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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments specific to the subject at hand. Requests for additional topics can be emailed to