   If one eye dies, another is born, ad infinitum.
       And every one of the Eyes of Argus knows there is a shark in the water.  There always is.  That’s why Argus can never sleep.  
       But, with so many eyes on alert, the shark can be rendered a simple picture on a paddleboard, a reminder that danger exists, but not in the pool today.

The Eyes of Argus begin with the first eye.
       Open yours.   Take the Pledge of Vigilance today.






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