As a Boy Scout very early on, I was taught to live by 12 points that I recited at every meeting. I pledged to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. And every week I’d screw up at least one of those somehow. I’d do anything from frowning in front of others to pretending to ignore a man asking for change. I sort of thought of these as like the Boy Scout equivalent of the 10 Commandments, as I did better with some than others. That’s just life. Some of you may be familiar with the George Carlin bit where he condenses the 10 Commandments, and I’m going to do that very briefly with the Scout Law here. Disclaimer: I’m an Eagle Scout and proud of it.
The BSA sort of already acknowledges that Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Cheerful and Kind are all pretty much the same thing. The difference (to me) is the degree of superficiality, so I think we can be safe here and nix Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Cheerful. Those are things I’m expected to be as a cashier. I don’t have to be friendly or courteous to other drivers on the road, but what I am expected to be is kind to others. Whether it’s the man crossing the street with a walker or the person who took my car keys (enjoy that Prizm you’re never going to find, it has no power anything), when we show kindness to others, we actually pass it along. Other people see that, and they really do pay it forward. It doesn’t matter if you’re being kind for selfish reasons or if you’re legitimately altruistic in your actions, it affects people. Because no matter what your motives, Kindness is genuine. When I’m a cashier and I give people a Friendly hello or Courteously hold the door or Helpfully explain the menu, nobody cares. And I can shrug it off because I’m just hired help. Kind is one I think we can keep.
Scout Law Count: 8 points left.
Skipping ahead a little bit, let’s take a look at those last two – Clean and Reverent. The BSA also acknowledges that Clean is supposed to go above and beyond showering every day. Because if you’re not showering, you may want to go evaluate some aspects of your life. If you’re in a 3rd World country, that’s one thing, but there’s no excuse not to be physically clean if you’re up here in a developed part of the world. Rather, Clean really refers to your behavior. Try to avoid swearing and stuff as much as possible, don’t go around having a bunch of meaningless sex and spreading diseases, and generally leave a good impression on other people.
The Reverent thing sort of carries along in that same vein. While the BSA isn’t exactly cool with having athiests around, beliefs such as Islam and Judaism are perfectly fine if Christianity isn’t your thing. So you’re encouraged to practice your faith, and most faiths have some clause in there somewhere about loving everybody, right? Essentially, what they’re saying here is basically have some faith and respect that of others. Sounds a lot like keeping a Clean tongue to me, and now that I’m thinking about it a little more, these two could both roll back into that Kind thing, so we’re going to go with that.
Scout Law Count: 6 points left.
And now that we’ve eliminated the back end, we’ve got no choice but to back up even further. So, Obedient. I understand Obedience to a point. But nobody is obedient unless there’s a motive to it. You listen to your boss because they know what needs to be done in order to keep an operation moving. You obey the law because laws keep people safe and society functioning. You think things are crazy in the world now, imagine how nuts people must’ve been when like the Code of Hammurabi or whatever came out. Obedient falls under the same common sense blanket that Clean did, so I think we can nix this one. I’m also not totally sure why Thrifty is in there either, because this is Boy Scouts and I don’t know if I can really name any guys who enjoy going out and just blowing money, so we’ll nix that one on the grounds of common sense too.
Scout Law Count: 4 points left.
We’re left with Trustworthy, Loyal, Kind, and Brave. Sounds like your typical Prince Charming right there, doesn’t it? I don’t like that analogy, so I think we can nix Brave. I’m not slaying any dragons, and standing up in courage sort of makes me think it should fall under Loyal. Much better.
I don’t think there’s an ounce of coincidence that those are my favorite three. When I’m looking at someone, those are without a doubt the qualities I want to see manifest in them. When I grew up watching Lance Armstrong power through the Pyrenees after coming back from cancer, I knew what type of person I wanted to be. Watching Cleveland sports teams coming so close every time to winning something important, I knew that I wanted to be able to show dedication in the face of loss and adversity. Watching Notre Dame’s near-miraculous “comeback” season this year, I remained firm in my conviction that it is the most magical place on Earth.
But this week, Lance admitted to Oprah that he cheated. The Browns recently hired a coach I’m sure is going to flop. This whole Manti Te’o story is still unfolding, and no matter what really happened, it’s going to be rough on the school to have to deal with this. And none of it matters to me because of those 4 points above. Lance made cycling fear the Americans who’d been laughed at for so long, and he’s raised so much for cancer research. Nobody can ever strip him of the title of Survivor. I will continue to watch the Browns, Cavs, and Indians week in and week out because I’m proud of where I’m from. And I’m going to apply one more time to the University of Notre Dame.
I trust these people and organizations to learn from their mistakes as I hope to do from my own. I’ll forever be loyal to the things that raised me no matter their faults. I’ll gladly sacrifice for them, be it through buying a ticket or sharing my memories with the next generation.
Trustworthy, Loyal, and Kind. What does that really boil down to?
It’s Love. Unconditional Love. And healthy or not, it’s all I have to give.