A Scout Is…

Time for evaluation

Rumpled patch from the author’s hoard.

Long before any hint of bankruptcy due to the legal costs of dealing with suits stemming from sexual abuse, I was a Boy Scout. I was never aware of any heinous crimes of the type described in the courts.

Our Scoutmaster was my Dad. My young self believed he would protect us from all harm. My old self is sure of it.

The experience of Scouting was a positive one. That I made a conscious decision to stop acquiring merit badges one short of the level needed for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout was a disappointment to my father, but he understood that I was choosing my own path instead of going with the flow. Perhaps he even respected the decision.

But I stayed long in the Boy Scouts because of camping. Getting out in the woods all year round was exhilarating. Gathering wood and building fires and hiking to see what was beyond the next hill was well worth the pain of meetings and “advancement.”

And some of the studies and requirements of the merit badges are quite useful. In particular, the knots learned to get the Pioneering badge have served well throughout life.

Also remembered is the Scout Law. Recounted in a triplet rhythm (Trustworthy-Loyal-Helpful, pause…), the 12 values remain stuck in my head over 50 years later. And I sometimes ponder how true to them I’ve been.

A patch from the author’s collection, not so rumpled, denoting umbrella organizations.

The 12 points are also pertinent to the citizens of the United States. That the organization that created the Scout Law has been hypocritical to the max is irrelevant. The points still apply.

So let’s see how.

“The Scout Law has 12 points. Each is a goal for every Scout. A Scout tries to live up to the Law every day. It is not always easy to do, but a Scout always tries.”

According to the Boy Scout Law, a Scout is:

TRUSTWORTHY. Tell the truth and keep promises. People can depend on you.

While “truth” may no longer be an operative word, minimizing the detrimental effects of myths believed is still a laudable goal. As far as being dependable, note the fine line between being there for others and being used by others.

LOYAL. Show that you care about your family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and country.

Which constitutes the best loyalty: Always nodding in agreement, or asking reasonable questions? Though often creating resentment, questioning authority provides it with an opportunity for improvement.

HELPFUL. Volunteer to help others without expecting a reward.

The reward is the helpfulness. Activities in support of others can make a real difference to both the giver and receiver.

(Authors note: Though I continue to try to be helpful, my account is clearly slanted toward those who have helped me over and over again.)

FRIENDLY. Be a friend to everyone, even people who are very different from you.

Well, amigo, the definition has become blurred. Clicking on a button to declare oneself a friend does not define friendship. Friendship comes from mutual support and actions in service of the Vulcan desire that your friends “Live long and prosper.”

COURTEOUS. Be polite to everyone and always use good manners.

Whoa! What has happened to courtesy? It is altogether too scarce a commodity. Has contempt supplanted courtesy?

My good friend Ed postulates that our interactions with machine servants may be a part of the problem. We don’t thank our apps for completing assigned tasks and swear when we can’t fathom the arcane and buried menus to find the proper button. Perhaps this carries over into human-to-human interactions.

KIND. Treat others as you want to be treated. Never harm or kill any living thing without good reason.

Don’t squish them. Catch those spiders and throw them outside.

OBEDIENT. Follow the rules of your family, school, and pack. Obey the laws of your community and country.

Anarchy serves only bullies. Guardrails are good, and rules are necessary, but they need to be continuously evaluated.

CHEERFUL. Look for the bright side of life. Cheerfully do tasks that come your way. Try to help others be happy.

18 years after Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in Britain as an organization to prepare boys for military service, Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin wrote “When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’
The whole world smiles with you.” It remains generally true to this day.

THRIFTY. Work to pay your own way. Try not to be wasteful. Use time, food, supplies, and natural resources wisely.

The Prince of Darkness implores you to turn out the light when you leave the room. And how much “stuff” do we really need?

BRAVE. Face difficult situations even when you feel afraid. Do what you think is right despite what others might be doing or saying.

“Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness. You got to speak your mind, if you dare,” sing Crosby, Stills, and Nash in Long Time Gone. We can all agree that there is no current lack of madness. But we can’t agree on the causes. We’re being played by those who prosper from our division.

How’s that for speaking out?

CLEAN. Keep your body and mind fit. Help keep your home and community clean.

Picking up the beer cans on the side of the road is the easy part. May you be successful in keeping your mind and body fit, and remember that a major component of both mind and body fitness is flexibility.

REVERENT. Be reverent toward God. Be faithful in your religious duties. Respect the beliefs of others.

We need a bit of work on this last point. No, not just a bit, a great deal. Respecting the beliefs of others means that you do not place your own above theirs. That you do not coerce them to observe the rules you believe your God decrees. That you realize that the design of the Founding Fathers was for a secular republic and not a theocracy.

What do YOU think, Scout?

If you have opinions to the contrary, by all means, comment. But please remember to be consistent with the Scout Law and be kind and courteous.



At Politically Speaking, we come together to share our views on politics and society. We are a proud supporter of equality and fair treatment for all people. We stand against racism and the oppression of people of color. Here at Politically Speaking, when we see, we speak!

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Randy Fredlund

I Write. Hopefully, you smile. Or maybe think a new thought. Experiences and observations are presented in words and images.