On the Corner

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25 and still on the corner

by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief – 

New Frontier enters its 25th year of publication with the arrival of 2007.

I have enjoyed the great pleasure of working with some wonderful and talented people over this quarter century, and with them, informing our readership of important events within the territory, the nation and worldwide.

We have also sought to have a point of view. We love the Army and everything that it can be. It is a beacon of hope. We are certain Bill Booth had remarkable commitments to the poor, the oppressed, the addicted and to sinners of any shape, size, culture or income level.

We continue to honor that commitment even today. We are equally certain Booth’s autocratic style of leadership would not be successful today. Within our pages we have tried to reveal how creative officers, soldiers and employees use innovative and contemporary means to achieve the same ends to which Booth was committed.

There are, however, some among us who go through the “motions” of Salvationism in the firm belief that the methodology of the past is essential for a dramatically different present.

We have sought to lead the foray against the “slippers and sliders” of the organization that pays the bills. These are those who resist studied change and seek only to maintain a status quo of insulated, moribund defeatism that allows a great organization to very gradually wither on the vine. Too often, their behavior does not match their beliefs.

We have struggled with other “mirror-holders” to reveal the reflection of the Army to itself. Sometimes it displays hard-working people happily confronting a Katrina-like tide of despair and disillusion. At other times it reflects the stories and images of hard working corps officers saving souls, growing saints and serving a suffering world.

Too often, however, it is an image of a sleeping giant whose moral voice has grown somewhat hoarse on the “street corners” of the world.

We have sought “with all our hearts” to help this magnificent organization perceive itself accurately as an essential and vital force for good in the world—to help it find its voice and actualize its moral authority.

Our method has been two-fold: first, to trumpet the efforts and successes of Salvationists who, with a firm sense of our true identity, courageously work tirelessly in the dark of small communities and giant metropolises. They struggle all too quietly to lift up the optimistic, forward looking Army ethos and ethic of love and salvation. Secondly, we strive to elevate awareness of the Army’s historic role in society as a firm and passionate moral voice in the world on the critical moral issues that face the culture.

We have not been universally successful in achieving this. It is not easy, but it’s far from impossible. We continue to be optimistic—internally controlled—over the premise that awareness leads to assessment, and that assessment leads to change.

We continue to find allies—some in significant offices within communities—some wearing red or purple or crimson epaulets—some employees doing the hard slugging—all trying to lift both society and individuals, both disoriented and unfocused by their quest for survival through invisibility. We seek to continue to advocate the means by which members of this culture move from a place of disillusionment and despair to one of hope and achievement; from an attitude of hate and intolerance to one of love and acceptance; from voices emanating from “unclean lips” using pessimistic words of negativity to one of positive “can-do” optimism; from a place of fear to one of confidence.

We want this Army to become mirror-holders for America.

When America looks what will she see? What moral issues will be locked within the shadows of this glass seen darkly and largely ignored—“seen but not perceived?”

How about Health Insurance?

Health coverage in this country is largely driven by employers. Being employed, however, does not guarantee health benefits. Often employers hire a segment of their workers into categories that do not require medical benefits. These are part-time or half-time workers. Moreover, some employers require a designated period of pre-coverage employment, and then terminate the individual just prior to reaching the end of that period.
Are these practices morally sound? Absolutely not! Should the Army, in concert with other like minded organizations, speak out against them? By all means!

The Army, however, is also an employer. Do we embrace any practices that parallel some of these acts I have labeled as wrong? If so, how can we justify criticizing others while engaging in the same practice for which we indict them?

What about poverty, homelessness and health? People who are poor are often less likely to have adequate health coverage than those employed. If they are ill, they flood the emergency rooms of America’s public hospitals.

Using 2005 statistics, 46.6 million Americans or 15.9% of the total population are uninsured. Around 11% of those the Census Bureau labels “white non- Hispanic” are uninsured. Similarly uninsured are 19.6% of African American population; 17.9% Asian; and 32.7% of those labeled Hispanic.

I’m aware of our non-profit status and advocacy impositions this places on us. There is nothing, however, that forbids or inhibits our speaking out on moral issues. Booth did. We must as well.
It’s great to be 25 and have so much advice for others.

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