Today in America, we are all, once again, Citizen Soldiers.
One of my most memorable conversations with family was with my wife's grandmother, Jane, who was a frail but spirited woman at the time. During World War II, she made bomb racks, working with rivets in a factory. America was fully mobilized to fight the threat of National Socialism and Imperial Japan. During World War II, many Americans staged drives for old pots and pans, became air raid wardens or grew the vast Victory Gardens across America. An estimated twenty million Americans manned these gardens which produced up to an astounding 40 percent of vegetables. The Home Front produced food and embraced a U.S. War Department slogan: "Our Food is Fighting."
We now live in highly uncertain and challenging times with a crashing economy, heightened Mideast tensions with Iran and the ongoing threat to terrorism. In today's world, incredible technology innovations make our lives, easier, faster and more well-connected, but don't necessarily build our character or strengthen our resolve for natural disasters, terror strikes or another survival mode. Where once American Revolutionary farmers were self-reliant, laying down their ploughshares and taking up muskets to fight British tyranny, today we are more dependent. I have seen a person experience withdrawal symptoms from the Internet and it's a disturbing picture. So I ask: what would you do without water?
In the Citizen Soldier Handbook: 101 Ways For Every American To Fight Terrorism, I break down the battle against terrorism (and other threats) into five categories:
Morale. Know what you're fighting for. Yes, you might vaguely say "America," "Freedom" or "Liberty," but handwrite concrete details and put it up on the wall. Freedom to assemble. Freedom to worship, to defend your family, to speak your mind. Furthermore, discover your Heroes, individuals who upheld Freedom and overcame unbelievable circumstances to support American ideals. Start with Washington, Franklin or Jefferson. I developed an admiration for Harriet Tubman, a black woman who escaped slavery in Maryland, became an abolitionist and helped run the Underground Railroad. She worked as a cook, nurse and laundress but also as a Union spy, fundraiser and even led a Union raid to free 700 slaves. Under probable sentence of death and suffering from epilepsy, she is an amazing example of courage and devotion.
Intelligence. Understand the threat of Radical Islam – and not just the physical violence of a terrorist bombing or attack. The Radical Islamist agenda embraces cultural attacks on the American system. Ever notice how terrorists immediately claim human rights abuses in detention or prison? They have been trained to vocalize this claim – no matter how false – because this cultural touchstone elicits public sympathy. The outcry and riots over the Danish Mohammed cartoons were manufactured to stifle Free Speech in America. Yale Press recently published a book that discussed the cartoons – without including the actual cartoons. This situation represents a politically correct attack on our freedoms. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote about terrorist funding in her book, Evil; How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop It, and was sued by a wealthy Saudi sheik for libel in the United Kingdom, where libel law is the opposite of American law. The accused must disprove the accuser. Winning a judgment the Saudi sheik, who donated to terrorist groups, tried to enforce his monetary damage claim here by treaty. The threat was so severe that the publisher of a similar book on terrorist funding, Alms for Jihad, pulled and destroyed their own book. Ultimately, "Rachel's Law" was passed in New York State to protect our First Amendment rights. Some friends and I aided Rachel during this fight. You, too, can write letters protesting special treatment, pressing newspapers for accurate reporting and take politicians to task for appeasement.
Training. Get in physical and mental shape for tough times. Obesity is a national tragedy. How could you live with yourself if loved ones needed help and you couldn't help them because of your own physical restraints? That's a harsh statement for a harsh reality, but set a goal to improve your own health. Americans practically invented self-reliance, but how far have they fallen? Plan to take care of yourself and your family with an emergency plan. Develop the warrior mindset.
Action. Get off the internet as much as possible. Recycling emails to your inner cycle is not action. Many times I've gotten the same e-mail from different people, from different groups, in the same day. This is the "V.I.C." – Vicious Information Cycle. Like a hamster on a wheel, you will go nowhere. Start a Letter writing network. Find five friends who don't write – and write their letters. Have them sign. Mail them. Why? A letter from a constituent is worth 600 to a thousand times more than an e-mail or phone call. Imagine how powerful a six person letter-writing network will be.
Not into letters? How about breaking down doors with an ax? Take up CERT training to help the neighborhood in Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). If you're into visual arts, make a short films to highlight critical issues. Join Operation Gratitude to send packages to the troops. Or join Welcome Home Troops to extend a thankful hand on their return.
Create an Award for a community leader who exemplifies preparedness for the neighborhood and support for the Troops. Start your own local podcast about local issues withcheap Internet technology. Maybe you can evaluate news stories for bias. Clarify the resources and sensationalist headlines to establish real meaning.
You can put a hand across the sea to help women in distressed societies. Microloan programs fund a woman's business overseas in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, wherever your interest takes you. For $300 to $500 (which you can gather by pooling friends), these women start a business, become productive leaders in their community and influence local policy against encroaching Sharia Law. And you get the money back to start over again. It's a loan.
Finally, you might be adept at languages and story writing. Shannen Rossmiller learned Arabic, invented cover story to penetrate Jihadist recruiting websites, and has provided leads to the FBI on terrorist activities. She's a Montana country judge, mother of three, and a housewife fighting Radical Islam from her computer. Her weapon of choices is akeyboard.
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are," said one of my heroes – Theodore Roosevelt. It may just start with your keyboard. But remember what Teddy also said: "Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike."
Are you a Citizen Soldier?
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Michael Mandaville is a writer, filmmaker and activist. He graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a Masters Degree in their prestigious Professional Writing program. In the entertainment industry, he works as a Line Producer/Unit Production Manager (D.G.A.) on films such "Taken," "Havoc" and "The Kiss." He has also written, directed and produced commercials, documentaries, internet media and short films. He wrote the thriller novelStealing Thunder, which won the 2009 Thrillspy Film Festival for Best Novel and the activist nonfiction book, Citizen Soldier Handbook: 101 Ways For Every American To Fight Terrorism.