Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Boys to Men

This year, our eldest son has begun participating in Cub Scouts. He’s part of a fairly new program called Lion Cubs which is open to kindergarten age boys.

It’s not quite the same as the Scouts as I remember it from my days as a Cub and Boy Scout. Like most institutions, the Scouts have gone through a fair amount of politically correct watering down to make them more sensitive, diverse, and welcoming. Some of the squishy language used in pamphlets and guidebooks can be cringe inducing at times.

The amount of personal and medical information you must provide to allow the Scouts to cover their posteriors from a legal perspective is also far greater than it was years ago. Likewise, the extent that the Scouts go to demonstrate that they have safeguards in place to prevent abuse is something that we never had to worry about in our day (thankfully).

Having said all that, it’s hard to name a similar organization that does more to promote traditional values of faith, patriotism, honor, and civic duty than the Boy Scouts of America. They still teach you that are clear differences between right and wrong. They still teach you to respect the American flag and the country it represents. They still teach you to give thanks to God for all that we have been given. They still teach boys the skills and virtues they need to be men.

And they do some other things that most people probably aren’t aware. For example, last month I sat across from a gent who worked for the Boy Scouts in the Twin Cities. He told me about a couple of the programs that he was involved in.

One was to recruit Scouts from the inner city schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These potential recruits included Somali immigrants, whose parents were often distrustful of any organization that they might associate with the government. He said that he learned not to wear his Scout uniform when he visited their homes lest they think he was a member of the military.

Another effort that he was involved in was an outreach to get Hispanic boys involved in Scouting. He spoke fluent Spanish and explained that the group (can’t remember if it was a pack or troop or both) wasn’t organized by geography, but by a shared language and cultural background. They did all the same things as other Scouts while also emphasizing activities where they shared an interest such as playing soccer.

Not everyone is keen on the idea that there are significant numbers of Somali and Hispanic immigrants (mostly from Mexico and Central America) in the Twin Cities. But here they are and one of the big challenges with both groups (to varying degrees) is to ensure that they become more assimilated into American culture and adopt the values and beliefs that have made the country what it is. What better group to do that than the Boy Scouts? In fact, what group is really even trying to do this other than the Boy Scouts?

In today’s American media you won’t hear much about all the good the Scouts do of course. No, you’ll hear about “controversies” they’re involved because they have the audacity to believe that they have the right to put up a cross at one of their camps or be able to choose leaders who hold the same beliefs as the organization. Because the Boy Scouts remain committed to core principals and have shown that they are willing to stand up for them, they are hated by the secular Left which rarely misses an opportunity to seek to defund, delegitimatize, and defame the Scouts usually by going through the courts to seek to bring government sanction against them. This is not dissimilar to the approach they take against the Catholic Church.

Which leads to a questioning of the claims of these Leftists that they are only trying to help the people. If they really cared about people and the greater good wouldn’t they weigh all the good that groups like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts do against their supposed transgressions and decide that the benefits far outweigh the costs? Is it really more important that the Catholic Church be forced to help gay couples adopt at the risk of losing the adoption services the Church has long provided? Is the cause of getting the Church to pay for someone’s birth control more important than recognizing all the programs the Church has that help the least and the lost? Should you really seek to defund the Boy Scouts because they won’t allow openly gay leaders if that defunding also impacts all the other worthy work they do?

To the Left, the answer is yes. Seeing that their ideology is enforced and any opposition to it destroyed is far more important than actually helping people. The result is aptly described by this excerpt from a First Things article on Michael Oakeshoot

Moral ideals, and by extension other ideals, Oakeshott wrote in a striking passage in “Rationalism in Politics,” are a kind of sediment and have significance “only so long as they are suspended in a religious or social tradition, so long as they belong to a religious or a social life.” When this religious and social tradition withers, we are left with nothing but the dry and gritty residue “which chokes us as we try to take it down.” Thus we have the spectacle “of a set of sanctimonious, rationalist politicians, preaching an ideology of unselfishness and social service to a population in which they and their predecessors have done their best to destroy the only living root of moral behavior.”

There aren’t many such roots remaining to keep our society anchored. The Scouts are still one of them.