Saturday, February 6, 2010

In the past I have written about my love/hate relationship with the uniform. The wearing of it opens doors, no question about it. But it also smacks of exclusiveness, rendering the non-wearer as an outsider, not part of “the special club.” I love the concept that “WARrobe: Army Apparel,” (found on FaceBook) is promoting – the idea of uniform wearing as spontaneous, contemporary and culturally relevant – non-threatening to the “outsider.”

I took the photos above, my contribution to their promotional campaign because I think they’re on to something here. Now, I know this is not going down well with some for all the obvious reasons, but for me it is quintessential Salvationism in motion.

Salvationism is a two part word: Salvation + ism. The salvation part is never changing – the same, yesterday, today, forever (The conservative part). Ism, by its proper definition is “a movement” – always changing: “Mobile, fluid, robust, pulsating, progressive, maturing – Genesis in motion.” In other words, our methodology needs to stay relevant, inclusive and flexible in order to reach the last, the lost and least (The liberal part).

Commissioner Harry Reid defines it this way: "Salvationism is an engine-room kind of word, for within its robust, energy-exuding frame pulsates the heart of the Army. Here, the essential beliefs of the Movement, its active, maturing and progressive concepts, its love and service-centred ministries, all reside in a living, quick-to-respond balance for the benefit of mankind."

Several liberal “movement”-type phrases jump out at me: “…within its robust, energy-exuding frame pulsates…active, maturing and progressive concepts…living, quick to respond…”

For me, personally, Primitive Salvationism is an oxymoron because Salvationism is never primitive; it is always relevant, contemporary and spontaneous, spewing forth autonomy and individuality. That’s what makes it scary i.e., forcing one to look over the edge once in awhile.

Also risk is relative. One person’s risk is another person’s opportunity. One may see risk as opportunity, whilst another sees it as uncertainty. Risk-taking is entirely individualistic by definition. “Conforming risk-taker” is also an oxymoron. Doing it the way its always been done is not risky business; it’s called, safety, status quo.

I have assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the risk I speak about will be interpreted as good risk. Risks must always be taken for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Also, you will find that good, calculated, risk-taking begins to dissipate as mission metamorphosis into institutionalism. Early day Salvationists were risk-takers for the right reasons. Let’s take this primitive concept and make it contemporary, sans the traditional, institutional regulations and regalia. For many that’s too scary (risky) to even think about.


Monday, February 1, 2010

God Knows Where!

What short memories we have. I was the Divisional Commander in the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division when Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai on 9/11 in the year 1992. Coincidently, nine years to the day later, 9/11 in the year 2001, I was the Territorial Commander, headquartered in New York when the World Trade Center buildings came tumbling down. In both instances, I was responsible for all of the disaster relief services administered by The Salvation Army.

I could recount the horror stories chapter and verse, regarding the arrogance and misuse of donated monies, but I won’t because what I write now will be forgotten when the next disaster strikes. Thus, I will keep this brief and channel my creative energy into something more productive. What I have to say is already written in a blog posted over at, titled “Show Us The Mission!”

Simply to say, what short memories we have. For some relief agencies, mission is paramount; for others it’s “Show Us The Money!” What the heck! “THE RED CROSS!” There, I’ve said it out loud. But hey, don’t just listen to me even though I was there first hand and saw it all myself up close and personal. Google “Red Cross Scandal” and your memories will be jogged big time. Here’s one post to get you started titled, “The Red Cross Coming Home to Roost: Remember 9/11 Anyone?” If you’re not into Googling, here are a couple of excerpts:

“Americans have a short and forgiving historical memory. Most can remember last year's Super Bowl champs and World Series winners, but few seem able to remember a $1 billion scandal involving the American Red Cross following 9/11, America's most disastrous terrorist or military attack on its homeland.”

“Jogging your memory a bit -- Red Cross was the flavor of the month following 9/11. Celebrities, corporations and foundations wrote million-dollar checks and performed or sponsored TV and live events ad infinitum; ad campaigns were rewritten as Red Cross appeals; media outlets pushed their name across the airwaves and online.”

“…served coffee and donuts to rescue workers at the World Trade Center site only to be accused of charging for them. (It later paid Daniel Bouley, New York's star chef, to cook for them after the news about charging for coffee was made public.)”

“Flash forward to Hurricane Katrina and you find the same unthinking, reflexive, robotic response from Diddy to Spielberg and hundreds of other celebrities, businesses and the unknowing public. Primal fear may be what motivates them but their trust is misplaced.”

“Read the New York Times of September 20th and this week's Time Magazine for just the opening salvos of what will become yet another American Red Cross "cause celebre."

As infinitum.

On second thought, I wouldn’t bother Googling all this stuff; you’ll have forgotten it when the next disaster strikes anyway. My apologies for enticing you to read this post, when there are so many more productive things worth doing.

By the way, Michelle Obama (whom I like and respect) has an ad running with a text message number for The Red Cross, as do a host of celebrities and events, including at “The Grammies” last evening. If you’ve forgotten the text message, let me jog your memory: “Haiti” 90999, and another $10 will go to, God knows where?

Hey! What's another Billion dollars, anyway!