Comfort and joy

Over the last few weeks, our offices at work have undergone some renovations, including removal of the 25-year-old wall coverings, painting, general cleaning and rearranging of the furniture. The good news is that I get a new office cubicle with more space and a bit more privacy, but the downside has been working in the interim in temporary quarters, jammed into a small room with several of my co-workers. (But let me be clear that my co-workers are not a downside – I happen to work with a great team that gets along very well.)

During the process, the painters had their obligatory boom-box going in the next room. Ordinarily you’d hear rock and roll or country music, but they usually had the radio tuned to the station playing Christmas music. I thought “oh brother, here come the same twelve Christmas songs over and over” and spent the rest of the day with echoes of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You rattling in my head. Six weeks of that, I told myself, is more miserable than waiting for the groundhog’s prediction to come true.

But then it occurred to me why we embrace the holiday season. Continue reading “Comfort and joy”

You are this nation’s knighthood

I’m reading a book by an up-north Wisconsin author that I happened across at one of my favorite bookstores, Between the Covers in Harbor Springs. The Hearts of Men is a novel about a young man coming of age in the 1960s. The protagonist in the just-published second novel from author Nickolas Butler is a Boy Scout, and the story tells of his relationship with his family, the bounds of morality and redemption, and the struggle to make lifelong friendships.

I expect that I’ll write a more thorough review once I finish the book, but one paragraph leapt off the page in light of this week’s events at the National Boy Scout Jamboree Continue reading “You are this nation’s knighthood”

Ethics

Ethics. It’s a big word. It can be a loaded word in some ways.

Ethics is typically defined as the fundamental principles of decent human conduct. Merriam-Webster defines it as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. In business, it can be taken to encompass the study of universal values such as respect and equality for men and women, fairness in dealings with others and concern for health, safety and the environment.

Does this sound familiar in a Scouting context? It certainly should.

Ethics is at the heart of the values we instill in our young people. Continue reading “Ethics”

Dealing with policy issues

RuleBook_200A reader writes:

Our Scoutmaster wants to make changes to the troop uniform policy, but when I said I should have been in on the discussion he told me that uniforming wasn’t something that was at the committee chair level, since it deals directly with the Scouts. I said that changes of that nature need to be incorporated into the troop handbook, and should still be discussed by the committee. Should I have a say in the matter?

Let’s look a little deeper into what you’re asking and see if we can figure out what the real issues are. Continue reading “Dealing with policy issues”

Patterns of character

charactercounts_200If you are a civics aficionado, this is a very interesting time. We are in the midst of one of the most notable and volatile presidential campaigns in our country’s history. Much is being said on both sides of the debate, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone could not have formed an opinion by now.

But how do we form our opinions on matters of such great importance as electing our leaders?

As we prepare to choose who will represent us, in offices ranging from city council to the presidency, each of us looks for many factors in deciding who to support.

Undoubtedly, character is one of the most important of these factors, as it is probably the most reliable predictor of what a person would do in office. It’s not easy to gauge someone else’s character – you have to look for the outward signs that give a glimpse of inner traits. Sometimes these are fairly obvious but they can be quite obscure.

Perhaps the most important thing to examine is our own character, and for us Scouters, what better way is there than to hold character up to the light of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The twelve points give us some solid benchmarks for comparison and judgment. Continue reading “Patterns of character”