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She is only nine years old.  She is beautiful, brilliant, strong, confident and fearless.  She is the woman her mother wants to become, and her mother is a very powerful woman in a world dominated by men.   Her parents -- aware of what they have wrought -- make sure this angel of light is constantly trained to use her powers only for good, never for evil.

One day, the angel was writing an important letter she wanted to deliver free from prying eyes.  She asked her father how much stamps cost.  

"Who are you mailing it to?" he asked.  "It's a secret," she replied clutching the letter to her chest.  "I don't need to know the contents, just who you are writing to," he said. "Otherwise, I can't help you with postage."  She relented and told him.  It was for her friend down the street.  "Why don't you just call her?" he asked.  "Because I want to keep it private," she said.  "Use the upstairs phone," he suggested.

She looked at him as if he were a fool. "I'm not worried about you, Daddy.  It's the government.  They listen to everything."  She pointed to the Washington Post and snarled, "They admitted it."

Her father gazed into her angelic eyes, horrified to see the handiwork of monsters staring back...

Welcome to the death of innocence at the hands of monsters.

No one wants to die.  But given the choice between death and suffering, many in their fear choose death.  Sometimes it is obvious and we are left to clean up the remains.  Sometimes it is completely hidden, and no one sees the lifeless heart that hauls the broken spirit through yet another dreary day.  Sometimes death comes suddenly and dramatically.  Sometimes it comes slowly, creeping in inch by inch like a hideous vine choking the tree of life.  

When a pure heart walls itself off in fear how will it grow?  All that limitless power and confidence and joy telescope in to a little lonely space.  The Ouroboros of fear takes up residence and feeds on itself until nothing is left to share with others.  First goes the joy.  Then the confidence.  The power remains to the end, but whether it is used for good or evil becomes secondary to survival.   Situational ethics  take over.  The ends justify the means.  Life becomes nasty, brutish and short.

Osama bin Laden did not do this to her.  Nameless, stateless terrorists did not do this to her.  She did not conjure up these phantoms in her closet after watching a horror movie.  No, the enemies of life, the purveyors of perpetual war, the fearmongering toadies of unaccountable authority did this to her.  

They did it to all of us, she just happened to notice they admitted what they were doing.

These dark agents did not act alone.  They were enabled by people who lulled us into believing they represented the better angels of our nature, that they would defend us against ourselves.   We armed our defenders with a popular mandate, but they are afraid to wield that power.  Their cowardice has permitted the contagion of fear to spread unchecked.  By enabling this, these erstwhile defenders have themselves become the monsters we have sought to contain.   And now they have contaminated the souls of our children.  

As we look into the mirror, the questions we have to ask are more difficult than before.  The question is not simply how will we battle the monsters among us.  The question is also what do we do with the monsters we helped create?

[Originally published Aug. 3, 2007.  
Even a child could have told you what was going on.]

Who must do the hard things?  Those who can.
-- Shibumi

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