About a month ago, I signed up to be the leader of my son’s cub scout den. I was a scout when I was a kid and I have a lot of good memories of my time in the scouts. It was a lot of fun learning how to go camping and spend time in the outdoors with my friends. My son risked not getting to have that experience if I hadn’t volunteered to be a leader. I really didn’t want that to happen so, I added a new responsibility to my life. So far, it’s been a lot of fun for the kids and I’ve enjoyed it too. We had our second meeting tonight and all of the kids were able to learn what they needed to in order to get their first badge at our big meeting later this month. After they had proven themselves at being able to say and do everything they needed to get the badge, we went to a show at the kid’s school where they were showing off some awesome wild animals. It was a lot more fun for the boys than anything I would have been able to do with them so it worked out well for everyone.
As much fun as scouts was for me as a kid and as much fun as my son is having in it with his friends I do find myself torn in a few areas when it comes to scouting. First, the scouts stance on homosexuality is one that I find to be unacceptable. With the cub scouts it isn’t a big deal because they’re so young but as they get older, I’m not sure if I will want my son to continue with the program once he’s old enough to understand what the scout’s views on homosexuality is. Secondly, their insistence on accepting certain religious positions is also problematic for me as I really don’t agree with where they’re coming from. This isn’t a very big deal here in Maine but there are other places where it is a big deal and I know that I would not be allowed to be in a leadership position there. Once again, my son is still young enough that he’s not concerned with these issues and it’s all about being with his friends and having fun. I’m not about to prevent him from doing that. Plus, I figure if I’m the leader I’m going to have a strong influence on what he gets exposed to and how things are presented to him and the other boys when it is time to have to cover some of this information.
Even though some of these things are difficult for me on a personal level, I am happy to be a part of this organization. Even though there are a few things that I don’t agree with, the fact is they do some good work in the community and they do a good job at helping the kids to learn things that they may not get the opportunity to know otherwise. It’s a lot of fun for the boys and I enjoy spending time with these kids and working with them. I’m putting their needs and desires in front of my own concerns or issues. That’s the least I can do and it’s good for me to do it. I believe in diversity and that means that people of all backgrounds and lifestyles and beliefs should be treated with the respect due to a human being. When the time comes for my son to learn about the things that I may not like about scouting, he will also be able to learn a lot about what respecting others and their views means. I’m leading by example and I hope that this will be a much more valuable lesson for him than anything else I can teach him. It’s not good enough for me to just talk about diversity, this is me putting diversity into action. Sure the scouts at a national level are a homophobic and overtly religious group that preaches god and state above all else but here in America they can do that. Getting along with others is messy. It’s contentious and can often be full of strife and pain. No matter what we feel about it though, it’s all we’ve got to go on. We’re all in this together and we’re all a part of one big nation of diverse opinions, thoughts, feelings and priorities. Living together the way that we do is no small feat. If I can teach my kids that (both my own two and all of the scouts in the den) then this time will be worth it. A lot of people have said that diversity is necessary, but I’ve never heard anyone say it’s easy.