So today we had a visit from our TC, Hasse Kjellgren. One of the topics that was discussed was uniform, some people got agitated because they like the uniform and some got angry because the uniform should not be a big deal and therefore, a waste of time to discuss.
The argument for the uniform is usually that it gives us visibility and therefore is a tool by wich we can reach the lost. The argument against is usually, it’s old fashioned it turns people away (especially young people).
I have a special relationship with uniforms that was fashioned during a decade of everyday uniform wearing. The guardian angel uniform (a red beret, white T-shirt or hood with logo on and BDU trousers black or camoflage) is a firld uniform and not a parade uniform like the formal uniform of the salvation army, but contrary to the field uniform issued in for example sweden and england, wich comes in many different models and colors it was a uniform uniform.
When I saw the first article i the local newspaper I thought, wow they are cool, I wan’t to look like that. I immediately applied and started the hard physical and mental training to become a Guardian Angel – Safety Patrol member or “safety” as it was called for short. The training was hard no compromise was allowed, if you even looked like you broke the rules (No weapons, no alcohol in uniform, no rasism, no violence, disobeying orders or disrespecting members, leaders or anybody at all in uniform) you where out the door. After two months of hard training that would make navy boot camp seem soft, some where given RTP status. Ready to patrol what a lovely day that was first time we got to don the beret. It was not full membership we had to wear a modified version of the “colors” (the uniform) where the words “Safety patrol” where replaced with the words “I Support”. It was surreal I was walking down the street a vortex of feelings, fear, mixed with pride, self conciousnes and many others. Everybody gawked at us as we walked down the streets, conversations died out, heads turned.
I remember our trainer saying today you will put on the uniform of the Guardian Angels, In these uniforms people have died to defend the weak and defenseless, today you will get the respect due to all the work the Angels have done all over the world, maybe one day you will deserve it.
I remember putting on the uniform with reverence (looking at pictures from back then I know I looked like an idiot, it took me at least 5 years before the uniform looked good on me, as I had become the man the uniform said I was). I saw how the body language and mindsets of my friends changed when they put the uniform on. Bullies became compassionate, scared geeks became full of confidence and strength. The uniform was more than clothes it was the symbol for justice and non violence, a symbol for all the blood sweat and tears of our training, a symbol for a better world than the one we lived in and it gave us courage and super powers. In this uniform I have seen a 16 year old girl half my height stop a hells angel dead in his tracks with a command. I have seen how teenagers have run in and covered victims of assault with their own bodies. I have seen feats of strength and courage I never thought possible, all this just because of a uniform and an ideal. Not by Faith since there is surprisingly few Christians in the Guardian Angels.
What the uniform gave these young people was identity. Identity and respect that they could never have gotten on their own. And when you are treated with respect you grow up to be respectable.
The uniform is so much more than visibility, it is so much more than just clothes. It is a very powerful tool, a tool that affirms that we are soldiers in a battle, that we belong together and that we belong to God. Every time I put my uniform on it is a profetic act, an act wher I say YES to God, I say here I am send me, use me! We need a uniform that fills all these purposes, one that is practical in battle on the streets, one that will make young people say wow, I want to look like them. But also one that will make people turn their heads when we walk down the street, and one that will remind us of the war, the casualities but most importantly the captain of the host, our saviour Jesus Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our victory!