Citizenship of the Nation
David D. Miller +49 6221 404415 (DDM@DHDIBM1.BITNET)
Fri, 7 Feb 1992 20:33:10 CET
> Scouting is to build active citizens for their own country -- keep this
> in mind, everyone --- it is a basic ideal and goal of our entire program,
In BSA perhaps...
Good citizenship of the nation was eliminated from the aim of the Scout
Association of the United Kingdom by the Chief Scout's Advance Party.
What replaced it was a target of "encouraging the ... development of
young people so that they may take a constructive place in society."
This lasted until last year. The new version is based on the aims of
the World Organisation; I don't recall good citizenship being put back in.
I've read through the BSA's three Citizenship Merit Badge Books, and
find that I just don't relate to the Citizenship in the Nation.
(Now, was that really a surprise?)
Citizenship in the Community
is very important - learning to relate to those around you. Learning
what makes our immediate environment work. For the US Scouts in Germany,
Community is everything, and virtually self contained, enclosed within
a wider, but foreign, community. The Military Communities are complete,
with every need being met, and they are also easily studied. The British
Rank system also includes this theme, starting off with the tenderfoots
looking at a map of the town to find the Town Hall, Police Station, etc.,
and finishing with Venture Scouts going to meetings of the local Council
and talking with the police about a career "on the beat".
Citizenship in the World
I also find important. One of the other US Scout Leaders here commented
that he now found being a member of WOSM far more important than being
in BSA. What seems to be a meaningless purple patch, worn 7.62 cm
below the left shoulder seam on a BSA Uniform has for him become almost
the most important on the uniform. For me it is already the most important,
since it is the only badge common to all of my uniforms. Knowing a little
about other countries is the first stage in getting out to see the world.
A little internationalism in my Scouting was the only real preparation I
had for leaving home to work in Germany.
Citizenship in the Nation
just doesn't seem to fit. Yes, there should be a merit badge covering
American Heritage, but the basics of living in the U.S., and understanding
the method of government, the flag, the constitution, etc., should be part
of the training of all Scouts in the U.S., not just those who have U.S.
parentage. This seems to be the only merit badge which discriminates
against foreigners, the only other obvious example being in the Boy
Scout joining requirements.
If there are Americans offended by this, please remember that I'm currently
being subjected to a major campaign by the German federal government to
cut down on discrimination against foreigners. With action on billboards,
in schools, and in Scouting, the target is to remove the words "Auslander"
(foreigner) and "Gastarbeiter" (immigrant worker) from the German language.
Anything calling itself "National" is almost prohibited by federal law, and
the "Hakenkreutz" (Swastika) is a banned symbol. The ideal of citizenship
not in the nation, but in a wider community, is being aimed at.
Just before the year-end break, I did a session with my German Cub group
on their attitudes to foreigners. I started by asking them to describe
a typical Gastarbeiter, and finished by reminding them that I was also
an Auslander and a Gastarbeiter. No, I didn't quite match the descriptions
that they had given.
David D. Miller
Scouting in Europe - A Unique Experience
P.S. One of the things I still find strange about the BSA Rank system is
that badges supposed to be gained on "merit" have become "required". Why
not re-map the system to put these requirements into the rank requirements,
like for Tenderfoot, 2nd Class and 1st Class. I agree with needing an
additional merit badge for each rank: Scouts need to find their own interests,
outwith the normal Troop activities.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City