Too many young men in America are broken. They are consumed by hate. Their lives are devoid of love – they aren’t receiving it, nor are they giving.
Vicious teenage boys mentally torture their peers in ways we never would have imagined as kids. That relentless needling has caused many of the bullied to end their lives, seeing death as the only way to escape the brutality.
Boys – and men behaving like boys – have mistreated women badly for too long. The much-welcomed #MeToo movement has been changing the power structure and culture of abuse in business, government, academia, and entertainment decades after women were allegedly granted power through the women’s lib movement. How did what these women are fighting become normal behavior for so many men?
Then there’s the issues of school shootings and gang violence. It’s always young men pulling the triggers and indiscriminately killing their peers. It takes an evil soul to want to inflict such carnage on those you grew up with and shared the schools, playgrounds, and streets with.
And, we can’t forget the hatred towards self that is manifested in the opiate crisis. Just a few years ago, the demographic of the opiate addict was a 38 to 42 year-old father who got hooked on pain killers as an unfortunate outcome of a work injury. Today, it’s 18 to 22 year kids who pick up the drugs for kicks, despite the incredible amount of public awareness on the ills of heroin.
How do we as a society overcome all of the hate?
We don’t seem to be doing a good job of that at all.
That’s because we teach and preach to the negative. School administrators, the media, public figures, and parents routinely say “don’t do this” or “don’t do that.” It’s rare that we deliver messages of personal growth and betterment to the positive with a far more powerful “do this” or “do that.”
It seems that we know what constitutes hate, but we haven’t created a counterculture to it.
Or have we?
The Boy Scouts of America has always offered such an alternative.
To simplify the goals of the organization, the purpose of Scouting is to help create better husbands, fathers, volunteers, and leaders. That is done through life-changing personal development exercises in the form of any number of fun, engaging experiences from camping to merit badges to service projects.
While participating in these activities and living their lives outside of the pack or troop, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts follow some simple yet effective rules that define the parameters of personal behavior while serving as a guiding light for the love of mankind and the betterment of the world for everyone.
Consider the Scout Motto (Be prepared), the Scout Slogan (Do a good turn daily), the points of the Scout Law (A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent) and the Scout Oath (On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight).
Those are some pretty powerful moral and personal codes to live by.
We need more of that in America, but it hasn’t been happening. In recent years, membership in Scouting has been around 2.3 million, down from a peak of 5.2 million in 1960. Boys haven’t been exposed to the program like they once were because of the changed make-ups of families, busy moms and dads, the plethora of alternative youth programs (sports, band), electronic media becoming a babysitter, and the disinterest some parents have in what they perceive to be “traditional values.”
A resurgence in Scouting could be what saves the American male. Scouts don’t make up the abusers and killers who give men a really bad name. Hate isn’t in a scout’s vocabulary; instead, he learns and lives by love. Scouts are the ones aiding the oppressed, saving lives, helping to build up their communities, and making the world a better place.
Just take a look at some of the results locally. The Iroquois Trail Council, which oversees 2,300 scouts in eastern Niagara and the GLOW counties had another banner year of results in 2017: 51 scouts completed dramatic, world-changing Eagle projects; our boys contributed more than 50,000 hours of their time to community service projects; and they stocked local food pantries with 12.5 tons of goods.
Those are just a few of the trackable victories. There are countless more that don’t show up in statistics like the things these boys and teens do in their day-to-day lives to ensure their classmates, families, and neighbors have far better days on this planet.
We need more young men like them. If there was ever a way to beat hate in America, it’s with Scouting.
From the 05 March 2018 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News