by Larry P. Johnson
Reprinted from “The San Antonio Express-News,” June 1, 2019.
(Editor’s Note: Larry P. Johnson is an author and motivational speaker. He is available for luncheon talks or workshop presentations. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at www.mexicobytouch.com.)
Some 70 years ago, I was a Boy Scout back in Chicago. It was a troop comprised entirely of blind and visually impaired Scouts — Troop 300. Even our scoutmaster was visually impaired. I loved the camaraderie, learning Morse code and first aid, and the two-week summer camp in the Wisconsin woods.
I memorized and still remember the Scout Oath and the 12 Scout Laws. “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” That was a lot for a boy to live up to, and it still is today. But those are the rules and guidelines that we, as a society, understand are necessary for normal human relations.
As we get ready to listen to the promises and pledges of the scores of political candidates running for elected office, I am wondering just how many of them — male or female — might past the test of endorsing and upholding even half of these principles.
Clarke Green, director at Camp Horseshoe, a Scout camp in Kennet Square, Pa., and a scoutmaster for over 30 years, writes that although all 12 laws are equally important, four are the very “heart of the law” because they “define the basics of how we interact with each other.” These are: helpful, friendly, courteous, kind.
A Scout is helpful — he cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
A Scout is friendly — a friend to all. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.
A Scout is courteous — polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
A Scout is kind. He treats others as he wants to be treated.
This is a great set of core values to live by. I would add one more to Green’s short list — trustworthy. To quote from the website BoyScoutTrail.com, “A Scout is trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.” The words “on my honor,” from the Scout Oath, are tremendously important to a Scout because his “honor” is what he holds up to scrutiny to ensure that he can be trusted.
May we not ask — no, demand — of all candidates running for public office that they pledge their commitment to uphold these principles? To really care about and respect other people even if their beliefs and customs are different from theirs, that they be civil and courteous in their discourse and manner toward those with whom they may disagree, and that they treat others as they themselves would want to be treated and, above all, that they speak to us with honesty and truth?
If those whom we elect at the local, state and national levels possess these qualities and follow these principles, good policies and good legislation will follow. Whether it’s health care, immigration, climate change, education or jobs, the answers and solutions can be found if we are careful to choose leaders who are willing to trust one another and be respectful of the ideas and opinions of their colleagues and, most importantly, who care deeply not only about the issues but about the people whose lives will be impacted by the decisions that they make.
And that’s how I see it.