Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Eagle Project

It’s a wonderful thing; to see your 13 year old conduct a safety briefing for teens and adults who take him absolutely seriously.  He was preparing his crew of 9 for some trail building along a steep incline into a canyon that will connect one trail network  to another.  With strong supporting roles from his father, Walt, and the the Espanola Station Forest Ranger, Jennifer Sublett. My son Jack will make Eagle Scout at 13 and a quarter.  This matters because his brother made it at 13 and three quarters.

A lot of folks think scouting is quasi-militaristic and it is.  A lot of folks think it’s Christian, and it is.  And a lot of other people think it’s exclusionary to gays, which I really don’t know about.  All I know is that a private organization that fosters leadership and camaraderie while actually accomplishing something useful for the community is a rare bird.

I don’t “do” Boy Scouts.  I observe my sons and husband doing it.  And if it glorifying the power of uniform and rank is somehow brainwashing the youth of America, I just don’t see it.  Rank and uniforms are everywhere, in business suits and VP titles, on sports teams, in volunteer committees with their secretaries and treasurers. Uniforms are subtle but ever-present; conforming to the accepted norm for the group and locale.

The Christian accusation?  Yeah, so what?  You’ve got to be something or nothing; so if Boy Scouts wasn’t Christian, it could be Jewish or Sufi, or pantheistic, or atheistic.  I’m not one to say one religious or intellectual approach is better or worse.  I just try ot keep it in perspective.  Boy Scouts has a spiritual component, expressed via Christian tenets.  If that’s wrong; my guess is it would be deemed equally wrong if Boy Scouts expressed  the spiritual component through Sufi, rationalist, or atheistic tenets.  Including a spiritual component is what matters to me. As a parent I can discuss how that component fits with my son’s emerging spiritual views.  I’m comfortable with that.

And finally the anti-gay thing?  Seriously?  Must all organizations be all things to all people?  Boy Scouts is a private, non profit association.  No one is forced to join.  If the leadership has made a policy decision to exclude gays, as not aligned with the rest of their tenets, that is their right.  Didn’t I learn in civics that rights not enumerated in the Constitution belong to the people?  Like the right to associate freely?  Somewhere the legislato-philes who seek creation of new laws for every knat that irritates them, forgot this.  

Boy Scouts made a good and true thing happen today, for our community and for my son.    And I believe such constructive work happens all over communities and families across the country.  We’re fortunate to be a part of it.

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