The VigilanceVoice
Wednesday-- March 20, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 190

The Terror Of Herd Complacency
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 20--I have this ongoing concern about why all the flags on cabs disappeared in New York City about the same time.   Every opportunity I have, I ask a cabbie why he doesn't fly his flag on his cab any more.
         In previous reports I have stated some cab drivers told me the flags got worn and were removed because the drivers, 40,000 of them in New York City, chose not to buy a new one.   I found this a little incredible, but I took the bait.

       Then, the other day a cab driver was heading for his yellow chariot after getting a cup of coffee and I stopped and asked him how come he wasn't flying a flag any longer.   He hurriedly told me that he looked around and saw others taking off their flags, and decided he would too.   I bought into that one also.
         It seems to me that if I asked all 40,000 cab drivers the same question, I might get an equal amount of different answers.
        This leads me to the subject of today--the "herd mentality."

        Society is a collection of individuals trying to get along with each other, forming a flow, a river of humanity coexisting next to one another in some civil fashion.    Rivers are the sum of many tributaries that flow into them.   These feeder streams may be wild and independent as they cascade down from some mountain, but when they spill into the main artery of the river, they are absorbed, becoming one with many, just another molecule of H2O amidst billions upon billions of others.  Individuality is sacrificed for the whole of the flow.
        Complacency--the lack of distinctive concern for issues--is like a river.   It sucks up the energy of the individual, watering it down, moving it with the mass so that whatever it might have been before emptying into the mainstream, it relinquishes that uniqueness.   Often, to survive, it has no choice.   If it acts independently, the mass will pull it down, force it to conform, teach it "manners," as the group or whole has found works best.
         New York City was a good example of that principle prior to the election of Mayor Rudy, two terms ago.   The city was in a state of decay, crime rampant, corruption seething from almost every pore.  Then Rudy came to town.
         He struck at the heart of Complacency--attacking the old thinking that said:  "We can't do anything about all this mess, it's far too big a problem for me."    He looked at New York City and unpacked his shovel, and began to dig out the crime, the corruption, sweep away the dirt and turned a decaying metropolis into a shiny jewel.   People didn't like Mayor Rudy at first, because he wore a silk glove over an iron fist, and slammed the city's Complacency in the gut until it awakened, refreshed, renewed, regenerated.
         The Terrorist attack on September 11 slammed another fist into the gut of America.   Complacency that we, as a nation were safe from Third World attacks, was wiped out.    Our vulnerability rose.  We realized we could be bombed, butchered, blasted and poisoned just as easily as any country, regardless of our status as a "superpower."  
         We waved flags and shouted "God Bless America" and called the FBI every time we saw someone who remotely looked like a Middle Eastern Terrorist.    We scoured the paper, and sucked up the evening news waiting for proof that bin Laden was dead, that we had exercised our "eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth" strategy of revenge.
        Then something happened.   As we found the "hunt for bin Laden" a matter of searching a haystack for a needle, and tens of thousands of pounds of bombs doing nothing but pock-marking the Afghanistan desert, we slowly began to take our flags down.

      Complacency settled back into the river.   The storm which had flooded the mainstream and caused our society to shudder and shake its patriotism, passed.   The storms subsided.   Life as usual crept back into the equation of daily living almost inversely proportional to the gradual slipping of bin Laden's front-page mug did off the front pages of our papers.
        At first, I held a resentment against the cab drivers for taking down their flags.   I even went so far as to suppose it was a conspiracy of Complacency, a foreshadowing of our return back as a society to a state of "balance" where we would be so pressed with "daily living issues" we were forced to "forget to remember" the lesson of Nine Eleven.
        Lately, I've begun to realize the cab drivers are just like everyone else.   They grew tired of remembering Nine Eleven, and elected to remove their flags as a symbol of getting "on with life as normal."
        Across the country I've noticed this same ebbing of emotions.   Just the other day I noted a Starbucks without the flag in the window.   Just after September 11th, every store displayed them boldly so everyone could see.   Now, more and more stores have moved the flags to quiet corners of the window, or removed them completely.
        Retailers, once appointed with so much red, white and blue you thought it was the Fourth of July, have also diminished if not totally eliminated their signets of patriotism, replacing the precious display space with signs that bark specials and discounts.
        "Life as normal" seems to have taken a huge bite out of the Terror and ensuing Vigilance that grew from the destruction of America's security.
        The rumor that Ted Koppel was going to be canned so David Letterman would have a key spot, suggested entertainment was of more concern than town meetings, hard-lined journalistic interviews, and feedback on critical issues concerning us all.
        Vigilance, the state of mental and physical readiness and alert against oppressive forces, is succumbing to Complacency again.   It's like a slow drip, hardly noticeable one drip at a time, but over a long period, the water forms a pond, stagnant, flowing nowhere so that its stench rises and the vulnerability that once caused  Nine Eleven ripens again.
        If Wisdom is the result of learning by mistakes and doing something about those mistakes so the same errors won't occur again, then we, as a society, are losing the Wisdom of Nine Eleven.
       That Wisdom to me is Vigilance against Terrorism.   But not the kind that the Taliban or Osama bin Laden issued upon us.   I call it Subtle Terrorism.   Insidious Terrorism.  Complacent Terrorism.
       It occurs when we least expect it, as all Terrorism does.  It creeps into our minds, our way of life, telling us "we can't do anything about this problem, so we'll let someone else handle it."   We turn our backs.  We shut down our interest in the issue.   We busy ourselves with daily life, forgetting to remember that our vulnerability as a people and a nation has been benchmarked by the events of September 11 and recorded by those radical forces who want to show the world David can bring Goliath to his knees with one stone.
      September 11th will happen again, and again in the future.
      It is happening now, but we can't see it.   The glaciers of dissent are melting, and will indeed crash down and fill the rivers with a great flood of pain and anguish once again, validating that America's society likes to forget to remember to protect itself.
      And I'm not talking about the U.S. government, or the military.  I'm talking about the cab drivers who take down their flags, or the retailers who remove the flag from a prominent display to a corner, or the mother and father who forget the Terror their children suffered, and assume that the school, or the Church or society as a whole will heal the scars left by the event.
      More specifically, I believe the Terrorism of Nine Eleven was a message to Americans to learn to understand how Terror affects their daily lives, in its many forms and disguises, ranging from boredom to hyperactivity.    A society can crumble when it loses its primary mission--when it forgets its role to feed and strengthen its future generations with the elements of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction, Action.
      A child in today's society needs a Sentinel of Vigilance more than at any other time in our nation's history.   He or she needs someone to train and teach and guide him or her through the maze of confusion set about by September 11th when the "Evil Ones" appeared on America's doorsteps, and the fantasy that our nation and its children were safe ended.
      To me, the Complacency creeping into our nation signals a pressing need for parents, grandparents, loved ones, to take the Pledge of Vigilance to protect themselves and their children from the grips of Complacency. 

       The elements of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency are time bombs inside a child, waiting to erupt by conditions that drive a child to seek refuge either within himself or herself--in some dark, lonely cave full of horrors--or, by seeking the hand of the Sentinel of Vigilance to guide him or her out of the darkness, away from the bogeymen who lurk in the darkness.
      This is the message I believe all Americans should take from September 11th--the one about how to handle Fear, how to overpower Intimidation, and how to battle the gravity of Complacency.  
       The lack of "flags on cabs" is not as critical an issue as the lack of "Vigilance By Parents."   As I see the flags coming down, I hope they are replaced by ones of Vigilance.  If not, then we are not only vulnerable to the next attack from the next bin Laden, but worse, the Terrorists have won again, by leaving our children unprotected.

 Go To Mar. 19--Testicular Terrorism

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