by Terry Camsey, Major –
I have written recently about restless horses. Let me today start off by talking about restless legs.
Many years ago, I frequently found myself with the International Staff Band, at Royal Albert Hall in London, England, in connection with some Army event or another. Those events, even single festivals, would go on for some time. Occasionally we would be there for the best part of a day.
Those days could be agony for me. The chairs we sat on had very comfortable padded seats, but a serious problem arose due to a number of possible reasons: either the seats were too high because the legs of the chairs were too long; or the floor was too low; or my legs were too short!
The result was that my feet would dangle just above the floor and, after an hour or so, would get very restless and jumpy. Well, let me be brutally honest—the real reason was that my legs were (and are to this day), too short for comfort on high chairs! But could it have been that the chair seats were too high; or the floor too low? Nah!
All of this is to suggest that there can be many ways to examine a problem. In fact, to come up with the best solution, it always pays to rephrase a problem in as many different ways as possible. With each focus additional possible solutions may surface. In this instance, I could have considered sawing the legs off the chair—or growing my legs longer!
What we see, our perception, very much influences our behavior in any situation. In fact, the word “attitude” has more than one interpretation. It can describe a state of mind. It can also describe where we stand relative to something else—which, in turn, impacts how that “something else” is viewed.
Interestingly, if we change our stance (where we stand, what we see, and how we see it), we may find that our mind is changed as well.
Did you read in Salvationist the recent interview with (now retired) General John Larsson? He was asked about his perception of challenges facing The Salvation Army today. As part of his response he said this: “The Salvation Army is not called to be a 19th century Army—but a 21st century Army that speaks to the needs of today in the language of today.” One has to infer from this that there are those among us who would prefer a 19th century Army rather than a 21st century Army, that “speaks to the needs of today in the language of today.”
That is an interesting phrase, “speaking the language of today.” There are many ways to speak. Our language: It is estimated that, in the U.S. today, at least five varieties of the English language are used! Our actions: Is it clear to the public that what we do socially is different from what any other social services agency does, I wonder? Our appearance: I see bell-bottom pants around (not in the Army I hasten to say) a lot these days; it smacks of a return to the 1960s when pants’ bottoms represented rebellion. Our attitude: Where we stand as well as what we think.
Our actions, of course, are very much determined by what we think. The problem is that people see things differently. One challenge we face is getting guidance, about exactly how to turn a 19th century Army into a 21st century Army, from those actually in a position to influence direction.
The average Salvationist seems to sense a disconnect in how the Army speaks to today’s world, yet feels powerless or lacks the guidance to help turn the Army into a 21st century Army.
I remember once reading a phrase that struck me as very sage. It said this:
If a man knows what to do, but doesn’t know what not to do, then he doesn’t know what to do!
What if a man doesn’t know what to do—and doesn’t know what not to do? Now that’s a challenge!