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 and the statement that followed from Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh. In this chapter, the camp director of a Boy Scout summer camp was speaking to the Scouts as they lined up for the morning flag ceremony.
Now, here is the thing: You are this nation’s knighthood. You are the ones with a code, with a sense of duty, of right and wrong. It is you who will be challenged, asked to cheat, tempted to corrupt. And for those of you out there before me now, those of you true to heart, I want you to know there is a reward in being good, in being decent, in being kind. It is this: You need not lie about your behavior, you need not hide anything, or be ashamed. You need never to apologize. You will be the leaders and the defenders. Those in our society who are weak, who are downtrodden, or hard on their luck, their faces will turn to you for help or guidance. Which is why you must persevere, why your spirit must endure.
If only those words had been spoken to those tens of thousands of good Scouts instead of the words they heard on Monday.