Thursday, June 28, 2012


Loyal:  adj.  : Unswerving in allegiance: as a : faithful in allegiance to one's lawful sovereign or government b : faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product 

A Scout is loyal is the second point of the Scout Law.  The word is reputed to have first been used in 1531 and was defined by Baden Powell in the following manner: A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.

I am going to address loyalty in two venues, loyalty to family and individuals and loyalty to country.

The practical


In my previous essay on “Trustworthy” I used marriage vows as an example.  This also applies to loyalty.  My wife Tracy knows that I am absolutely loyal to her.  In Baden-Powell’s terms I will stick to her through thick and thin, against anyone who even talks badly of her, to include myself.  Yes that’s right, myself.  When I find myself angered or speaking ill of my wife, usually in my head, I remind myself that I am, above all, loyal to her, to the oath of marriage I took, and to the promise of our growing old together.  This debate in my head between anger or frustration, and loyalty usually resolves quickly and quietly.  However in other relationships my loyalty though professed, and held deep down, is often a strain to my personal moral and ethical breaking point and I vent.  It is not loyal to speak ill of your family members regardless of your feelings on specific issues or their lives in general.  Further it is not a very Christian attitude.  For these reasons it is unhealthy and can only serve to deepen your personal angst.  I have often told my children at the dinner table not to gossip, or speak in a negative manner about someone both because it is hurtful to that individual and harmful to the one whom so speaks.  Family can be contentious, but family is love and love is the ultimate loyalty.  Loyalty must overcome petty differences and major ones but loyalty is always about being truthful most especially in those things you know to be most important.  Reciprocal loyalty is being open minded and accepting of the well intentioned and loyal openness of a loved one. 

My kids are still developing their loyalties.  At one time I was a single dad with three children.  In part due to that experience my oldest three children are very loyal to me on a fundamental level.  But more superficially but not diminished in importance is their demonstrated loyalty on a day by day basis.  This is proven out in their day to day behavior.  All in all my children, all six, are very loyal to the family.  A family night, game, or movie wins out 99% of the time in a conflict with an event with friends.  They complete their chores, with some reminders and a minimum of fuss, and this is a demonstration of loyalty.  They fulfill their obligations to those individuals, institutions, and entities they have made commitments to time and time again.  All of this demonstrates a well learned, not innate, since of loyalty. 
Loyalty is learned.  It must be taught in the home and it must be grounded in the faith and principles of the parents or those that run the household.  Loyalty is also taught in organizations like the Cub and Boy Scouts but is worthless without reinforcement from those that love and care for the student.  When taught, loyalty must first be addressed as a mind set, a principle that is not specific to a subject.  Loyalty is not blind, so must be taught allowing for logical consideration of position.  Once professed loyalty must be tenacious and a decision to remove or change loyalties should be onerous.  True loyalty is difficult but imminently satisfying.

The Political

This past weekend I had the opportunity to reflect on matters of national loyalty.  I am a re-enactor focused on the Civil War period.  This is a rather new hobby for me but one that I have embraced whole heartedly.  I am joined in this activity by my father who recruited me, my seventeen year old son Kris, my almost ten year old son Zach – the company drummer boy, and my eighteen and twenty year old daughters Tori and Beth.  You have to experience this to really appreciate it.  There is nothing like sitting around a fire out under the stars in the midst of an 1860’s era military encampment singing period songs accompanied by banjo, guitar, fiddle, drums, washboard, bones, spoons and a baritone horn.  Time halts in 1862 for a few days.  There is no light pollution as the camp it lit by campfire, and candle and oil lanterns close to the ground to illuminate company streets.  No cars, iPods or Coleman lanterns to break the reverie.  “We’ll rally round the flag boys we’ll rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom”
As I am sitting quietly by the fire smoking some pipe tobacco, an indulgence I allow myself once a month at these events, I had the time to reflect on what it would take to cause me to turn my back on my country in favor of some higher calling or truth.  This past weekend I camped as a member of the 4th Alabama Volunteer infantry.  Times were different back then, politically speaking, right? 

Many people are not aware that the members of the US Senate were appointed by their State legislatures prior to 1914.  The 17th amendment to the US Constitution provided for the direct popular election of members of the senate.  Senators were originally appointed because one of their primary functions was to represent the government of the States they served.  Strong state government was a foundational principle during the creation of the United States.  Dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation that were placed into effect in 1781 led to the 1787 convention in Philadelphia. Every State with the exception of Rhode Island sent delegates to that convention. 

The fundamental problem that had to be dealt with at the convention was the split between the states that favored a strong federal government and those that preferred the strong state governments provided for by the Articles of Confederation.  Within this debate as a major difference in opinion in how the States would be represented.  The division was between the “large state” Virginia or Randolph plan, and the “small state” New Jersey or Patterson plan.  In the end, a compromise, the Connecticut plan also referred to as the Great Compromise called for a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house and equal representation in the upper house.  This settlement still did not assuage detractors to the drafted constitution. George Mason, a Virginian, opposed the ratification of the constitution because it contained no guarantees of individual rights.  This debate led to the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.  The ratification fight also led to the famous Federalist papers authored by Hamilton, Madison and Jay, the historical and legal impact of which to this day effect our country. 
Against this backdrop started the age old argument still fought today, that of the amount of power of the Federal Government.  The Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson fought the Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton.  Before you start to compare Jefferson to modern republicans you should know that the parties were alike in name only.

The Federalist Party was formed during the Washington Presidency by a network of Hamilton supporters, largely urban bankers and businessmen, to support his fiscal policies. These supporters grew into the Federalist Party committed to a fiscally sound and nationalistic government.  By comparison the Republican Party often referred to by modern historians as the Democratic-Republican Party felt the fiscal policies of the federalists, especially establishment of a national back would lead back to a monarchy.  Federalists favored strong states rights and the primacy [more important] rights of the Yeoman farmers [family or sustenance farmers]. 

Enough history you say.  The old adage that those that ignore history are bound to repeat it is time tested.  Things have not changed all that much.  More than two hundred years ago we had one party that favored a strong federal government that would take care of everything, and another party that essentially wanted the common man to be left alone with some of his needs addressed by state government. It is as true then as it is today.  We fought two wars over this, the revolution to throw off the yoke of an all powerful government and the civil war which would set our future course.  In my lifetime only one president has espoused strong states and smaller federal government in a meaningful way.  Ronald Reagan said “the beauty of our system is you can vote with your feet” meaning if you did not like the laws in one state you could move to another. I really think that voting with your feet is a special ability that you could only find in a country like ours with sufficient size and diversity.  But when the federal government increasingly standardizes everything overruling the laws put into place by voters in individual states we lose that ability.  This is a trend I have seen over the last twenty years, one that strains and makes me examine my inner loyalties.

Once upon a time I swore to follow a code that in part stated “I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”  I also took an oath stating “I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

So I return to try to answer the original question, reframed in light of the oaths of Loyalty I took as a soldier.  Is there a point where being prepared to give my life in defense of my country and our way of life conflict with obeying the orders of the president?  The oath of enlistment which has had only one revision, in the 1960’s, since its inception in 1789 places defending the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic before following the orders of the President and Senior officers.  This is by design not accident.  It is easy to see, especially when supported by large numbers of people regionally, how opinion and interpretation of “way of life” and “defending the Constitution” could cause fission of loyalty.  Did Robert E. Lee see things that way?

It is no secret that I am not a fan of the current administration.  I do not feel that the Obama administration is the root of all evil, nor do I place 100% of all of the blame on his administration for all of the troubles we face as a country.  I will leave statements containing absolutes to partisan politics.  I do feel that the revival promised on the campaign trail has failed and that the man, not the office, has failed to live up to the standard of Trustworthy as defined in my previous essay.  Economically things will get much, much, worse before they ever get better.  The trillion dollar shopping spree did not deliver the expected or promised results.  You wonder why my family started a small farm (see yeomen farming)?  Still I live in the greatest country in the world and I am not ready to “vote with my feet” top Canada, not that they would have me, or “with a plane ticket”, to anywhere else. 

Will things change?  Has it gone too far already and what could be next?  I am increasingly frustrated at concessions made to minority groups that fly in the face of the opinion of the majority.  Before you start to gather wood to burn me at the stake I am not speaking of equal rights.  Equal rights was the most important concept in our countries development since our country was conceived.  I am speaking about “special rights”, when the pendulum swings to the other side.  When equal rights become special rights we are no longer equal and the discrimination becomes a scourge of the majority and loyalties are questioned.

Allow me to give you an example, prayer in a public place.  When I was a child in school we said the pledge of allegiance sang “my Country Tis of Thee” and had moment of silence where most of us bowed our head in prayer.  Over the years that moment of silence has gone away as a small minority somehow takes offense to the prayerful actions of others.  Christian youth groups have been told they cannot meet in public schools, invocations and benedictions of even the most Universalist types fade away.  Why, because some parent does not want their child to be influenced by other children who believe in God and they have taken it to court and won on the basis of separation of Church and State, another essays topic.  So thousands must alter their daily life and belief to avoid offending the sensibilities of one or two?  This is a philosophical question around which we must someday come to grips.  Where is the line drawn?  Unfortunately it is not as simple as Star Treks Vulcan proverb “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one”, nor should it be.

With health care it always has been a matter of voting with my feet.  Of course I live in Massachusetts so when mandatory health care was passed I did have to weigh what was most important to me, remaining on the family homestead to raise a sixth generation, or moving someplace where health care was not mandatory or regulated.  I stayed but took solace in the fact that I could leave if I felt so strongly about the issue.  Along comes Obama-Care and today’s decision by the Supreme Court that the law is not unconstitutional.  My foot vote is gone and that bothers me far more than the law itself.  It is still not sufficient to cause me to turn from my country, my loyalty is intact.   

Monday, June 25, 2012



Trustworthy: adj.  Worthy of Confidence, Dependable 

A Scout is Trustworthy is the first point of the Scout Law.  The word is reputed to have first been used in 1714.  The root of trustworthy is trust.  Trust is related the Old English word treowian "to believe” dating back several more centuries.  Belief is the cornerstone of trust and our current lack of belief in anything but ourselves is the force that is eroding it. 

A January ABC News poll asked the decades old poll question; “do you trust your government is doing the right thing”.  The response was a pitifully low number.  The analyst reported that it really was not a decrease in how many Americans trusted the government rather the perspective upon which they based that trust.  His premise was based on a trend showing that Americans trusted the government to do the right thing with regards to National Security with a far low percentage trusting that the government will do the right thing with regards to social issues.  I believe it is even simpler; no one keeps their word anymore. 
There is an old saying that a man’s word is his bond.   Agreements of all sorts were sealed with a handshake, oaths were taken seriously, and swearing on the bible was not a traditional ceremony but a statement that you were willing to risk the wrath of God himself should you break your oath.  Baden Powel wrote of the first point of the Scout law;

A SCOUT'S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED.   If a scout says "On my honour it is so," that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, "I trust you on your honour to do this," the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.

Can you imagine a time where breaking your word would mean you would resign your post never to return.  How many former politicians can refer to that claim?  How many of the promises we hear today out of Washington are in fact superficial hyperbole.  One of the platforms on which our current President was elected to office was an increase in transparency in government.  In my humble opinion most people on hearing that would think the Government was going to be more honest, that they would improve on basic accountability and honor more freedom of information act requests.  As it turns out this is not the case.  This administrations definition of transparency is to make more data available to the general public. The cornerstone of this transparency initiative is  On you can find out how many earthquakes occurred worldwide in the last seven days, or what banks are on the FDIC failed bank list, or that most critical issue of transparency – Geo location data on farmers markets.  What about accountability, how about the release of documents to those seeking accountability?  Politico an American political journalism organization based in Arlington Virginia quoted long time Washington attorney Katherine Meyer as saying that the Obama administration was “the worst on FOIA issues since the law was passed during the Johnson administration”. (Marks, 2012)  Least I be accused of hypocrisy you should know that Politico has been accused by Media Matters as being “right leaning” but it is easy for you to look up this information on your own.    Further, as the Chief Executive of the United States I would expect the President to stand for accountability throughout government pushing all agencies and working equally as hard to hold both sides of the aisle in the legislative branch to a higher level of accountability to the American People.  Unfortunately this just does not appear to be the case, nor has it been the case in previous administrations Republican or Democrat for a very long time. 

There is a good chance that you may choose not to trust everything that I have written so far especially as I have cited several media sources.  “The credibility of mainstream media, including television, newspapers, and radio, continues to wane. In the U.S., the credibility of television news dropped 23 points in just two years (from 43 points in 2008 to 20 points in 2010). The credibility of radio news and newspapers fell 20 points over that period” (Stein, 2010)  A Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index published in May of this year shows that only 22% of Americans trust the nation’s financial system.  The National Journal printed a graphic representation of the results of a Gallop Poll showing that our trust in everything, from big business with a 1% drop to banks with a 23% drop, has decreased.  The few rays of hope were increases in the criminal justice system up 1% to churches and religious institutions with a 3% increase, and HMO’s leading the pack at 6%.  Why HMO’s can have a bigger increase than Churches is a topic all its own.
Lack of trustworthiness is not a condition unique to our government or our institutions.  We should take an honest look inward and ask if we are any different than those elected officials we casually vilify.  How many people feel that not being totally honest with the IRS is ok?  Is taking a sick day when you are not sick trustworthy?  How about extending a lunch break a few minutes because you already work hard enough?  A 2010 CBS Poll reported more than 63% of Americans knew someone who cheated on their spouse (CBS News, 2010) and the US divorce rate is well over 30%.  It appears the words; “from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness,” just do not constitute a solemn promise anymore. 
So where has all of our trust gone.  With many of our institutions found demonstrably untrustworthy comes a sense of despair from our moral center.  We also succumb, sometimes unconsciously to the institutional trend and start to display untrustworthy traits in ourselves.  This combination can lead to a sense of apathy about the situation and a downward spiral of our social and moral character.  This is a self perpetuating cycle.  Some people will tell you that you do not have to have religion to live a moral life or teach moral values.  That is a topic to be argued in another post so please at least accept the premise that it certainly does not hurt.   In America today 83% of Americans identify themselves with a denomination but only 40% attend weekly services. (Putnam & Campbell, 2010)  To me this seems like 83% of Americans have bought an insurance premium that has a “fitness program” but less than half are willing to pay the premium or use the free health club membership.  This does not do them any good now and certainly will be a lot worse when the time comes to collect on the policy.  For those that know me I know that you are thinking that this pretty general, almost secular example.  You are right.  Moving on though, Gallop has been asking this question since the late 1930s.   As it turns out the percentage of Americans who identify with a Christian Religion is down.  This is not because more Americans choose to belong to other than Christian religions but because more Americans do not choose to associate with any religion what so ever.  Further the number of Americans that do identify with a religion that actually go to church is down significantly over the years.  From the forties to the sixties more than 70% of Americans went to church.  This was a time of trust in government, in each other.  That number dropped in the late sixties and early seventies which [coincidently] coincided with a drop in trust in our government and a more liberal societal movement.  I wonder if a Nation that decreasingly is unable to place its trust in God is unable to place its trust in anything at all.

Can we as a people ever trust again?  I think that we can indeed.  Today our society is geared to “what have you done for me lately”.  Instant gratification is the rule of the day and the focus is on the material things rather than the moral elements.  It is hard to trust the Joneses if you are working so hard to get ahead of them all of the time.  The principle is actually pretty simple; we even teach it to Cub Scouts.  “Do Your Best” in all aspects of your life to include your relationships.  Do not expect miracles out of your leaders or members of your family but instead expect that they Do Their Best and prove it by opening themselves up to be accountable.  Admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness.  Hold yourself to your word and set an example.  Do onto others as you would have them do onto you is not a quaint archaism, it’s a life style. 

Works Cited

CBS News. (2010, Jan 1). Poll: 63% Know Spouse Who Cheated. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from

Marks, J. (2012, June). The Truth Behind Transparency. Government Executive , p. 21.

Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. E. (2010). American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. In R. D. Putnam, & D. E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (p. ch 1 at note 5). New York, New York, USA: Simon and Schuseter.

Stein, L. (2010, February 12). Where Has All The Trust Gone? Retrieved June 24, 2012, from Blogs:

Search Description
An essay on what it means to trust and our nations current lack of trust in anything but ourselves. The essay asks the questions, where has all the trust gone, and can we trust again.  It closes with a reiteration of a basic Scouting premise, Do Your Best.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Twelve points to live by: Part one - Introduction

A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Curious, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave Clean and Reverent.   

The Scout Law offers up twelve points for a boy growing into a young man to live up to.  It establishes a high standard, one that each Scout should strive to.  Not surprisingly the twelve points are an excellent guide for non scouts and adults seeking to buck the current societal trends for a more traditional outlook on life.  Really this is just getting back to basics expounding on the “golden rule”.  The Scout Law is not influenced by any specific religion or denomination, nor is it secular as evidenced by its twelfth and final point.  It is free of political persuasion and is equally applicable to men and women, boys and girls.  As this blog is supposed to combine life and lessons learned from scouting I thought it appropriate to do a short series on the twelve points of the Boy Scout Law.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the context, history, or even the law itself, this post is offered up as a tutorial

Rather than paraphrase and summarize the history of the Boy Scout Law I am re-posting the history from  [retrieved 6-16-12] which is both complete and concisely written.
“When writing Scouting for Boys, General Baden-Powell drew inspiration from the work of Ernest Thompson Seton, who founded the Woodcraft Indians in 1902 and later became instrumental in spreading Scouting throughout North America. Baden-Powell also drew inspiration for the Scout Law from the Bushido code of the Japanese Samurai, laws of honor of the American Indians, the code of chivalry of European knights, and the Zulu fighters he had fought against.[1] Like Seton, Baden-Powell chose to use a set of affirmative laws, in contrast to Old Testament-like prohibitions.[2]
The original Scout law appeared with the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908 and is as follows (sic, capitalization, numbering, etc. by Baden-Powell): [3][4][5]
1.   A SCOUT'S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a scout says "On my honour it is so," that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, "I trust you on your honour to do this," the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.
2.  A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.
3.  A SCOUT'S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, "Which is my duty?" that is, "Which is best for other people?"---and do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save life, or to help injured persons. And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.
4.  A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL, AND A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, NO MATTER TO WHAT SOCIAL CLASS THE OTHER BELONGS. If a scout meets another scout, even though a stranger to him, he must speak to him, and help him in any way that he can, either to carry out the duty he is then doing, or by giving him food, or, as far as possible, anything that he may be in want of. A scout must never be a SNOB. A snob is one who looks down upon another because he is poorer, or who is poor and resents another because he is rich. A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him -- "Kim," the boy scout, was called by the Indians "Little friend of all the world," and that is the name which every scout should earn for himself.
5.  A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS: That is, he is polite to all—but especially to women and children and old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.
6.  A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. He should save them as far as possible from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly---for it is one of God's creatures.
7.  A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS of his patrol-leader, or scout master without question. Even if he gets an order he does not like, he must do as soldiers and sailors do, he must carry it out all the same because it is his duty; and after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.
8.  A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train, or some one treads on your favourite corn---not that a scout ought to have such things as corns--- or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same. The punishment for swearing or bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender's sleeve by the other scouts.
9.  A SCOUT IS THRIFTY, that is, he saves every penny he can, and puts it in the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.
These were written for the Scouts in the whole world, yet of course firstly focused on Scouting in the United Kingdom. As other groups started up Scouting organizations (often in other countries), each modified the laws, for instance 'loyal to the King' would be replaced by the equivalent text appropriate for each country
During the years, Baden-Powell himself edited the text numerous times, notably in 1911 adding:
A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED. Decent Scouts look down upon silly youths who talk dirt, and they do not let themselves give way to temptation, either to talk it or to do anything dirty. A Scout is pure, and clean-minded, and manly.”
As we explore the twelve points of the modern American version of the scout law in upcoming posts I will refer back to the original.  Some of the examples may not apply to modern life but the basic precepts are timeless. 

1.   ^ Rosenthal, Michael (1986). Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement. London: Collins. p. 111.
 2.  ^ Baden-Powell, Robert (2005). Scouting for Boys. Oxford. p. 361.
 3.  ^ Baden-Powell, C.B., F.R.G.S., Lieut.-General R. S. S. (1908). Scouting for Boys (Part I ed.). Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, London E.C.: Horace Cox. p. 49.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Introduction

Truth be told I wrote this introduction on January 24th 2009.  Why wait so long to finally publish it you ask?  I have always had a desire to run for public office.  My sister Heather, for whom I have great respect, read this introduction and another essay I had written on religion and cautioned me against publishing them.  She reminded me that anything I published in a blog would be on the internet forever.  She also pointed out that the media was famous for paraphrasing and taking snippets of material out of context as would any future, (someday if I ever got off my butt), opponent in an election.  Finally she pointed out that some of my views would not find favor with some percentage of voters and this would outweigh all of the positive views that I have.  This was also a veiled compliment as I am the staunch conservative counter to my own darling Hollywood elite screaming liberal.  I may have exaggerated that last part just a bit.

All Heathers points were very good ones so I slept on it, for three and a half years.  Below is my blogs introduction.  Love you Heather.

I have asked myself why anyone would, once having decided to put his thoughts to media, place them into this relatively new format referred to as a Blog. Here I am having just completed my very first sentence and already I am having difficulty. Note the word media. As I composed that sentence I was thinking putting pen to paper, a journal, chronicling my life and opinions, all terms to me that portray warmth.  Media is cold, calculating, electronic and sterile. Is this a statement of fact or the vestiges of outdated opinion as expressed by a forty five year old member of a bridge generation?

William Cobbett (1763-1835) famously stated that "Tyranny has no enemy so formidable as the pen". Shall we now assign the same credence to the keyboard, or admit in fact that the keyboard may be even mightier than the pen ever aspired to be. I find typing much easier and faster than writing in longhand hence my predisposition to begin to stray from my original thoughts and move off on a tangent. You might say I have writers ADD. That being said, allow me to return to the proposition with which I opened this paragraph which is why post my personal thoughts for the world to see. To understand the answer to that I think it is necessary to understand in a clearer fashion just who I am and for that you will have to continue to read my essays, i.e. Blogs.

Just for the record I understand that everything that I write in this format is here for the world to see. That does not mean that I am relinquishing ownership over this collection of words only that I accept responsibility for any repercussions that may arise as a result of them. I am no William Cobbett, or Thomas Paine. Nor do I dare put myself anywhere near the category or caliber of the men I strongly admire, not necessarily pamphleteers like Cobbett or Paine, but men like Adams, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Regan. Despite this self imposed limitation I do feel the draw of public service. At some point in time I will succumb and run for public office. I strongly believe that no individual has the right to voice dissent unless they willing to back their words with corrective actions. For me personally, accounting for this point in history, the appropriate arena for action is within the halls of Government.

So I have admitted a desire for public office. I feel the hallmark of one who will lead is truth, something that is markedly lacking in 21st century politics, and has been for some time. Truth as I see it, or express it, may result in new friends or new enemies but the requirement for its disclosure is no less captious. So in the essays that will follow over time you will see my true opinion, and it likely be able to discern my true position which I will make it as clear as I am able. Be mindful that putting my thoughts and opinions into prose does not guarantee that I will never change my mind. My detractors, if I have any now or in the future, will surely say AHHH here he sets the ground for retraction or mmmm Flip Flopping? No, I set the ground work for being human. I love a good debate and I have been known to change my mind so bring it on.

Many of these essays will just be stories but ones I feel represent who I am and how I live. This is also an effort to put down my thoughts, to allow me to contemplate my own words and actions and the results they have garnered both intentionally and unintentionally. I hope this collection will become an adequate summary of my life for my Children, and God willing Grandchildren to see someday. You may find humor here, you may find pain, you will always find honesty, no exaggeration, as plain as I can make it. To my friends and family; my intent is authentic and unadulterated and I apologize for any inadvertent embarrassment, or God forbid pain, my words may cause you. I hope you find the reading of this as enjoyable as I find the writing and in the words you find something new in me that will strengthen our relationship.

Friday, June 8, 2012

When the level of maturity of an Eagle Candidate reflects negatively in his project application….

I recently had the opportunity to review three Eagle Service Projects back to back. Although I think I know better I was a bit surprised when I was able to put them in chronological order by the age of the boy. As it turns out one was written by a fourteen year old, one by a boy nearly sixteen, and the last by a seventeen year old young man. In return correspondence to all three Scouts I write that I found the projects to both meet both the “requirements and expectations for community service at the level of an Eagle Scout Candidate”, a statement I am comfortable with. However, the actual presentation of each of the three applications was dramatically different. Not to say that every sixteen year old, for example, has the same level of maturity and skill in expressing a concept in the written form, but you could tell who was 14 and who was 17. What constituted a complete sentence for the fourteen year old was light years from the material presented by the seventeen year old.

I am not necessarily the most eloquent writer myself, and have been told I should be grateful for both MS Word spelling and grammar checking, but I think my recent review brings to light an interesting question. Is a boy who is working at or below an eighth grade English composition level really ready to be an Eagle Scout? I know that we have allowances for those young men who are “challenged”. This is not what I am talking about. I think it is reasonable to expect a certain level of proficiency in communicating idea’s, plans, and strategies with regards to ones Eagle Project. After all this is part of the learning process, is it not. So where do we draw the line. I know the age at which a young man should be considered for Eagle is often a matter of debate in scouting forums.  Let’s try to refrain from any arguments that are solely based on age. We are all likely to agree that there are always expectations to the rule. I also am quite aware of the specific evaluative criteria for an Eagle Service Project so we can also avoid that path. I would like feedback with regard to applying more subjective criteria to evaluating the written proposal, perhaps taking into account a follow-up conversation with the Scout. Can we answer the question; [when] should the evaluator state in good conscience, your project is good but I think you need another year before you consider implementing it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Events in Ashburnham serve to remind us of our responsibilities

By now many of you have seen print and television news reporting that the longtime Scoutmaster of Troop 18 in Ashburnham was arrested on child pornography charges.  You have doubtless noticed that the majority of the coverage is not focused on the accused but on the fact that he was a adult volunteer with the Boy Scouts.  Until convicted all acquisitions are just that, accusations, and as such do not deserve uninformed speculation or gossip.  The focus of this email is on the situation as it impacts the Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs and your children.

You are all aware that I am constantly requesting increasing levels of participation from our parents.  One of the primary reasons is for the ongoing protection of our children.  The BSA requires a minimum of two deep leadership at all times, registered adult volunteer take the Youth Protection Training, and all such volunteers undergo a CORI check as required by Massachusetts State Law.  A CORI check is when an employer or organization requests of the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board a copy of an individuals criminal record.  Having a CORI check done does not guarantee that every person that may pose risk to a child will be screened out.  This is why we have two deep leadership and why all of our adult volunteers are trained in youth protection.  Our youth protection program covers youth protection policies, kinds of abuse, signs of abuse, how to respond to disclosure of abuse, and proper reporting procedures. It does so by taking you through situations that require choices and produce consequences. Successful completion of this course requires an 80 percent or higher score.  This program helps protect our children and helps protect our leaders.  Dad's, next time I ask you to stand inside the bathroom with me, another leader, or another father to "supervise hand washing" until every boy has left the bathroom you will understand the true meaning of my request.

Every Den meeting has multiple adults and my constant nagging for assistants is not just to ease the programming responsibilities of the Den Leaders.  Pack Meetings are covered even deeper by adult volunteers and parents.  Youth protection is also one of the reasons we encourage full family participation in our monthly meetings and trips.  I am approaching 40 years of scouting but I have also been a father for twenty years with six children from four months to twenty years old.  As you know young boys, and girls for that matter can be pretty high maintenance. Tying shoes, wiping noses, drying tears, picking up a fallen child, tucking in a shirt, holding a Tiger up to the sink to wash his hands or to the water fountain to take a drink are all things we as parents do instinctively.  Unfortunately in this day and age they are also things that could be misconstrued. This is why we insist on two deep leadership. Our youth protection program is designed to protect youth and adults. 

For those parents who have Webelos moving up to Boy Scouts please feel confident that my colleagues in Troop 33 take youth protection as seriously as I do.  If you have occasion to visit a troop meeting you will notice adults everywhere.  Boy Scouts is a youth run program but you will always see the adult leaders actively observing from the sidelines.  Like the Cub Scouts the Boy Scout youth will always move in two's in an enforced buddy system and even small patrol meetings will have two deep adult leadership in place. 

The events in Ashburnham yesterday will cast a pall over the BSA for a short time.  Detractors will use this incident to levy accusations that the BSA is a haven for those tending towards nefarious behavior.  This is not true.  Any organization that has millions of members will unfortunately have its share of bad apples.  We, the leaders and parents of scouting in Westminster, will use this incident as a reminder of our responsibilities to our children and our charges and the vigilance they deserve.   When we march in the Memorial Day parade Monday we will do so with pride and confidence in the Scouting program in Westminster.  And when I ask for the Popsicle stick with your child's name on it before I release them to parent, grandparent, or loved one you will understand why the Cubmaster has all these pain in the butt rules.

I remain ever in Scouting, in your service,