I dreamt last night that I was trying to lead a group of Scouts to some unknown location. We had many obstacles in our way, and it seemed like there was something or someone at every turn from which I needed to protect my small band of boys.
I spent yesterday upset about the Trump appearance at the National Boy Scout Jamboree. I’m not upset that that the Boy Scouts of America invited him. The organization has a long tradition of inviting sitting presidents to address the Jamboree. They even made a concerted effort to remind attendees how to remain Scoutlike in a potentially divisive situation.
Honestly, I’m not even that upset at the content of Trump’s speech. We all know that Trump does Trump and that he’s guaranteed to go off-script and say some things that are either inappropriate for the moment or just plain don’t make sense in the given setting. Monday’s speech was par for the course.
What I’m tremendously upset about is the reaction from the Scouts, specifically booing President Obama and Hillary Clinton. I expect Trump to be un-Scoutlike in his words and behavior. But I hold those Scouts and Scouters to a higher standard. And a loud enough majority in the audience failed. Publicly. That’s not OK.
As a young Scout, I was taught to respect our public servants and the office of President, even when I don’t agree with the beliefs and policies of those people. I disagree with Trump on every issue with every fiber of my being. But, I am careful to express that respectfully and constructively because I know that, as a leader, I have the Scout Oath and Law to uphold. I’m not perfect, but I work hard not to be a disrespectful jerk when expressing any of my beliefs publicly.
Those in the crowd that booed Obama and Clinton are entitled to their opinion, but they expressed it in a way that broke our Oath and went against our Law. In short, they were disrespectful jerks. The BSA needs to publicly recognize that. Their boilerplate response, while true, just isn’t enough.
I’m a minority liberal (at least in my neck of the woods) in what has historically been an organization that attracts conservative families. I’m used to being the odd one out in any politically tinged conversation around the campfire. But, here’s the funny thing… even when discussing hot button issues like gay leadership or transgender Scouts, we’ve somehow managed to agree to disagree without acting like a bunch of jerkwads.
Back to my dream.
I think the dream is showing me my way forward as I lead my Cub Scout Pack. I have no control over what they might see on the national stage. But, I have the chance to instill the values of the Scout Oath and Law in those boys. Without political bias. To use this moment as a way to teach constructive political discourse through the power of voting and personal participation in the political process. That is how I protect them and get them to their unknown destination.
If you are a Scouter, I ask you to do the same, regardless of your political affiliation. Our nation has lost its way when it comes to political civility. Now is our chance to right that wrong. If we all work locally, we will see the benefits nationally and globally.