I am going to do my very best to keep this post “Political Neutral”. I am not soliciting debate or political opinion..
I have kept very quiet about the election and aftermath of election day in this blog. This blog is about positive solutions and doing what we can to make a difference. But I am at a point where I can no longer maintain blog silence as it pertains to the events of the last week.
First let me say this. I do not care who you voted for. If you have read the blog since 2007 you know that I pretty much maintain a conservative point of view. I am not a politics enthusiast. I am of the mind set that smaller government is much better and allows people to find success and opportunity. Further, it causes people to be their best and discover their path.
So in that vain, please bare with me as I try to express my thoughts.
A few years ago, Scouting (WOSM) rolled out the “Messengers of Peace” initiative. The purpose was to encourage Scouts and Scouters to find ways to live the vision of Baden Powell and make a positive difference in our world. The Boy Scouts of America introduced it’s Messenger of Peace program, and in typical fashion came out with a list of requirements and provided incentives to do the right thing.
My Troop participated and earned the Messenger of Peace award. And that was that. Like most units.. I would venture to say all units that participated, it fulfilled the requirements, handed out patches and not another word was said about it.
In 2015 I was inspired at the National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State University when the National Chief asked all of us to make a difference with the Pledge of
It starts with Us! Thousands of Arrowmen pledged that we would go back to our units, chapters, Lodges, and Councils and Make a change in the way that we lived, creating real change in our world. For 365 days Scouts and Scouters made an effort to Do their Good Turn daily as they Tweeted #daretodo! It was a massive and visible campaign that had real potential to make a difference and leave a lasting legacy as the Order of the Arrow entered it’s second century. An organization grounded in service to others and love of one another managed to go 365 days and then what?
Every Monday night and on meeting nights through out the week in Troop meetings across the country we pledge to “Help other People at all times” and we express the values of the Scout Law. But at the end of the meeting for most Scouts and Scouters they are just words that we put on hold till the next meeting. An Oath and set of values that if actually lived will make a huge difference in our Country.
1.1 million volunteers and 114,994 national community organizations serving 2.7 million young people. You would think with that large number of people those of us in the Boy Scouts of America could make a difference? If only we believed in what we preach.
If only it wasn’t about a Tweet or a patch, but real change.
CITIZENSHIP, CHARACTER, FITNESS!
Remember.. those are the Aims of Scouting. Those are what we want of our young people,the very young people that we want to be able to make those ethical decisions over their life times (see the Mission statement of the BSA). These same young people that will vote in the next election and we will ask to move our country forward in the future.
The Scout Oath and Law are the keys to social justice.
Government is NOT the answer when it comes to social justice.. in fact it is contrary to providing the means of living in a country that measures itself on character and being our brothers keeper. Government can not do that. The nature of Government is divisive. We have parties that instead of finding common ground, sling mud and skirt the issues in order to make the other look bad. These actions do not unite or solve problems, they create mistrust and remove rational thinking and discussion from the table.
Government should not be emotional. Government is about governing. Our constitution guarantees it’s citizens rights and the pursuit of happiness.. it does not guarantee success nor prosperity. It gives us a chance. Social justice to many has become a hand out or the ability to criticize someone else for having more. But it does not address what makes for us to have a common bond and create an environment where social justice can happen.
Social justice is defined as “… promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.” It exists when “all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.” In conditions of social justice, people are “not to be discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristic of background or group membership” (Toowoomba Catholic Education, 2006).
This does not take away from ones ability to have more or do more, it does however require that those that do realize that as a member of society they have an obligation to be more.
As with those of us that enjoy membership in Scouting. By and large, we have more and can do more. We are educated in the ideals that make for a better society. We pledge to be more by helping others at all times and living a life guided by the Scout Law. Governments can not do this. When we swing to far to the left or to far to the right we find ourselves creating a bigger gap in society. We unintentional (I hope) polarize our communities between those that feel that they deserve what they work hard for and those that feel because you have more you should share.
We remove the incentive for those that do have more to give because they want to and those that are used to receiving to get by. There is not a reason to give and there is a defeated attitude to get out of the situation you are in.
That is way over simplified, but it is clear that for centuries in America there have been the haves and the have- not’s. The idea of social justice is to find a place in the middle. Not to take away from those that have, but to encourage them to find a way to serve. It is a way to educate people out of poverty and reach out and provide at least a level playing field.
The problem with Social Justice comes down to people. Governments can enact laws and policy, but it can never legislate what is in someones heart.
It seems that the church has not been able to affect social change. They too find themselves in a mode of self preservation. To solve the problem effectively puts them out of business.. and so goes government policy. When we are out of problems, we have no need to have national debate.
What do we do about this? We can identify all of the problems all day long, but ultimately it is going to take action to reach the vision of Social Justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a vision of Social Justice. It was during a time in America where it was clearly black and white. Less about economics and prosperity. It was about Equity not Equality. We will never be equal. I will never be 6’7 and have the opportunity to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. I will never say that it is not fair that I can’t be that guy. What I do want though is the fair chance to try. And that is what the march on Washington DC was about. What is fair, the idea that we judge one another not for what we look like, but for what we can do and who we are. Our Character is the great common factor that should govern our ideals, thoughts, and the way we treat others.
This past week we have seen the culmination of the worst of people. Protest has turned violent and in my opinion hurt their cause. We have a process in America of free elections. No one seems to be arguing that the election was not fair. Many are not happy with the outcome. So be it.
We live in a Nation that was built on protest, but protest that was part of a vision to make our country and make it great. Throughout American history we have seen over and over again opportunity for parties to debate and come to agreement that moved the country forward. We have let those days go by and seem to have not learned from our past. Perhaps this is a generational thing. In a country that has allowed one side or the other to “rule” in 8 year stints. We have grown accustomed to getting our way. One side not necessarily caring what the other thinks.
This is not unique to Republicans or Democrats. It has become a common trait in American politics. This has driven wedges in our people and as we have seen this week led to pain and anxiety.
In his famous “I have a Dream” speech, King said ” In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” In an effort to maintain his theme of character over discrimination Dr. Martin Luther King pleaded to the masses to seek social justice rather than mob rule.
In the discussion of social justice what we need is action not division. We must think beyond our neighborhoods and look to the future and a vision of what we want to be. I believe that we can make a difference. I give up on governments and principalities. I know that the answer is in everyone of us. Individuals and Groups that want to make a difference, not for a patch or reward. Not for recognition or fame. For the sake of our country and social justice.
Over the past week I have talked a lot about vision. Being what we want to be and using measurable tools to achieve success. Success defined by taking care of our fellow man.
No matter who is in charge or what political party they belong to. What are WE going to so about it? That is what will matter in the end.
Martin Luther Kings words speak to us today when he said; “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I am not suggesting we circle up and sing Kumbia. We do not need to light candles and hug it out. We need to take action. Good always triumphs over bad.
It does start with us! It is up to us to be Messengers of Peace, it is in every one us. It is our move. Social Justice depends on it.
Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.
Have a Great Scouting Day!