Scouts-L Mail Archive for April of 1999: Ramblings on Gestures and Meaningfulness
Ramblings on Gestures and Meaningfulness
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 16:11:56 -0400
It may be too difficult for us to focus on the root causes of Littleton,
CO (of which we still know too little); or of Kosovo; (or even Rwanda
though even there we have several years of perspective).
Life is 168 hours a week, even if Scouting is but �one�. Scouting is
part of the legacy we�ll leave behind, but there should be more.
What we do know is that we have a gut wrenching reaction when these
events occur and offer immediate aid or sympathy and then, for our own
comfort, push the events into the background so that we can deal with
the complexities of our own lives.
We seek out immediate answers to what will make us feel better and hug
our children a bit tighter. And, when such an event happens again we
go through the same rituals. We send flowers, turn on our porch lights,
wear a ribbon, anguish and obsess as we become personally involved in
the televised funerals of people we don�t know.
Think about it from the perspectives of your personal memories, and in
the flickering light of the television tube that brings far-flung events
into our homes. What we do, in the long run, is more important than our
What was the first defining moment you can remember? The bombing of
Pearl Harbor? The liberation of death camps? Hiroshima? The Nuremberg
Trials? The assassinations of President John, or Senator Robert F.,
Kennedy; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr; or, Malcolm X? The Challenger
explosion? The recognition of AIDs as a �personal� threat? The Morrow
building? The death of Princess Di?
If Littleton is a (yet again) wake-up call, let�s consider some of what
we know (or, at least, have heard). These sporadic events (so far)
have occurred in more insular homogeneous communities rather than in
larger heterogeneous communities. The perpetrators apparently felt
alienated, even in the extreme as part of their clique. If people knew
of the specific threat, none told. The daughter of the slain teacher
said he had been discussing intervention with administrators, but the
Principal has said he knew of no problems. The editor of the Columbine
HS newspaper was quoted as saying that there were a lot of unaddressed
tensions, personal ridicule, etc. within the school population. What
more will we learn?
What defines us is what we do after such events. What do we dedicate
ourselves to do, and what we actually do?
Well, we could/should share with our youth that wonderful Scoutmaster�s
Minute written by Torger Nordhus - not just once but, perhaps, annually.
I already drive with my headlights - on all the time - , that�s a
matter of visibility and safety. My children are grown and out of the
home, and I have no grandchildren as yet. But, let me suggest a course
of action for those who do.
Ted Koppel had a town meeting in Jonesboro, Arkansas this week and a
father of five had part of the answer. He thought that the �Trenchcoat
Mafia� (and groups like it) should have had a �faculty sponsor�. What I
inferred was that anytime a group of people disassociate themselves (or
are disassociated) from the whole some guidance and direction is
necessary - for both the �ins� and �outs�.
We should be asking �our� children, and their friends, not only about
how they feel they fit in, but if there are individuals or groups that
they know of who appear not to fit in; or are excluded; or are being
hazed, ridiculed, or disrespected. We should demand of ourselves and
our school administrators, not that we isolate individuals with
differences, but, that inclusion and toleration be coins of the realm.
It is never a time for denial, it is always a time for pro-action. The
road to Hell is, otherwise, paved with good intentions, and meaningless
This has nothing to do whether there are prayers in schools, it has to
do with toleration of differences. This has nothing to do with
Scouting, per se, but it may have to do with the subliminal messages
Scouting sends when it does exclude. It has nothing to do with what
course the ACLU pursues, but whether or not we, as a whole, would be
�better off� if the ACLU (or NAACP, etc.) had not been there over the
past 80 years to fight for legal respect of outcasts. It has nothing to
do with what is accessible on the Internet, but whether the surfer has
the discernment to choose and discard that which is nourishing from the
Last night I viewed �A Man For All Seasons�, and Thomas More hauntingly
asks the question what happens when evil turns upon us after we have cut
down all the laws that protect ourselves and those we disagree with so
that we can get at �them�.