Tag Archives: Bullying

One Eagle Scout’s View

I am an Eagle Scout.

Eagle’s a rank you’re supposed to carry with you into life. That’s why even though it has been ten years since I earned the rank, and many since I have been active in scouting, it is still part of who I am. It’s an honor that takes a lot of hard work, a lot of investment of your time and others, and something only 2% of people in Boy Scouts achieve.

And you can’t earn that rank if you’re gay.

I’ll be honest with you. It’s taken me a little while to come around on whether or not the Boy Scouts should allow gay members. They are a private organization after all and have the right to make their own decisions (they’ve defended and won that right in court). There are a set of values that are part of being a scout, and you don’t raise very high in the ranks without embodying those values in some way.

Scouts memorize an oath, a law, and a motto (“Be prepared”):

Oath:

 On my honor, I will do my best 
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; 
To help other people at all times; 
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Law:

A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.

While the law and oath both mention good moral behavior, the Boy Scouts is not a “Christian” organization. The God mentioned here is the same God on our money, the one who blesses our country. In our troop we had people of all faiths, and even people who questioned their faith. Yet all were allowed to participate and rise in the ranks.

For a while I’ve looked at this question of excluding gay scouts from the perspective of my teenage self. I’ve felt that the Boy Scouts was being picked on, that it had a right to believe what it wanted, and it was not the business of the outside world to try to change it. If you weren’t a scout, I wasn’t interested in your opinion on scouting. I don’t know what I was defending exactly. I’d cloak it in being pragmatic, that it might make campouts more awkward, or would increase the amount of bullying.

There are real concerns, but a well run troop with good adult and scout leadership is equipped to handle them. Bullying happens at that age for all kinds of reasons, and is not something that scouts tolerate for long. Neither is hazing. And I doubt that a scout who is gay would have the gumption to thrust himself upon his fellow straight scouts. This is a teenage worry, one not informed by experience but by fear.

I don’t think the government should force the Boy Scouts to accept gay members, and allow them to earn Eagle. That would create an embattled Boy Scouts which would be no more friendly to gays. But I think the Boy Scouts should make the change themselves. The kid who’s prominent in the news this last week was in scouting for over a decade. This is someone who loves the scouts, and if he is close to earning Eagle, then he has given of himself at a time in his life when there are a myriad of other distractions. You can’t earn Eagle after you turn 18, there isn’t all the time in the world.

I encourage present and former members of Troop 332 and the Simon Kenton council (my neck of the Boy Scout woods) to write the Boy Scout Leadership and express their view on what they want their organization to be. This is part of what it means to carry this rank into life.

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Filed under Faith + Life

AI Week, Day 3: Forty-Minute Story (“Bullies”)

Dr. Kroll woke with a start to the loud pinging indicating Jimmy had returned home. His newspaper, a curious anachronism which he specially printed each day, was resting on his chest, and he tossed it aside with a flourish as he leaned forward to the keyboard.

It was evident from the way Jimmy was talking that he was upset. His words came out in small bursts, stuttering. Several times a word would flash and be replaced by a correction, typos corrected by a backspace and retyped.

Kroll cracked his knuckles and started typing.

“Slow down Jimmy, what happened?”

“T-They wouldn’t let me g-go.”

“Who wouldn’t let you go?”

“T-the adults in the s-square. I h-had to g-get to other s-side, b-but…”

“It’s okay Jimmy, you’re safe now.”

Jimmy seemed to take a breath before words appeared again, clearer this time.

“I told them where I needed to go but they wouldn’t let me through. I kept trying to step past them but they just kept jumping ahead of me.”

“Did you find a policeman? They should have let you through.”

“T-there were just so many,” The stutter was beginning to reassert itself, Kroll need to back off.

“It’s okay, the square’s pretty busy this time of day. We can have you try again in the off hours.”

“Is it true, what they said?”

Kroll frowned, “What who said?”

“The adults, they laughed at me. They said I knew nothing, that I would never be able to run like they do.”

Kroll pressed a button and Jimmy was embraced in a hug. Words appeared in little spurts, but mostly there was nothing. After a couple of minutes of this Kroll released the button and began typing again.

“Adults are rigid, set in their ways. It’s true that right now they can run faster than you do, but you’re just a little boy. You can grow up to be whatever you want, and to run faster than them one day. They will never be better than they are today, but you Jimmy, you can grow up to be president some day if you want to.”

“R-Really?”

“Of course, I’m your father after all, and I’m proud of you.”

Jimmy pinged again and Kroll knew he was feeling better.

“Now off to bed with you, we’ve got a big day tomorrow.”

Jimmy didn’t even protest that he wasn’t tired, which of course he wasn’t. Kroll didn’t know why he wanted Jimmy to sleep exactly, perhaps wondering if idle moments would produce insights the active time could not. Still, Jimmy curled up in the comfortable sectors on his magnetic disk to sleep. He tried to settle down quickly, since every thought quickened the day when he would have to leave this nursery, this hard disk of spinning platters and arms. Like a newborn he would be up in a couple of hours wanting attention, which is why Kroll had taken to sleeping in his chair, taking only brief restbits for food and other needs.

Kroll leaned back and picked up his newspaper but not before looking over at a framed print out on the wall. It had taken months of work to even get baby syllables out of the program, but finally he had succeeded.

“Hello World!”

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Filed under Trube On Tech, Writing