Article Overview:  Yesterday, I batted 1.000 in Central Park softball.   I faced the Beast of Batting Terror and won.  But what about all the people who refuse to swing the Bat of Vigilance?   Are they striking out?


Monday--August 18, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 705
Batting a 1.000 Against The Beast Of Terror
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Aug. 18, 2003--  Nothing is sweeter than batting 1.000 against the Beast of Terror.

I batted 1.000 against the Beast of Terror

     I had such an experience yesterday.
     It happened at Central Park's Great Lawn, in the midst of the park's 150th Anniversary events.   Only my victory over both gravity and age will not be recorded by Central Park Historians.  It will only be enshrined in my own mind.
     Terrorism, as I have stated countless times over the past 1.5 million words composed since September 11, 2001, takes many shapes, forms and sizes.   It's primary goal is to inject Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in its victims, rendering them virtually helpless to act in their own behalf.
      Like artillery shelling, Terrorism is about confusing people and making them think they are at the epicenter of the end of the world, converting them from strong, viable guardians of the present and future, into babbling, screaming, frightened sheep who cower in their own shadows, frightened to take the risks necessary to stand up to the tyranny and oppression of forces appearing far greater than they.
     Apathy is one of the outcroppings of Terrorism.   When a person, group or society sit back and wait for someone else to take care of them, to protect or guard them from the harms of both physical and emotional threats, their will to survive atrophies.   They become wandering generalities instead of meaningful specifics.

In the Iraqi War most nations refused to stand up to Saddam and Terrorism

      In the recent Iraqi War we saw nations sitting on the sidelines, arguing over technicalities and harrumphing the United States and Britain while the Beast of Terror laughed, enjoying the fact that nations such as France and Germany refused to stand up to Saddam Hussein, refused to send a signal to any and all Terrorists, future or present, that the free world would not stand by and suck its thumb while oppression and tyranny ran freely.
     Arguments will rage among political and historical pundits for years as to the legitimacy of the war, but no one will argue that a bully was stopped.  Some claim the bully, Saddam Hussein, was chased out of his seat of power by but another bigger bully.   These narrow-minded critics forget to issue the word "apathy" or "Complacency" as part of their arguments, or that the world sat back and tacitly endorsed the proliferation of Terrorism by allowing it to swell before their very eyes.
      In a way, America and Britain, plus all the allies who fought against Saddam, batted 1.000 this last March.    Those who sat on the sidelines all struck out.
      I thought about standing up to the plate and taking the heat this weekend when I was playing softball in Central Park.
      There is no doubt I was the oldest guy on the team, and, the heaviest.  And, probably, the tallest.
       I was once a supple athlete, able to play about any kind of competitive sport with some alacrity.  But as age and weight conspired, I became lethargic about sports.   About six weeks ago I learned a group I belonged to had a permit to play softball at Central Park's beautiful Great Lawn on Sundays.   Sparks flew.

My grandkids'  Little League Team's win stirred my competitive nature

        My wife and I had been helping coach our grandkids' East Village Little League team, and the spirit of competition roiled within me.   I grabbed my older daughter's softball glove and headed up to Central Park, only to be humiliated when I attempted to bat and run.
      I've been a great batting coach since my children began to play ball, and pride myself in being able to take young kids and turn the wooden stick they hold into a virtual weapon of ball smashing.    When our two daughters were younger, my wife and I helped one of our teams win a national championship--a feather in any coach's cap.
      I understand both the mechanics and strategy of batting.   And, I know the measure of any athlete in baseball or softball comes when one stands at the plate and the ball makes its looping arc or steams toward you.   You end up either swatting at it spastically, or you hit it and drive your teammates closer to home.
      The first four weekends of playing ended in my utter humiliation.   Not only could I not bat, but in trying to run to first base I pulled a muscle in my calf.   My leg swelled and I could barely walk.  I ended up taking antibiotics, icing and babying my leg.

The Beast of Terror sat upon my shoulder, whispering:  "LOSER"

     Worse, the Beast of Old Terror sat upon my shoulder, whispering in my ear:  LOSER!   OLD!  FAILURE!   WASHED UP!
       As a practicing Sentinel of Vigilance, I understood the hissing sound of the Beast's Voice was nothing more than my Fear, Intimidation and Complacency working against me.   However, to conjure the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for future generations to combat these Triads of Terrorism was about as easy as getting France and Germany to announce to the world they made a giant mistake when they turned their backs on the United States during the Iraqi War, or, in getting the protestors who claim the war was all about "Blood For Oil" to recant and admit the war was about showing Terrorism that it would be met with deadly force were it to rise up again.
        It is easy to give up when the going gets rough.  
        All of us need to  face the gravity of situations.
        But in order to achieve anything, the hill often slopes up with such a steep grade that no matter how many steps we take toward the crest, we keep slipping back farther.    And, if we're older and overweight, the gravity doubles, triples and sometimes quadruples.
        This weekend I vowed to play again.  There was some part of me that was struggling to fight the demons within that laughed at my ability to regain my youth, to control my swatting with the bat.
        I went to Central Park to redeem myself.   I wanted to show the Beast of Terror within that even if I weren't able to bat, that lack of skill would not keep me from trying.
        Someone once said the "attempt is the victory."
        Often, people are chided if they are not good at something.  But their critics are only mouthpieces of the Beast.    When one thinks about life, it is about making countless mistakes enroute to victory.
       When we fail or falter or stumble as we struggle to reach some goal, there are those who do not stop to lift us up or offer a helping hand.   France and Germany certainly didn't, as many of the U.N. nations stood by and turned their heads prior to the Iraqi War. 
       Millions of protestors carrying signs against America's involvement took to the streets to kick and stomp on America's role as a Sentinel of Vigilance.   They chanted and screamed like rabid fans jeering the visiting team, wishing ill upon them as they took the field.

Some children are brought up to believe they are the hammers and other people are nails

      Criticizing others for any reason is a cheap and cowardly act in itself.   The kids who laugh at another child who cannot do something well are only reflecting the cruelty they received at home from their parents.   Such children are brought up to believe that other people are nails and they are hammers.   They have little compassion outside their own selfishness, their own self-centeredness.  They are like the protestors who spew venom against America's battle with Terrorism, hiding behind the shield of Free Speech when there is nothing free about speech.    Great speech takes great effort.  It requires issuing out both sides of any issue, but those who seek the easier, softer way like to rail on only one side.
         Protestors who ignore the fact that Terrorism on a global basis has been set back by the invasion and occupation of Iraq only underscore that the Beast of Terror lives within them, hoping to convert the world into a state of Complacency and apathy so that he or she will run and hide from oppression and tyranny.

         That's why I went back to Central Park.

The Beast of Terror wanted me to give up but..........

         In my own small world, the Beast of Terror lived inside my bat.
         He wanted me to quit trying.
         He wanted me to give up, just as he wants me to give up writing these pages every morning and trying to get others to think in Vigilant rather than Terroristic Terms.
        The Beast of Terror wants us all to stop trying to be better.  He wants us to all give up the struggle to achieve, and to slink back into our shells of selfishness and self-servitude so we might cower a little more when his or her shadow casts our way.
        Maybe that's why the Sentinels of Vigilance came to my rescue.
        They didn't want me to quit swinging the Bat of Vigilance. 

......The Sentinels of Vigilance didn't want me to quit swinging the Bat of Vigilance


            Metaphorically, the softball bat and my words are not unalike.    Both try to make a hit.  Both try and move the runners.  From Fear to Courage, from Intimidation to Conviction, and from Complacency to Right Actions for the Children's Children's Children.  Home plate is Vigilance over Terrorism.
          When coaching my own daughters, I would urge them to picture the face of the bogeyman or monster on the ball, even the face of someone they didn't like, so they would keep their eyes on the ball and smash whatever or whomever was on it
         The ball is the Beast of Terror.
         When it comes, its job is to strike out the batter, or to make the batter swat it so ineptly that he or she fails to move it with force that causes the runners--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for future generations--to advance.
         Well, yesterday was my day.  Or, should I say, the day of the Sentinels of Vigilance.
         Despite a wounded right leg, the extra weight and far too many years of age, despite the bad back and eyes that need glasses, I batted 1.000 yesterday.
        It was as though the Sentinels of Vigilance were rewarding me for trying.   I took the bat calmly in my hands, removed my right hand from gripping the bat by encircling my left hand with it, and reached out and stroked the bat over the plate.
        I called where the ball would land each time before batting, and in 9 out of 10 at bats, drove the ball exactly where I pointed.
        It was an amazing experience.
        Also, instead of trying to run and endangering my wounded leg, I had a pinch runner surrogating for me.
        At the end of the day I was elated, not with myself, but with my perseverance.  And, I was thankful for the Voices of Vigilance.

We must listen to the Voices of Vigilance and not the Voices of Terror

       Inside our heads are two Voices.  One is the nagging fish mongering Voice of the Beast of Terror who loves to tell us what Losers and Failures we are, and how we need to "give up" and "surrender" to his Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  The other is the Voice of Vigilance who coaches us to use at least One Percent more Courage to dispel our Fear, to conjure at least One Percent more Conviction than Intimidation, and to muster One Percent more energy to take Right Actions for the benefit of future generations and not to be sucked into the quicksand of Complacency.
        I listened to those Voices.
        Each at bat allowed me to remove my right hand from the bat, the hand that tried to swat the bat and make a homerun.  I wanted solid, clean hits.  And that's what I got.  I drove in five runs with my 10 at bats, and only when the game was over, did I realize I had batted 1.000.
        I thought about the victory not in terms of how great I was, for anyone who had seen me play the previous weeks would whisper to someone standing next to them:  "How come the old guy doesn't let someone bat for him.  Doesn't he know he's over the batting hill!"
        This week's battling batting success was a symbol.
        It came after the Great Blackout.
        It came as the U.S. is standing ready to help out Liberia in its battle with Terrorism.  It came when the people of the nation realize they cannot count on the government to be in charge of even electricity, but they can count on themselves to work together as one Family of Vigilance.
        The Great Blackout of 2003 is, for me, a sign the Beast of Terror is in trouble.  Instead of riots and looting, the news was filled with Acts of Vigilance.   People know Terrorism exists today in many forms, and, I believe, are coming closer together because of it.
        When I hear people scream and shout about how many Americans die daily in Iraq, I shake my head.   Each volunteer in the military vowed to fight the Beast of Terror in any land.   Americans are the only people in the world standing at the Plate of Terrorism, swinging the bat.    Each American who dies is a symbol of Vigilance, a signpost of a nation willing to take on the Beast in any land.
         My meager batting experience pales in comparison to the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions of our troops both in Iraq and now Liberia.
         Terrorism is striking out.

Swing the bat against Terrorism and bat 1.000

        Yesterday, I may have batted 1.000.  But America and all nations willing to swing the bat against Terrorism are also batting 1.000.
        And the critics who hiss and jeer on the sidelines.
        Well, I feel sorry for them.  I feel sorry that they are blind to Vigilance and are succubae of the Beast of Terror.
       But the ones I feel most sorrow for are the ones who don't care.  The ones sitting at home doing nothing, telling their children how to be a nobody.
       I pity most those who don't swing the bat at all.


Aug 17--Muscles Of Vigilance Flex Against Terrorism

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