Sense I was a young boy I have lived my life by a set of rules, a code, if you will. This code, made up of 12 simple words, has acted as a moral compass to guide my action. I have recited these words every Monday sense I was ten. These words have meaning, and I feel that they can change the world. You see I was a Boy Scout, and I am now a Scout Master, and I feel as though the Scout Law is exactly what the world is missing.
A Scout is:
Trustworthy: A scout tells the truth. So often in today’s world we get so caught up in being right, or winning, that we sell our souls to do it. We build our lives based off of lies, and are devastated when the house of cards comes crashing down. The world was a better place when a deal was struck by the shacking of hands, when a promise carried a greater weight than a signed piece of paper. I often ask older scouts to tell me what the phrase “On my honor” means. Many give me long grandiose answers, which are all valid, but I find the answers given to me by the younger scouts ring most true. The phrase on my honor means that you are making a promise from the very depths of your soul. It is time we return a sense of trust and honor to this world. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t create myths and legends just to trick your opponent into making a mistake.
Loyal: Loyalty is a trait lost upon many today. It is something that far too many people have cast aside. What is Loyalty, what does it mean to be loyal? Does it mean blind folded allegiance, or being shackled to a cause chosen years ago? No it means to stand by those who stand by you. To be there for the people who mean the most in your life. It means personal sacrifice in the name of what you hold dear. Being loyal means that when someone needs you, you are willing to throw down what you are doing and run to help them. No man, woman, or child should have to face the storms of this world alone, just because you are already comfortable and safe inside your own home. The attitude of “I would have helped, but I was too busy”, is what is wrong with this society, people like to think they are loyal, but far too often when push comes to shove, when they are called to act, they choose instead to think about themselves first, and leave their loved ones to fend for themselves.
Helpful: The world would be a better place if everyone was just a little bit more helpful to one another. I am not talking about doing some grand extreme make over type of help, just the small simple things that can make a person’s day just a little brighter. Like opening doors for women, or helping your neighbor bring the groceries in. For those of us in the northern part of the country, lend a hand when that blanket of fresh white snow falls, and help the people on your street dig out. Small acts of helpful kindness, can change the world. Don’t do it for personal gain, don’t do it because you think that is what society would want you to do, do it because it is a kind gesture, because you genuinely want to be a kind person.
Friendly: How nice would it be if you knew everyone on your street? If you had friends all over the city or town you live in? How nice would it be to live in a place where you walk down the street and complete strangers bid you a heartfelt greetings? Sure to many of us in this fast pace self-centered world it would seem like something out of the twilight zone, but honestly think about how nice it would be if everyone knew everyone. I know that is a lofty goal, but so was putting a man on the moon. Try waving and smiling at the people you meet throughout the day. Try being helpful to people, and doing it with a smile on your face. I guarantee you that if you open up, and are willing to be a friend in this world, your life will be filled with more happiness than you can imagine. Your friendly smile, your fond hello, might just change someone life. Show someone they are not alone. Show someone that there is good in this world. If we were all just a little friendlier to one another, so many of the bad things that happen, would just seem like nightmares of a dark age.
Courteous: The world can never have too much courtesy. Politeness and manners are things that we try so hard to instill in young children, but fail to champion by our own actions. Why is it that we want our kids to be polite, and practice good manners? Well the answer is obvious that is how we think people should behave, say please and thank you, don’t belch and fart at the dinner table, don’t make funny faces or call people names. We think this is how the world should be, but then we fail to champion these principles ourselves. We yell at children for using foul language, then cuss out the person who cuts us off. We tell children not to call people names, but then lash out at the waitress for screwing up our order. Kids see that, and they begin to think that being courteous is just something kids do, and that it is a sign of being an adult when you are able to throw curse words, and play about in the moral filth like their parents.
We must live as we expect our kids to live, and follow the same rules that we expect them to follow. That is part of what being a role model, being a parent is about. I am not just talking about being courteous when the kids are around, and then being the same old slobs we have always been when they are not. That is a lie, and that goes against the very first point in the law. Eventually the kids will find out the truth, and it will erode your moral authority. Be courteous to those around you, open doors, say thank you, and ask politely. Do not just go about demanding things as if you are some type of king. Maybe then this world of self-indulgence and undue entitlement will finally meet its end.
Kind: how often we forget to be kind to one another. How many problems are started in this world because of a lack of kindness, a lack of compassion? So often we view kindness and compassion as a weakness, a weapon for the wicked to use against us. True often times it is the kind, who find themselves at the sharp end of wicked deeds, but does that mean that we should not be kind to each other? What good are principles, a moral code if we cast them aside at the first sign of trouble? Are they really principles if after the first time you get burned by lawless men you drop them? Are you really any better than a monster if you give up on being morally righteous because it is a little difficult?
Kindness is infectious, it spreads like wildfire, one kind deed, leads to another. It does not take a much to show a bit of kindness in your everyday life. Like sitting with that kid who gets picked on, because no one should have to eat lunch alone. It is not hard to hold a door for someone, or pick up a piece of trash that someone left lying on the ground. The actions may seem small, but a single grain of rice can tip the scale, a single kind action might change the world.
Obedient: This one is often the hardest for adults to follow. I myself have a hard time with this one from time to time. For a child obedience is easy to understand, you follow the rules set by your parents, and your teachers. Adults make rules and you follow them. That is how the world works. Easy enough to understand. But when a child sees an adult who lacks obedience, once again this idea that rules are only for kids, and that ignoring them is a sign that they are grown up and cool becomes an issue.
But as adults who are we obedient to? Who makes the rules, why do I have to follow other people’s rules? Sure there are the laws that the government makes, those are rules, and those we should follow. That is setting a good example for the kids. Most adults have no issue with that, the problem remains, who are we obedient to? Can you not be obedient to yourself? If you make rules that you expect your children to follow, such as no swearing, no soda after dinner, keep your room clean, no desert unless you finish your vegetables, do these rules not apply to you just because you are an adult? If so is that double standard something you want your kids to apply to their lives? Do the benefits of following those rules not also apply to you? Lead by example and be obedient to the rules that you have set for your own home. If the school your child goes to has a dress code, and you allow them to leave the house knowing full well that they are dressed inappropriately, are you not condoning disobedience? Just because the rules of your house say it is okay, does not mean that other peoples rules are less important than yours. The work place has different rules, than most peoples personal lives, school should be no different. If we would stop fighting with each other, and accept that some places have different rules than others, perhaps rules, laws, and regulations would not be so fragrantly disregarded by so many.
Like I said, for adults, obedience is hard, because so often we feel that we have grown above it. How about obedience to our moral code, and our own personal ethics?
Cheerful: This is an easy one, be happy. When I worked on the grounds crew at the local school district I would always see the faces of people driving to work, and in the four years I worked there never once did I see someone who was happy or even had a smile on their face. So often we look for reasons to be angry, we look for reasons to be mad at life. Why can we not find the things to be happy about? Why can we not face our day knowing that, sure there will be hardships, but by God life is good? We live in the greatest nation in the world. We enjoy freedoms that other people can only dream of. We have a government that cannot just come in and steal our children, or destroy our homes. Sure your job might not be the best, but it could be worse, you could be unemployed. I tell my own father this all the time. He will say “I have to go to work” I look at him and say “no you GET to go to work”. He doesn’t have to go to his job, he chooses to. He could quit, give up his salary, lose his house, his car, his nice TV, and his bed. He chooses to go to work, and that is something a lot of people cannot say. That is something to be cheerful about. I am not doing this because I have to, I am doing it because I want to. I wonder how many people in China would like to be able to think that when they go to work. I see people driving brand new Cadillacs, and they look out upon the world as if they had just lost their only child, you have a nice car, which means you probably have a nice job, why are you so angry? The problems in our lives can be more easily fixed if we go in with a positive attitude, rather than just going in knowing that we are already defeated. Great the day with a smile, your friends with a laugh, and know that today life is good.
Thrifty: Oh how we can all learn from the concept of being thrifty. How nice would it be if our government understood the concept of being thrifty? I do not understand why this one is so hard for so many people. In the 1920’s people were having a good time, the country had just come out of the worse recession in its history, the world was once again at peace, technology was booming, things were good. People wanted that new fancy automobile that they had heard so much about, new shoes, new cloths, a new house, a new stove, one of them there fancy automatic clothes washers. They got caught up in the hype, bought a lot of things on credit, things they could not afford, they created a bubble, and eventually in 1929 that bubble came crashing down into the Great Depression. A concept of thrift was learned real quick in those hard up days. People learned to be responsible with their money, and only buy what they could afford. This lesson went unheeded in the 1980’s and the 1990’s. People blame the banks, people blame the government, people blame the George Soros, and George W. Bush for the house collapse of 2008, but the truth is that none of these people are to blame. The banks did not hold a gun to your head, President Bush didn’t threaten the life of your first born child if you did not buy that house, George Soros might have, but I am pretty sure he didn’t (he just creeps me out). The only reason that our country is in the financial situation it is in, is because of us. We bought things we knew we couldn’t afford, because we wanted them, regardless of the consequences. I don’t care what the pitch from the bank was, a thrifty person would have known, I make 40,000 a year, I doubt I can afford to buy a 200,000 dollar house, a swimming pool, and a new car. Perhaps I could buy a new house, and wait for the new car, or maybe just get a new car, and wait on the house. It was a lack of personal responsibility. We have to accept that, or there is no point in trying to follow any of these rules.
Live your life within your means. Save up your money to buy fancy things. Don’t let the fast pace of this modern world trick you into thinking you have to have everything right now. A thrifty life can be a full life. It is a lot nicer to come home every day and know that while you might not have everything the Joneses have you are not buried under a mountain of debt.
Brave: This is quite possibly the key point in making all of these ideas work. You must be brave. You must have the courage to stand up to the world, even if you think you are standing alone. The world is a sick and twisted place, and it will not suffer the existence of a righteous man. It will do everything it can to drag you down into the filth with all the rest of human kind.
I stare out a diseased world, each day that passes man finds a new way to terrify and torture his fellow man. Be it by the sword, gun fire, or the sharp lance of a wicked tongue man is truly cruel to his fellow man. In this world of depravity and wickedness it is hard to believe that kindness and compassion can still exist. Evil is allowed to persist when good men stand by and do nothing. There are countless souls ready to stand up for good, but they are afraid to make themselves a target of the sin filled world. They need someone to inspire them, someone to show them that they are not alone. You can be that person. You must be that person. You must take it upon yourself to stand up to the wicked ways of this world, and show the rest of mankind that as FDR once said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. With a clean conscience, and willing soul you can overcome even the darkest monsters of this world. You must find within yourself the courage to stand up for what you believe and no matter how many times the world shoves you down into the dirt, you must always be willing to jump back up and fight to the bitter end.
You must have the bravery to stand up to the bully picking on the mentally handicapped kid. You must have the bravery to tell people to stop it, when they are rubbing someone’s failures in their face. You must have the bravery to say enough is enough when people are making someone the blunt of their jokes.
Clean: Be clean of body, be clean of mind, and be clean of tongue. It surprises me how often we forget to keep ourselves clean. A clean body is a courtesy to those around you. A clean mind helps to keep ones actions in line with one’s moral code. If you have dirty thoughts, your actions, no matter how well intentioned, will be stained by the filth you allow to live within your mind. A clean tongue helps remind the world to keep themselves clean. This is important for all of us to remember. How we communicate to one another sends strong messages about who we really are. If you allow profanity and cruelty to rule your speech, you will not sway people to your opinion, you will paint yourself a brute, as an unintelligent buffoon in capable of defending the merits of your own ideas.
Reverent: So many shy away from this point, but that is because they forget the concept of bravery. Be reverent in your life. I am reverent to God, I am reverent to the principles that I try to live my life by. Being reverent does not mean that you have to worship God and Jesus Christ, that is a way to express your reverence, but to be reverent simply means to be respectful, a feeling of showing profound respect. Reverence is something we could all do with a little more of. Respect, for those things that make our life so fulfilling, Respect for those things that have allowed us to become who we are today.
I challenge each and every one of you to live your life based off of these principles for a year. Take notes, keep a diary or journal of how you attempted to live by these points, and what you think you should do to better fulfill them. At the end of the year, write a post about what differences you have found in your life, and which point you feel has had the most impact on your life. This is not meant to be political, so I humbly ask that if you are thinking of making it so, please do not comment. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that if the world lived by these principles, it would be a far better place.
If you are brave enough, and willing to accept my challenge, copy this post and repost it on your blog. Change the intro if you wish.
So who will accept my challenge, stand up and let your voice be heard.