by Terry Camsey, Major –
A man was walking down the road on a very blustery, rainy, day. He was struggling to keep control of his umbrella while also keeping his hat on. A sudden gust of wind blew his hat off, and it fell into the front garden of a nearby house. To his horror, he saw a bulldog emerge from its kennel, make a beeline for the hat, and tear it to shreds! The owner of the dog came to the door to see what was happening, so the pedestrian complained to him. The dog’s owner was totally disinterested. The man who had lost his hat said, “I don’t like your attitude.” “Wasn’t my ‘at ‘e chewed,” was the response!
Attitude. An interesting word. It can mean: a position of the body or manner of carrying oneself. It can also mean: a state of feeling or mind about a person or situation. Then again, it can mean: one’s stance or orientation relative to something, or someone else.
I guess that our attitude towards someone or something else, or our attitude towards a situation very much depends on our perception. How we, personally, see things. For instance, when I was younger I used to tell jokes about (among many other things) “old people.” “There was this old man of seventy-four who…”
You know what? If I try to tell any of those jokes today, I find myself deliberately changing the age of the “old man” to eighty-four, or ninety-four. Why? Because I am becoming the old man of the jokes myself! My attitude has changed; I see old age from a different perspective.
It can be somewhat similar when looking at something from a reverse perspective. What was contemporary in my younger days is a part of the fabric of who I am. Younger generations who see those things as quaint make me feel somewhat uncomfortable, because I certainly don’t want to be seen myself as quaint! And I do understand that in this day and age those things are quaint. Many appear on the “Antiques Road Show”!
When I was a very young band boy, I thought wearing a band cap embarrassing…it was something that older (quaint?) people wore and—whenever I could get away with it—I’d carry it in a paper bag until within a block of the corps, then I’d put it on!
Stand up collar uniforms look quaint to me today, although I wore one regularly and for many years in my younger days. Now, I feel that lay down collars look much more “contemporary.” I have a notebook my mother had in officer training many years ago. In it she talks of a visiting lecturer mentioning that he had been approached by an elderly Salvationist in a very old bonnet. That was in the late nineteen twenties. I imagine that, to that elderly Salvationist, the bonnet she wore was contemporary when she was younger.
I guess that today, when we rarely see a bonnet worn, some will (after years of the commander hat, followed by the Canadian or UK felt hat, followed by—in many settings—no hat at all) consider it quaint, though it was contemporary in the Army’s early days.
But, to my point (and I apologize to any reader who finds this column has meandered). These days there seems in the Army to be a widening chasm between those who look forward and those who prefer to look back. Their attitudes to people and things, as well as to the passing of time, profoundly impact their words and actions.
It’s been said: “Those who live in the past sacrifice the present!” To which I would add, “…and so jeopardize the future.”
We were all (old and young alike) blessed to be able to experience the Army in our heyday. But now is all the time we have to build our legacy for the generations that follow. We can shape the future we feel God wants to see.
But, do you feel the best years of the Army are behind or before us? Your response will have a significant impact on our future. What’s your attitude?
…and don’t say, “It’s not my ‘at ‘e chewed!!”