02 January, 2009

A Disney New Year...

I am currently at Disneyland...the happiest place on earth! And while I could blog on the injustice of a 'land' that inculcates magic and excess as an inspiring and truly utopian existence...I will refrain (mostly so that the guilt attached to the many 'keychains' I have bought as gifts will stay firmly embedded in my 'laughing place'). Instead I will attempt the miraculous and find an acorn of application in this massive nutty place.

I was lining up for Space Mountain having managed to avoid two hour queues with my nifty 'fast-pass', and I noticed something you rarely see at Disneyland. There was rubbish on the floor! Disneyland is notorious for being clean. And so to see an obvious piece of trash made both my husband and myself halt...perplexed by how it got there, and also, by how it remained there. It was a strange moment.

How can I possibly manufacture a justice thought from this ridiculously common situation? Well, I started to think...how and why is it so unusual for me to see rubbish here, and not elsewhere. The how is easy. First, there are lots of cleaners, and second, people don't drop their rubbish in this place. They, for some reason, do the right thing and put it in the bin. Why? This is more complex, but clearly, the culture of the place infects you, and you begin to act in alternate ways. I generally don't break into song while waiting for my food. I generally don't whistle a happy tune while waiting 20 minutes to use the bathroom. I generally don't smile when cut off by an oblivious parent with a giant pram! But at Disneyland, I do! The culture of Disneyland is so infectious and can therefore be aptly named 'the happiest place on earth'...even by me!

It's madness, but culture can help alter selfish and negative behaviour. It doesn't transform it, only God can redeem and transform. But it can move you into a zone where selflessness and joy become an option. This is important stuff so hold that thought.

The second question becomes how Disney creates this culture. The only answer I can come up with is 'resource and restrict'. They spare no expense and provide the people with the necessary resources to make sure their goals are met. And, they don't allow the things in the park that will disrupt their mission. They don't make any exceptions. And the result? They have people flocking to them to give them the joy and happiness they seek.

So my point? We, The Salvation Army have a mission. We want to create the happiest place on earth, and want that place to be 'earth'...all the lands. We need to create a culture in which justice, peace, love, acceptance, forgiveness, equality, and freedom are basic standards. To do this, we need resources. We need to start investing our money (and we have lots of it) into the right places. We need to resource this Army so that it can be released. We need to be releasing our people into places where this culture and this mission can be spread. And we need to be restrictive. We need to stop thinking that we are going to bring about a 'just' society, when our own lives are far from any template worthy to be modeled. We need to restrict ourselves to a simple life. We need to restrict our people to lives of justice. We need to say, 'we will not tolerate selfish behaviour', and we must stop watering down the mission of The Salvation Army. We need to create the culture, and that all starts with us living out the mission.

People are looking for joy and happiness, and when we finally learn how to deliver it, the people will flock.

It's resolution time. Please try to think about more than your waist line or your credit line. Think about restricting your life so that it can become the start of a trend that will alter the culture of the world. And start using your resources to help others to do the same.

Happy New Year! Next week's post will be from Australia!!!

Good times till then,

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