Are You Judgmental of Those Who Wear a Crucifix or a Cross, or Other Devotionals or Sacramentals?
Last night, my 16 year-old grandson was awarded the Boy Scout Honor Medal with Crossed Palms for saving his younger brother and himself from drowning in a sudden squall and rip current in the Pacific Ocean. The Boy Scouts of America gives this award only “in St Hubert Pendant exceptional cases to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save life at extreme risk to self.” Fewer than 300 of these medals have been awarded since the recognition was established in 1938.
My grandson has been a Boy Scout for 5 years, and has internalized Scouting’s “Be Prepared” motto. On that particular day in the Pacific, he understood the importance of remaining calm in an emergency. He knew how to approach and assist a drowning person. Most importantly, he lives the concept of service to others, a cornerstone of the Scout Oath,”… to help other people at all times.”
It could be argued that without his Boy Scout training my grandson may have displayed similar skill and courage in rescuing his brother. But Scouting’s positive influence cannot be denied in this near tragedy, or in the countless efforts of boys who strive to live up to the Scout Slogan, to “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Most of their acts of daily kindness, including some that may also be deserving of Scouting’s Honor Medal, go largely unrecognized.
Similar to other religious and civic organizations, the Boy Scouts of America has attracted depraved individuals who’ve preyed on their youth, and has been forced to wrestle with tough 21st Century social and moral issues, where public opinion is always divided and rancorous. Because Scouting’s local chartering organizations represent such a range of ethnic, political and religious diversity, finding acceptable solutions to those thorny issues is particularly challenging. And BSA’s responses to those obstacles, however well-intentioned, have often been ham-fisted or inconsistent.
Scouting’s visible and very real shortcomings, however, don’t justify the broad scale ridicule and disrespect the program has received over the past decade. The gradual demise of Scouting – validated by dramatic membership decline – is a loss for our nation, for our families and for our youth. There is no other institution serving American youth that for more than 100 years has combined training in practical skills, respect for the environment, teamwork, leadership and personal values. No sports team, marching band or school club even comes close.