Talk is Cheap
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 16:37:01 -0500
"Talk is Cheap -- Actions are Priceless"
I started this out five times already, and everytime I started it out, the
computer that I am using would "hang" and I would lose the entire article.
This posting is not about technology or the lack of it, however. It is
about what I called in the book "Patches and Pins" a while back "Wearing and
There's a bumper sticker that I saw recently that best describes what I told
a group of Scouts here at Fort McCoy a couple of days ago: "Talk is cheap;
actions are priceless".
I have noticed that several pastors and ministers have picked up on this
fact of American life: Everyone wants to display their affiliations but
nobody wants to live BY their affiliations.
I told a group of Scouts about that yesterday. They were on their way
toward a continued hike by bicycle or foot along a state bikeway around
Black River Falls. They stopped at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin to get a bite to
eat at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center, a spawling campus located
near the center of the Army Reserve installation. Fort McCoy, like six
other Active Army installations, now belongs completely to the Army Reserve
Command to train and coach Reserve and Guard members. McCoy supports
soldiers and units from all over the Midwest. I have been here since last
Friday, performing part of my 17-day Annual Training required of all Army
I saw those Scouts and Scouters as they were on their way out of the dining
facility. I was late getting there. By the time I approached the doors to
go into the military "chow hall", they were being locked and the workers
started their accounting process. I was really looking forward to that food,
too...it was a long day. My day started early, as I played "Command Public
Affairs Officer" for the Reserve Support Command (RSC). The RSC entertained
the Defense Department's entourage of civilians including a Deputy Secretary
of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Resource Management.
This meant in part eating a Meals-Ready-to Eat (MRE) breakfast and lunch
with those civilians and my "temporary boss", the Commanding General of the
Reserve Support Command and "enjoying it as if it was the first time we've
eaten them", I told the Scouts and the adults along with them. They
laughed. I did too.
But the most important parts of what I had to say was in response to a
question from one of the younger Scouts -- a Tenderfoot Scout -- and after I
encouraged them all to move toward First Class and being thankful that their
adults took the time to be there for them and with them, was what I told
them about "being a Scout"
"You don't need to wear a badge to be a Scout", I explained to them. "I can
tell a Scout a mile away. Scouting is not just about earning badges and
becoming Eagle Scouts....it's able to live the Scouting ideals in your daily
lives. Its being able to be there when some group needs a leader. When
someone wants to know directions on how to get someplace. When someone
needs a friend. And having fun doing it all", I told them. There are too
many Scouts and Scouters that think that the only times they have to uphold
the Scout Promise and Laws are when they are in a Scout uniform. I added to
the group of Scouts that "This is the best time of your lives...Scouting is
a game designed to get you ready for life out there with dishonest people,
with people whom are not helpful, whom are not well-behaved, whom are not
good citizens. People who have problems relating and talking with others.
In short, not so nice people."
I told them in part how I became a Scout and how much I've enjoyed the game
of Scouting. I stood there, looking into the faces of those young boys and
their adults and admitted that I was not the best Patrol Leader the first
time around, but that I "learned from my many mistakes" as the time went
onward and I was given another chance to become a Patrol Leader again. I
excelled that time, thanks to a great Scoutmaster and my previous
experience. Several of the Scouts there looked amazed at the fact that
here's this Army guy, dressed in the "uniform of the Army soldier" (the only
day that I had to wear the Army Battle Dress Uniform, the "field uniform" of
the Army; the rest of the days so far have been in civilian clothing due to
my role here), talking with them about Scouting -- and in more detail than
"yeah, I wuz a Scout. Purty good one, too....went campin' with the rest of
the Troops...." *broad grin*
I overheard one of the Scouts whispering and nodding his head to another,
"He knows his stuff, huh?"
Afterwards, one of the Scouters accompanying the group shook my hand and
told me "that's exactly what we were trying to get them to understand. You
know, last night, we just had a meeting and we talked about what you just
talked about. Your message came at a great time."
David Blankenship and I exchanged cards and I gave him information about
Scouts-L (of course) and I wished them luck as I got them on their way and
myself on the way toward visiting the Burger King for "real food" and coffee.
When Jessica and I started dating, now years back it seems, she asked me
"How do you know what to say at those different Scouting events and things?"
I explained that many times it comes from what the event is and what they
would like me to emphasize and I don't budge from it, like at a Council or
District dinner. But a lot of times, I think about "if I was sitting out
there, and someone came from a long ways off to talk to me about Scouting,
what would I want to hear him or her say?", and I say those things.
She soon learned that many times, it sounds like the same: I'm proud of each
of you for becoming a Scout or Scouter; what you are doing you won't see any
results from for many years but one day, it will "hit you on the head" like
that V-8 commercial. Scouting is a game, a game to get you ready for life;
in a game, you can mess up and there won't be much of a penalty...in life,
if you mess up, you and everyone around you know it. Everyone wants to be
an Eagle Scout, but that's not the only reason that Scouting exists....the
badges are only the means to get you to learn something new, to go and work
with people you've never met and places you've never been before. First
Class is where EVERY Scout should be, because it gets you ready for the
bigger "rounds" within Scouting. She's heard them, and a couple of others
that I tell Scouts when I speak.
She knows that I can go on and on, too....and carefully looks at me to tell
me "Okay, I think they got the message...sit down and shut up, honies." On
the way home, she always tell me "That's not what you practiced at
home...you never do what you say you're going to do" (one of her favorite
I feel that Scouts and Scouters need to see other Scouts and Scouters. To
talk with them, to joke and kid with them and to become friends with them.
They need to be reassured that they are in the SAME Scouting program. They
need to be reassured that what they are doing is important and to be told
that, not from those locally....for all they know, Scouting to them could be
a grand "con game", designed to expend large amounts of personal and
professional time. They need to be told this from other Scouters, people
they have never seen nor heard of before. They need to be told this from
their national and regional Scouting leaders and Scout representatives.
They need to be told this from their elected representatives and not as a
self-serving thing, either.
They need to be told that what they are doing in the "Game of Scouting" is
important to the success of their nation, of their communities. It will
enrich their religious and personal beliefs. It will make them better
citizens and better individuals in a world of "dishonest people, with people
whom are not helpful, whom are not well-behaved, whom are not good citizens.
People who have problems relating and talking with others. In short, not so
I tell new Eagle Scouts in personal letters, "Anyone can buy an Eagle Scout
badge and proclaim themselves as an Eagle Scout. It takes finding the right
person and buying the badge from them. But Eagle Scouts -- real ones --
know that it's not what they say they are, but rather what they have
obligated themselves toward doing for others.
"Talk is cheap; actions are priceless".
I just hope and pray that my cheap talk sinks in and works with the actions
of those Scouts and Scouters in their units. Those new Scouts and Scouters
really need to hear it...more importantly, they need to see it occur in
their lives in their towns.
It was great talking with them and listening to them. I wished that I could
have gone with them...after all, I *did* bring a Scout uniform (I always do).
MAJ Mike L. Walton
Public Affairs Officer, 21st Theater Army Area Command (CA)
...travelling along the log lines....
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
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