If you were to actually look up the word dysfunctional it would have a picture of a Boy Scout troop instead of a definition. Scouting by it’s very nature is a profound reach, it attempts to foist order upon utter chaos.
My son finished his Eagle Scout project, he built a pergola at the National Wildlife Refuge to facilitate bird watching by providing a shaded area, with the help of his troop and many other people. As I watched a group of fourteen and fifteen year old boys assemble from scratch and erect this edifice it was nothing short of a miracle. If you have spent any time at all around pubescent and adolescent boys you know the fog that exists around them. I have theory about male group intelligence also; you can take an above average boy by himself and he will generally make good decisions, but if you add another boy the common IQ drops precipitously. The more boys you add, well when you are cleaning up the mess the common answer seems to be, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
So against that back drop I want to slowly examine the core values instilled into boys during the height of this hormonal fog. The boys join the troop at eleven years of age, think for a minute, eleven. If you have ever attended a middle school dance you can appreciate the nature of what I am telling you. When you have sixth grade boys, who for the most part haven’t had a whiff of puberty standing amongst fully developed eighth grade girls or should I say physically women, the contrast can’t get anymore stark as to how young an eleven year old boy is. So they join the troop and are asked, ney required to learn the Scout Oath.
So let’s start. “On my honor,” what an archaic notion according to our culture today. When elected leaders are sending pictures of their privates to girls they don’t know how old they are, and then when caught they viciously attack the reporters, and then when they can no longer weasel out of it, they check themselves in for “therapy” while they continue to collect their salary and benefits because THEY have no honor it tells us a lot about our culture. For the politicos and media it is okay to have no self-control or respect or dignity because you can lay down the victim card. On the other hand you have the Boy Scouts of America charging eleven year olds to maintain their character because it affects their honor and reputation.
Okay, now moving forward, “I will do my best to do my duty” all right asking for their best, asking them to fulfill their charge, their duty. To try their hardest, to make an effort no matter what the circumstances. How many people to you know today that understand the concept of duty. To fulfill one’s obligations to a greater body of thought, a responsibility to a greater group of people, a loyalty to a concept or principle. One hundred years ago, heck even seventy-five years ago it was common for people to lay down their lives in the line of duty, today that is an event that is rarer and rarer. I read not long ago a group of policemen and firemen watched from the shore as a man drowned in a lake because their “work rules” prohibited them from saving the drowning person. So the BSA is charging an eleven year old to do his best to do his duty.
Now hold onto your seats because that duty is, “to God and my country” WOW!! That is loaded. Talk about old-fashioned values. First to acknowledge a God and a duty to him, something the Archbishop of Canterbury can’t seem to bring himself to do anymore, and to demonstrate patriotism by upholding the values of the country and pledging yourself to live by them.
Now onto some meat and potatoes of the oath, “To help other people at all times.” That calls for being aware of other people’s needs, to assess the situation, to have the skill sets to aid them, and the modesty to accept no rewards other than the fulfillment of an oath. It is a call to service, a promise to be helpful and kind.
“To obey the Scout Law,” this gets a little complicated as there is one Scout law with twelve points. What are those twelve points you ask? A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Okay who wouldn’t want a spouse, friend, boss, employee, child with those character traits? Look at them again, and remember these are character traits, you aren’t born with these you learn and practice them; trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Wow, this is what these boys are required to learn and live by.
“To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Okay, so stay fit, alert, and true to your promises. This is what is asked of boy scouts. Now I won’t bore you with data and stats about the results of scouting but a few google searches will reveal the profound impact it has on the lives of young and old men.
So, with a culture that is so lost, so confused, a group is trying to instill and uphold values of self-reliance, self-respect, and service to others and these people are assailed daily, ridiculed and mocked. So if you see a scout, boy or girl scout salute them, I think you can see they deserve it.
On a personal note, it was some forty five years ago I committed that oath to memory. I am an Eagle Scout.