My friend Russ emailed me a while ago with some “ramblings of a lifelong Boy Scout”. It is the Scout Sabbath tomorrow when the group celebrates their founding in America so today is a good day for me to finally write about Russ’ ramblings.
The Scouts motto is “Be Prepared”. That’s right in line with the idea in the Hero Workshop of the heroic habit leading to heroes-in-waiting. By regularly practicing character and learning useful skills Scouts are preparing for incidents that will require them. You can see this happening in news stories fairly regularly. The president of Maldives was saved from a would be assassin recently by a Boy Scout named Mohamed Jaisham. He said, “The Scout motto is ‘Be Prepared’, and at that time I was prepared. It helped me so much. It’s my training”. Russ supplied this article about some Scouts bring an injured woman down a mountain on a stretcher they made. That’s enough from me – here’s what Russ had to say.
My background is that of a lifelong Boy Scout and former full time Paramedic.
The term “hero” is frequently utilized in the public safety arena, especially following September 11. I think that the Boy Scouts hit on something when they limit their recognition to actions which are outside of any established duty.
I believe the traits of a hero can be taught. The Boy Scouts strives to teach young men about character and integrity through the 12 points of the Scout Law (Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent)and the Scout Oath (On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people and all time, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight). It is people who demonstrate accepted character traits such as these on a daily basis that come closest to my internal definition of a hero.
The actions recognized in many of the heroism awards are the results of utilizing the skills taught through the program such as first aid, water rescue or wilderness survival when the opportunity arises – without the obligation to help. It is these selfless acts that are often reported in the media.
As I have tried to examine the “heroes” of my life I struggle. Many people played a significant role in helping me come the person that I am but as I have gotten older I have become a bit of a cynic. Those adults that had the biggest impact on me as a youth were human and often had significant flaws in other parts of their lives.
I wonder if the term hero is better applied in death rather than life – somewhat like the word saint. Do their actions stand the test of time and rise to the top as the overall description of a person’s character.
There’s a lot of good points in there.
- The cynicism of adult life making it harder for us to imagine who our heroes are. How much easier was it to identify your heroes as a child?
- Helping without obligation. When it’s your duty to help, does that really make you a hero?
- Demonstrating desirable character traits on a regular basis.
I know there are some ex-Boy Scouts reading. Chuck or AJ, what are your thoughts on heroism in the Scouts? Are there any ex-Girl Scouts reading? Are there similarities or differences?