I was a VERY reluctant boy scout growing up. I actually hated going to boys scouts truth be told. My parents put me into "Beavers" and I hated it. I figured that every minute I spent in a goofy scouts uniform was a minute I wasn't playing baseball, so I pleaded to leave. They told me that I had to try one more year of "Cubs". I hated it so much I that I used to jump off my elevated deck to try and sprain an ankle or something so I didn't have to go. Suffice to say... it wasn't my thing.
Despite my stubborn boyhood experience with it... it's an excellent organization. The words of "The Scout Promise" have been ringing through my brain for weeks now. Before each meeting we had to stand, raise our right hand, and recite our pledge:
"I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and The Queen, to keep the laws of the Wolf Cub pack, and to do a good turn somebody everyday"
It's powerful actually. I remember vividly working with my Dad at committing this promise to memory as he went through what it meant to to have a life-duty to God and our Queen. I remember the charge I was being given to do something GOOD to someone each and every day. It felt like a high calling... even though I didn't much care for the goofy uniforms and having to care about woodworking.
Originally in 1908, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and accidental founder of the Scout Movement wrote it this way in "Scouting for Boys":
Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout's oath, thus:
On my honour I promise that---
- I will do my duty to God and the King.
- I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.
- I know the scout law, and will obey it.
He was the accidental leader of the scouting movement because all he really did was write a book based on values. Powell was inspired by a group of young boys who he saw serving and functioning at a high level during the 2nd Boer War and he began to write a handbook for good citizenship, on which men of strong character and impact could be grown. From there, 150 million copies have been sold since 1908 and scouting troupes of different cultural flavoring populate the globe. A powerful movement spawned by simply a foundation of GOOD and RIGHT.
Powell's last letter to the Boy Scouts said this:
"I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. Stick to your Scout Promise always — even after you have ceased to be a boy — and God help you to do it."
As we further escalate "The Kindness Project" in Brantford, one of the things we're likely to introduce is a "Kindness Commitment" that might sound quite reminiscent of The Scout Promise. We're going to propose that a CITY raise their right hand together (maybe metaphorically but hopefully in physically too) and pledge their commitment to active kindness. A citywide promise to value others higher than themselves... at least once a day as we re-learn how to live.
How that plays out in our real lives is up to us. I didn't personally care for the group camping & whittling scenarios that happens at boy scouts meetings in school gyms. But it doesn't matter! We all have our own contexts and areas of passion that are just WAITING to be transformed BY good INTO good through the kindness that we all have within to give.
This is a high calling and charge to mankind.