Grandfather Tree

Now having come to understand that we are all spiritual beings who have chosen to temporarily live a physical existence on this planet, certain musings are inevitable, and shared here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Boy Scouts

A good friend of mine, Mike, died about four years ago. A few years before that, I was really into the “Mytho-Poetic Men’s Movement” influenced by men like Robert Bly and Michael Meade. So I helped organized a Men’s Group at our church and as one of our projects, we decided to make a drum. We bought a freshly butchered bull buffalo hide and spent a couple of weeks stripping it and turning it into raw hide. I got a hold of a hollowed out cottonwood tree truck from another friend for the base of the drum. Mike was with me every step of the way in this process. I was passionate and excited about it. Stripping a buffalo hide is hard work, and there were frustrations along the way, but I was having great fun. At one point I noted this and expected Mike to admit to also having great fun. He told me that he really had little interest in the project and in fact didn’t really want to do it. I was very surprised and questioned him about it. He explained that he frequently does things that he doesn’t want to do in order to experience these things, especially if someone he cares about is so obviously interested in it.

Well, Mike I am trying to follow your example in going to Boy Scout functions with my son. Today I went to a Court of Honor where the boys are honored with merit badges and such. We met at a beautiful park, and shared a pot luck meal. I really struggle with the rituals which are so nationalistic: the flag ceremony, the pledge of allegiance, the scout promise and law. I looked around me and noticed that the parents seem to be into it, the boys a little less so, but it was so difficult for me to find life energy in it. For me, the energy is so old and crusted over with meaningless chatter. At one point one group of scouts sang a song about crushing a little bird’s head with some kind of refrain about how this is what happens if a bird starts messing with them. I heard one of the parents remark with a laugh, “Isn’t that just like boy scouts!”

Is it that I am too soft and just can’t find the humor in this “harmless boys will be boys routine” or is this some kind of pre-boot camp training? I have always thought of the scouts as a kind of para-military outfit. I guess we have to start young if we want them to invade and occupy other countries without questioning the morals of such. One of the refrains in the Boy Scout promise or perhaps the Boy Scout law is to “help other people at all times.” I don’t understand how these inconsistencies can be so obvious and disturbing to me, but all those around me seem to be fine with all this, and would probably think me a kind of weirdo if I were to try to offer any argument or even ask questions.

One of the primary emphases of the scouts appears to be individual achievement. The boys get award for anything and everything. Yes, they do work hard for these achievements. There are numerous requirements for each award they receive. I guess it does help to teach them to take responsibility for themselves with persistence and determination. But there is something disquieting about all those awards for me. Some of the scouts have so many badges and awards that not only is their uniform full, their sash is packed as well. Fortunately they do not allow any of the Cub Scout awards to be put on the Boy Scout uniform (with the exception of the Arrow of Light) or they would have to have additional sashes and belts or something.

I keep looking for some glimmer of this “Arrow of Light” among the ceremonies and the activities of the scouts, but I have come home empty-handed so far. Sorry Mike, I have been trying, and I will keep going to these events for my son who for some reason has stuck with the scouts, but I am less and less hopeful in finding any energy that I will be able to connect with in these activities. I used to be angry about it, but mostly tried to hide it from my son. Now the anger has subsided and I am more curious, but obviously very judgmental as well. I am trying to use clear discernment, and I can easily say that these activities do not connect with my heart, but my challenge is to be there without judgment, because these activities clearly offer something of value to the many people who participate and volunteer their time to be involved with my son and other boys. So I guess it is good practice for me to continue to work towards finding a place of non-judgment in these activities.


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