Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Be Prepared...To Change

I read the story of the former Boy Scouts of America (BSA) official and his arrest for child pornography with great interest. Read the story as reported by the Associated Press.

I have always had big problems with the BSA, their structure and philosophy. I was a member of the Cub Scouts when I was in grade school. The Cub Scouts were great fun, my parents got involved and those were some great times. When I looked into the BSA, however, things seemed different. There seemed to be an agenda at work, even though I didn't know quite what it was at the time.

I think that the BSA is an antiquated, out-moded, nearly paramilitary group that inculcates boys with some valuable lessons but overall leaves them indoctrinated with values that I wouldn't want the youth of America to have.

First off, there is no role for women in the BSA. It is all guys. I have always disagreed with separation of the sexes in education or anything else involving youth and development. We live in a world where men and women live, work, recreate and everything else together. Women are over half of the population, but this organization can not seem to see that there could be a positive effect of exposing children to a strong, female role model. I guess that single mothers, tragically, have provided this for society. Any organization that feels the need to separate the sexes for anything apart from personal privacy (bathroom breaks, for example) needs to change. Let's get both boys and girls involved.

(They are also stridently anti-homosexual, but that is for another day and time).

Second, the overall philosophy of the BSA runs somewhere between a patriot militia and a jingoistic sect of an imagined frontier lifestyle that no longer exists. They seem to believe that spending a lot of time in forests, mountains, lakes and the like is properly viewed as an expression of patriotism and the rugged life that all people should lead. Are they serious? I have nothing wrong with getting out there from time to time and enjoying the sights. But putting on little uniforms, making our own shelter and pretending we are frontiersmen harkens back to Frederick Jackson Turner and the idea that the frontier is the ultimate expression of the American character. This idea, along with the BSA's ideas, are questionable at best.

Third, the moral and religious overtones. Shouldn't this be the concern of the parents and not some other wierdos from the community who have to pass no screening or present credentials to be around children. I guess that the least they could get away with is some wrong ideas to deal with. Well, the teen rebellion SHOULD take care of any of that.

Ultimately, can the BSA be saved? No, I believe that it cannot. It should wither and pass away like other facets of the "imagined community" of our past. It expresses a vision of America that is false and misleading. Taking the young and impressionable and exposing them to frontier/military/patriot/religious shock treatment is the surest way to make them hate everything you stand for. Children must be guided, but will ultimately choose their own path.

And Jeff or Dan, if you read this, this does not reflect on what I think of either of you. Just what I believe.

1 comment:

Emerson Dameron said...

I'm not particularly concerned about BSA's inevitable passing. I do think that someone needs to show young'uns why manners and endurance beat rudeness and whining. Methinks we're nearing a crisis situation there. Those who mourn BSA have a lack of imagination about how it could be handled.