The importance of cheerful service

Stethoscope_200Last week was a proud one for us. My son entered medical school, and on completion of his first week, a ceremony was held for the incoming class at which the new students received their white coats. It was a moving ceremony – the faculty of the medical school addressed the students on the journey they were about to embark upon. Emphasized over and over was the importance of caring for the human aspects of dealing with patients. To us, this was a departure from our usual impression of doctors as clinicians, dealing more with the science of medicine than the effects of illness and wellness on their fellow humans.

One of the professors who spoke to the incoming class offered two key pieces of advice: Find out what you’re passionate about, and do it and Go where you can do the most good. 

The first is a common thought that not everyone follows. For a future doctor, it can be guidance into a medical specialty. For the rest of us, it poses a challenge to do what we perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily consider doing. Early in life it’s easier to change course than later, but it’s never too late to spend at least some time doing the things we care about. It’s good advice in general but especially for young people. My son found a love of chemistry early on, and the roads he followed along the way took him into medicine, which he truly has a zest for. For the young people we work with, help them find where their interests lie, and use your experience to guide them.

The second embodies the concept of serving others – something that’s central to the core values of Scouting. We may not need to travel across the globe to maximize the value of our contribution; there may be a Scout in the next town with whom we can share our knowledge on a merit badge, or a newly-forming pack in our district whose overwhelmed volunteers can benefit from our experience.

Scouting affords our young people an introduction to a lifetime of service to others, carried out with an attitude of good cheer. Helpful is right in the middle of the first part of the Scout Law, and Cheerful is a key of the second. Youth who have been in Scouting have a greater understanding of the importance of helping other people, and this makes for a natural transition into humanistic occupations such as medicine.

In the “me-first” society that we seem to live in, Scouting offers a refreshing contrast. Our Scouts are not typical boys – they may seem to be on the surface, but deep down, where character lives, the undercurrent of helpfulness flows and serves to guide their life purpose.

Image: Lora Zibman / Flickr Creative Commons


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