Values drive behavior

Today I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Dennis Prager Show.  I was listening to an older show in which he was talking about values, which, if you listen to his show for more than 10 minutes you will find that values is the main subject and the answer to most of our problems.  Anyway, the discussion today was about economics vs. values.  The argument was economics does not drive behavior, values drives behavior.  Now I am not going to turn this into a political post.  I could care less what your political affiliation is or how you view our political process.  I am however going to agree with Dennis Prager in his article “Science demands big government”.  Go ahead and read it for yourself and get back to me.  The point that I want to make is that I agree that economics is not the reason for bad behavior.. a lack of values is the reason for bad behavior.  We can all point to example after example of ‘less fortunate’ people that are good citizens, work hard, have good family lives, and do not engage in crime.  We can also point to example after example of ‘rich’ people that are crooks.  Individuals that have it all that do terrible things.  Just look at Madoff and his gang of financial thugs.  Ok.. you get the point there.
It all comes to values.  What values you were taught as a youngster and the values that you keep to drive your behavior.
OK… Are you ready for this… THE SCOUT LAW!
Yes ladies and Gentlemen.. the Scout Law has no economic boundaries, no financial limits, no ethnic affiliation, no class structure.  The Scout law is a set of values that shape behavior to a positive direction and ultimately ask for good behavior.
Take a look at the 12 points of the Scout Law.  These values should be a part of your life.  Take these twelve words and look at them closely.  Which one is not a good value?  Which one would allow you to do harm or demonstrate bad behavior?
The Scout Law is a great foundation for good behavior.  No matter where you live or how you were raised.  Living the Scout law you can not be a bad person.  I challenge you to prove me wrong.  Now.. be honest… you really have to live the Scout law.. not just say the words and call it good.  Saying words do not constitute “living” the values contained in the Scout law.  As much as knowing the 10 commandments without practicing them would not constitute living them.
So if we want to make the world a better place… lets try the Scout law.
One of Baden Powell’s ideas in starting Scouting was not to raise future soldiers but to grow a world wide peace movement.  The values found within the Scout law are universal and found in one form or another in Scouting organizations around the world.
The original Scout law appeared with the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908 and is as follows

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 it focused on Scouting in the United Kingdom. As other groups started up Scouting organizations, each modified the laws, for instance ‘loyal to the King’ would be replaced by the equivalent text appropriate for each country.
Baden Powell later added ‘A Scout is Clean in thought and word and Deed’ in the 1911 edition of Scouting for Boys.
The Law around the world is similar.  In Australia the Scout law reads:
A Scout is trustworthy, A Scout is Loyal, A Scout is helpful, A Scout is friendly, A Scout is cheerful, A Scout is considerate, A Scout is thrifty, A Scout is courageous, A Scout is respectful, A Scout cares for the environment.
In Bangladesh the Law looks like this: A Scout’s honour is to be trusted. A Scout is a friend to all.  A Scout is courteous and obedient.  A Scout is kind to animals.  A Scout is cheerful at all times.  A Scout is thrifty.  A Scout is clean in thought,word and deed.
In Germany the Scouts say the Scout Law in this manner;  As a boy scout …… I meet everybody with respect. All scouts are my brothers and sisters.  … I go through the world confidently.  … I am courteous and helpful wherever this is necessary.  … I shall not do things just by halves and shall not give up, even in difficult situations.  … I shall develop my own opinion and stand by it.  … I shall say what I think and do what I say.  … I shall live modestly and in an environmental conscience manner.  … I shall stand by my origins and my faith.
And finally, in Scout Africa the Scouts understand their values like this; A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.  A Scout is loyal.  A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.  A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.  A Scout is courteous.  A Scout is a friend to animals.  A Scout obeys orders.  A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.  A Scout is thrifty.  A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.
Given the fact that all of these places on our planet where boys and girls learn through the Scouting movement and share a common set of values.. should we not have a better world?  The answer is yes.. BUT… First.  We need more people to be in Scouts and more important… we need the Scouts to not just recite or rattle off the words of the Scout law.  We need them to LIVE IT!
So take a look at the Scout law.. can you handle it?  Can you live it?  Can it change behavior?
I think so.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: Scout Law | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Values drive behavior

  1. Scoutmaster

    Strongly disagree with “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.” Why must he act as a soldier? Must we not allow our youth to think for themselves? In such a formative time, they should be encouraged to question everything. Discipline can be encouraged without being blind. We’re not the military.

    • Remember that BP wrote Scouting for Boys in 1907… You may disagree and I concur that we are not the military. I simply used the older version of the Scout Law to reinforce the point that while verbage and the times have changed.. the values contained within have not. I think you can agree with that.
      Try not to apply Victorian English culture and how they defined the values with the way in which they are universally applied. Trustworthy is Trustworty etc.
      Thanks for the comment.

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