As you know I am a sports fan, and because of the nature of my work (Yeah.. I need to work to fund my Scouting habit). I listen to Sports Talk radio.
This week we have been bombarded by the sports media on the subject of sensitivity regarding comments made by a reporter for the Golf Channel. You can read about here, I am not going to recap it for you.
But this got our local afternoon sports talk show talking about the responsibility of athletes and those in the public eye (actors and the like) to speak out on social issues.
They took a poll today asking the Portland audience what they thought as well as taking comments on the air.
Well this got me to thinking about the subject and of course how it can be applied or should be applied in a Scouting context.
So here is my 2 and 1/2 cents.
First- I do not think that those in public eye need to comment. For the most part I do not think actors and actresses and athletes are qualified to speak on behalf of a group of people. African American Basketball players are not a microcosm of the African American community and therefore do not have the expert training and development to force social change. They are entitled to their opinion and have the right to express it. But, because an athlete says it, does not make it the gospel truth. Same goes for actors. Brad Pitt is not the worlds premier expert on social issues. He has a platform from which he can speak that may not be made accessible to those of us not in the lime light, but I do not expect social change to start with him.
Second- The issue of race constantly is brought to the table. Yes the comment made by Kelly Tilghman was not appropriate, but now we are getting into the sensitivity issue.
Let me take just a few sentences to qualify that remark.
My family is from Germany via Russia. This year we found out about unbelievable, unspeakable atrocities that happened to Germans from Russia, my family included. Germans that were conscripted by Catherine the Great to work Russian land, were rounded up and sent to Siberia and other locations to work camps, later many of them were mass murdered, because they were German. The remainder lived in Russia as slaves of the new government and lived lives in hard labor and meaningless existences. I suppose I am lucky that my ancestors got out before they were rounded up. 5 of my great, great, great Uncles were not so lucky, and we have the documentation to show when and where they were murdered.
Here is the point. When I hear the word Siberia, I do not run and hide, get upset, or fear for my life.
No one has been “Lynched” in America in Generations. No one has been shackled to a ship and forced into Slavery in America in Generation, in fact… there is not an African American in America today that is a slave or knows first hand anyone living that was one. And by first hand I mean can pay the person a visit and have a chat about their experience.
Yes African Americans paid an unnecessary price and have endured unspeakable tragedy, and for that I feel nothing but the most pain in my heart for them. But it is 2008 and we need to move on. Was that not the purpose of the Civil Rights movement?
We have spent the better part of 30 years trying to heal wounds and make things better. We honor those that fought, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and the like have made contributions to America that we are eternally in debt for. But the fact that we can not seem to move on and progress worries me.
Every time someone says something stupid, should we not chalk it up to stupidity and move on. I think we as a nation are smarter now than ever before and should be able to apply a common sense approach and discern what is hateful and what is stupid.
Kelly Tilghman said something stupid. She is a friend of Tiger Woods, and did not have the least bit of hate in her comment. She was suspended by Fox and will spend the rest of her life in the shadow of her comment. And yeah… you reap what you sow. But why does Al Sharpton need to stand up and play the race card. Tiger does not seem to care.. and the comment was directed at him, not the African America community.
Over sensitivity will never allow us to move on. We should never forget the past, and always apply the lessons learned. Slavery of any race is horrible and a violation of all human rights. But we do not have slaves in America now and a “Word” will not bring it back. Using the word “Lynch” in the context of a golf game is not going to insight gangs of hooded cowards to round up people and hang them.. this is just a ridiculous thought.
I understand that it offends some people… but why? It’s a word, much like any other. If you are offended by it, it is because you refuse to move on. Easy for me to say… NO. But in the context of America today it is a safe thing to say. We do not live under the threat of such things. And I highly doubt given the sensitivity of our American people, we will ever see that again. And that is a good thing. It means America is trying to move on. Not forget, not discount, not make light of, but move on to being a better Nation where we are “not judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character”.
Third- The context of Scouting and this issue.
Real simple. The Scout Oath and Law will not allow it.
To truly be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent a person must live the values contained within. A friendly person will not harm another or do things to slander or hate. One that is kind and obedient will put others concerns and needs before themselves. It takes bravery to stand up for what is right. A clean heart and mind will not allow for hateful expression, and a Reverent person believes in the golden rule of “Doing unto others…”
As I listened over the past few days, I worried about this. Sure we should talk about it, it is how we move on. But it also seems that making everything an “Issue” just keeps us in a stagnate mode spinning in a circle that allows for no upward movement socially.
I am just a Scoutmaster, with an opinion like everyone else. Some agree with me, some do not. But what you can not disagree with is the fact that what I do is teach and expect young men, those young men that one day will be the heart beat of our social conscience leading our country in the future, to learn and live by a set of values that are good and right.
And at the end of the Good and Right always win!
We prove that over and over, just look at our history. We may take too much time to figure it out, but in the end we learn and do our best to make it right.