A Truth in Poetry and Song

A Song to Sing1

The New Folk – circa 1977 – Pettie’s Alpine Village, Findlay OH

I’ve learned that love can give, and love can take away.

I’ve learned that it’s not easy to be happy every day.

Xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx

Xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx

Chorus

I’ll leave you this song to sing and a new hope for tomorrow,

Leave you the birds in spring, and a day that’s filled with joy.

And should we meet again, you will know me by my smile.

And we can laugh together for a while (yes we can),

We can laugh together for a while.

So much in life is sadness, there’s sorrow, there is cold.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize there’s no path paved with gold.

But even through the hard times when things are goin’ wrong

I find a simple comfort in this song.

Chorus

I’ve traveled through this land, and people that I meet.

Some are kind, some are wise, others can’t be beat.

No matter where life leaves me, it’s easy to get along,

When everybody helps me sing this song.

Chorus

We’ll leave you a song to sing, and a new hope for tomorrow.

Leave you the birds in spring, and a day that’s filled with joy.

And should we meet again, you will know me by my smile.

And we can laugh together for a while (yes we can),

We can laugh together for a while.

  1. I don’t know what the composers titled the song.  I selected one of the verses as a header only.

Commentary

            I was coming of age in the mid-1970’s.  One of my mentors at the time, Andy Okapal and his wife Mary were (and are) a decade ahead of me in life.  They were in college in the 1960’s and learned the guitar as many did in that era.  They were leaders of the parish folk guitar music group for one of the Sunday morning masses in Findlay Ohio.  Going out to Pettie’s restaurant was one of my first forays into the adult world and they were suitable guardians for the times, meaning my parents trusted them.

            The New Folk group was steady entertainment in the lounge at Pettie’s and the Okapal’s invited me out one evening.  One evening turned into several and the three (or were their others?) of us did a spot in the show once or twice.  It was a heady time for this eighteen-year-old soon heading off to college.  The group’s show always ended with this song and always the patrons were invited to join in.

            Such an impression it made on me; I chose it for my final solo at the year-end high school choral concert.  Andy played the guitar and I sang harmony on a recording prior to the concert.  I did not do what was expected.  I’d been singing for eight years and studying voice for two with the intention of going to college and becoming a musician.  I had a major supporting role in the musical Showboat! only a month earlier.  At the winter concert I sang Impossible Dream from Camelot and Impossible Dream was my audition song at The Ohio State University. A soaring baritone voice in full inspiring tones must have been expected.

            The silence when I finished this simple folk song was immediate and louder than any applause might have been.  A polite round grew and faded.  I’m assured by the reaction described above of the truth of my memory.  As a performer, I know I disappointed.

            Thinking back I know I was on my way to my fated career as a teacher and instructor. I could have ‘wowed’ the crowd, but already I knew I wanted to leave a message that would resonate through the years.  The song is simple.  It is wistful.  I learned a decade sooner from the New Folk exactly what they were experiencing ten years after their own coming of age.  Life isn’t easy.  Peace, Love, and Flower Power were not the means that drive life in the world.  Nor was sadness and pain.  Life falls somewhere in between for most of us. Some suffer severely. Others suffer little. All have their own challenges.

            Forty-four years later I can look back over a life with my high-school sweetheart (The New Folk entertained at our wedding reception) and having been an instructor/teacher/speaker and know the wisdom of the simple poetry of the song.  I still sing with all the lessons and experience gathered through the years.  I haven’t played the guitar since I left the ships and Navy behind.  But every so often I find myself coming back to this song, understanding the simple, if sad wisdom realized by a youth that looked forward to so much.  I am not disappointed.  I do understand better that wisdom today.  And so, I’ll leave you a song to sing…

Timely…and Timeless

Timely when it was written and produced on stage.  Timely when it went to the screen from Hollywood.  Timely again on December 21, 2021.  Timely because it is timeless.  Disney and Spielberg show the current generations what ‘the Greatest’ generation did to work through the problems of race and ethnicity.

polygon.com, vanityfair.com

Arthur Laurents wrote an American Romeo and Juliet story in the streets of New York city.  It went to the stage in that same city, and to the silver screen twice now.  (www.imdb.com/title/tt3581652/) Spielberg’s direction brings a darker and yet brighter view of an eternal struggle each generation must face.  He and Laurents both switch up the conversation from the ‘black vs. white’ to which the news media and politics typically revert.

A new generation of Puerto Rican immigrants find themselves opposed by a second and third generation of Irish and Polish European immigrant families.  Neither is aware of the others’ past family struggles.  School is a point of intersection yet neither seems to learn there that America is a melting pot of both skill and opportunity.

And that is the lesson we all need to learn, the lesson of Emma Watson’s from 1883, the New Colossus. This country was built by the wretched refuse washing up on the teaming shores of our experiment in a democratic republic. The principles of this republic have taken time to develop and spread to all.  The persecuted from the old world made their way to the new.  Those displaced and many dragged over only began to get the full benefits of those principles in the last century.  Some mistakenly believe there is still no justice nor access, while others continue to work to deny anyone but their kind just access.  This will never change.

empire on-line.com

There will always be those who cling to being victims. There will always be those who believe they are better.  The lesson is plainly set to music in the American version of Shakespeare’s tragic love story. The puertoriquenio druggist, the Polish boy, and the Puerto Rican girl believe race doesn’t matter, only the dedication of one to the other.  The world around them believes differently.  Only the boy dies in this American version, while Shakespeare’s Juliet dies as well.

The key is what each character believes in.  The majority chooses not to believe until their beloved is gone.  Three murders, three deaths, then peace.

Every generation has to fight this fight.  Spielberg’s West Side Story shows the generations in the fight.  Since 2018 and before, the melting post boiled over again.  One provokes the other because they don’t believe, and people die, businesses are burned, lives and lively-hoods are lost.  Schools, designed for education are made to socialize instead, and the failure of learning leads to another generation of discontent.

I was only three when JFK was shot. I was five when the Civil Rights Bill was passes and signed.  I was nine when Bobby and MLK were shot and the race riots in Chicago.  I was thirteen when Russel Means and the American Indian Movement took over Wounded Knee.  My parents’ generation fought through the struggle.  I learned to live with everyone as Dr. King suggested, by the content of character.  Then, in the nineteen-nineties Rodney King was assaulted, the riots in South-Central LA pitted ethnic communities against each other.  A trucker was dragged from his vehicle and beaten; stores were burned.  We worked through it. We all used our guiding principles.

‘It’ never stops.  ‘It’ will happen again.  We didn’t handle the last three years well.  We’ll have to learn to do better before it all happens again.  Perhaps if the schools were allowed to teach our Republic’s guiding principles?…  Here’s one reminder to start:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus
November 2, 1883

travel triangle.com

How Hungry Are You?

Or, “How hungry are you willing to let yourself become?”

There were concerns over food shortages at the beginning and a bit in the middle of the last two years.  If everyone has to isolate themselves, then no one can go to work at the food processing facilities.  Truckers aren’t out driving the food shipments.  Grocery stores will have fewer shelves filled with any food, though they are allowed to be open as essential businesses.  There were reports of dairy farmers dumping milk because there was no one to process what they collected (the cows were still producing).

It didn’t take but about two weeks for me to decide to design and build a couple of raised bed gardens for our house.  I knew two important restrictions on me; first, it takes about twenty acres of land to support a self-sustaining farm.  Second, I hadn’t grown a successful garden in Florida in the twenty-five years (broken stretches) we’d lived here.  These garden beds would be an experiment.  The experiment continues.

I let several plants go to seed in the beds just to observe what would happen.  Last fall, I attempted a second ‘crop’ of radishes, carrots, and scallions.  They didn’t fare as well as the August planting, so I left them until yesterday.  What I gleaned from the radishes wasn’t more than weeds.  From the carrots I gained two quarts. 

It’s while cleaning the carrots I gained some insight.  What I was salvaging from the dirt were tiny bits of carrot roots, hardly worth the time I was spending to keep them.  You’ve never seen anything so small in the store and I think any gardener worth their trowel and claw would have pitched them.  It was to keep a promise I committed my time.  The promise was to always keep food on our family table.

I thought of the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Old Testament.  This is the story of a Moabite daughter-in-law committed to supporting her Israelite husband’s widow.  Recall it is from this story we get the dedicated words of “Wherever you go, I will go.  Your people will be my people.” Two important concepts here is that Ruth is a Moabite, a daughter of the ‘other’ side of Abraham’s family and not really welcome in Israel.  Second, these are two women without standing in the community.  There is no man to stand for them, therefore they have no rights or protection. 

It’s Ruth’s dedication to keeping food on their table that came to my own mind.  Ruth had to go to the property owners’ and ask permission to walk through their fields to reap, rather, glean all the remnants of vegetables and grain available after the harvest.  That meant walking through the dirt and the mud with a basket, day after day, hoping to find a head of wheat, a potato too small, or carrot roots too tiny to be worth the Master’s workers’ attention. 

So, here I am, gleaning tiny shoots of carrot root from the dirt clinging to the hair strands of root about them, reminding myself of the days when I was that hungry, and remembering the promise I made to my family to keep food on their table.  Thanks be to God it is only an experiment.  And thanks be to God for the lesson born of the effort.

Globalism Policies Tested

The concept of globalization is to tie the world countries into reliant economies so as to make war obsolete; that each country is so reliant on another that no one country would attack another.

That theory is now being tested; except the belligerent in this case remains independent, able to provide for itself.

China is also so capable.

Look who has demonstrated in the last two years that it is not self-reliant: the United States, now importing oil from Russian and IC chips from China; Germany, now reliant on Russia for natural gas (Nord stream I), and much of Europe on Russian oil.

League of Nations, United Nations, TriLateral Commission, Davos Economic Forum; all these world business globalists can go from country to country at will to live the luxury they desire. The common laborer suffers the failure of the globalists’ policies and efforts.

Nationalism has its place, whether a Russian ‘monarchy’ or our Western Republic, we choose our own organization and fend for ourselves. President Biden and his supporters (beyond the Democrat party) and President Trump and his supporters understood this.

The ‘game’ has changed and the globalists’ policy is being tested. So far, its failing.

What if the ‘Game’ has Changed?

To ‘win’ a game, one has to know 2 things:

1. What game are we playing?

2. What are the rules?

Many of us in this country are fighting for Constitutionalism; let’s follow those ‘rules’ that have worked so well. Others against, “do what you want no matter what” (simplified, yes) This is ‘nationalism’ according to our ‘rules’.

Some know the game is changed. International corps and globalists know the game is now to integrate the world’s business and civil control. HR policies, monetary policies, how wealth is distributed to the masses… These integrate the world across national boundaries. There are no REAL national boundaries, only those in the servers controlling the 1’s and 0’s. This includes our current and several former administrations, of both major parties.

What if the current war in Ukraine is about this ‘new’ game? What if Mr. Putin is working to allow his government to control their country (nationalism) and culture? What if Ukraine is doing the same? Only, Ukraine has been being drawn into the globalist side (NATO and the West)

What if China is only protecting its territory and culture?

The game is now the globalists vs nationalists. Watch current events and decide for yourselves…. who’s controlling money and monetary policies? who’s controlling corporate HR? Do you think Coca-cola Russian has stopped bottling Coke? Has FB shut down ALL access in Russia? Has the U.S. government (NASA) stopped its contracts for Russian rocket engines? Why is Germany still buying Russian gas? Why is the U.S. still buying Russian crude oil?

We will see if global economic pressures have strong enough strings to ‘rein in’ the Russian Bear. Remember, Cuba survived without Western economics since 1959.

For our part, many of us recognized this in 2016. We worked for, promoted, and elected Donald J. Trump to be our President. We knew something was changed in Washington and we sensed the loss of our own government’s control of our nation. We wanted it restored. We still do, whether Mr. Trump is the vehicle for that or another will stand in and further his efforts.

Mr. Biden is a globalist. Mr. Obama either knew or learned he would be a globalist. Mr. Bush, the Clintons, Bush 41, these people are all globalists. The money pouring into the coffers of these political leaders comes from around the world, and upon completion of their offices, they are welcomed into the globalist ‘party’ called the Tri-Lateral Commission. Mr. Trump is not a globalist. The 2020 Presidential campaign was about removing him for the damage he was doing to the globalist agenda.

This is not about a President Trump or a President Biden, nor any other leader. This is about ‘the game’. We continue to have much of our freedom in this country. It’s worth the time and effort to review my comments here and make a judgement. Consider the following if you decide to pursue further consideration:

  • why was the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to America’s Gulf Coast shut down (never mind how) and the Nordstream II Gas pipeline from Russian to Germany ‘approved’ by our current President, Mr. Biden? Ask also, “Why does an American President even have a say about a Russia – Germany pipeline?”
  • Why is there a push to move from hard currencies based on national GDP’s to electronic currencies that have no national banking? Ask again, why did countries move from the ‘gold standard’ to ‘GDP’ standards?
  • How is it CEO’s and financiers make international corporate policies in Davos, Switzerland each year and those corporate policies become so in all countries where these businesses do their work?
  • What is an ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance score) and why is it going to affect personal and business credit in the near future? Are personal investments already affected?

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trilateral-Commission

https://www.amazon.com/Great-Reset-Biden-Twenty-First-Century-Fascism/dp/B09RRNW7XF/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=glenn+beck+books&qid=1646240720&s=books&sr=1-1

What Do You Believe? Epithets With An Historical Significance

100 years ago, during the Great European Migration, eugenicists wanted to manipulate human reproduction to create a ‘master race’. Hitler tried it.

People flooded to our borders. The Whops, the Pollocks, the Micks, some Kykes, the Huns… all flooded to the United States….

Earlier on, the Chinks came over from Asia, we conquered the Spics, and according to some, we initially designed everything to enslave the Coons and (*other slurs) since before the Pilgrims came….

These United States are a racist group of White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASPs) men just working to control the world. All the rioting, the political correctness, the kneeling before the Flag, it’s all justified, including the ‘Racism of the Emoji’s” (NPR week of Feb 7).

If you believe that, tell it to these people….

Tell it to the men settling Jamestown in 1607, and the Pilgrims of 1620; they both lost more than half their expeditions in the first year… tell it to those of Roanoke Island, if you can find where they went.

Tell it to the ‘Yankees’ of New England and New York, who were forced to house and feed the British soldiers, whose taxes were expanded to fight the British wars in Europe, to the farmers whose stores were confiscated…

Tell it to the family of Crispus Attucks, the first American killed in the Boston Massacre (he was Black, bye-the-way)…

Tell it to the people of Baltimore, free, slave, and indentured servants who defended the city in Sept 1813 against a British invasion that included German mercenaries…

Tell it to Harriet Tubman, who found shelter in the northern states while President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation…

Tell it to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment… (someone made a movie about them, didn’t they?)

Tell it to the pioneers that build cattle ranches and farms across the west, and the surviving family farmers of today…

Tell it to those immigrants from 100 years ago, and those from 150 years ago, whose sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters went back to their homelands to fight against fascism and tyranny… 4 million of them never came home.

Tell it to the Navajo Code Talkers…

Tell it to Rosa Parks.  Tell her and her family the sacrifices were all for naught, that black women would never be allowed to sit beyond the middle of the bus…  tell that to Felicia Rashad, Oprah Winfrey, and Kamala Harris.

Tell it to the People of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and every other U.S. city that has suffered violence, generation after generation,….

Tell it to the millions who cross our borders every single month, “

Mr. Soros and his peers would have us pitted against each other to tear down our heritage and change our history to remake it in their own image and likeness.

Will you let them succeed?

The fight for the experiment of 1776 continues.  The battlefield is in and for the hearts and minds of the “We the People…”.  The assaults are at the ballot box, in the advertisements across broadcast and social media, the school board meetings, and the town council meetings.

We’re not perfect.  That is a truth about experiments.  We can still be family.  We cannot erase our past, as many have tried to do recently.  It remains and will be expressed truthfully again.  It’s been facing our past and working together to change our future that has made the experiment work.

Will you fight for or against the Constitution that creates the system of  laws we all live under?  Will you defend what millions who don’t live here believe in more than millions of those who quit believing?  If so, arm yourself, starting with these tools below. 

Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Gettysburg Address, President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, MLK I Have a Dream: The American Civil Religion

https://billofrightsinstitute.org/curricula/documents-of-freedom?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_cumnID49QIVAZSGCh1ylwR4EAAYASAAEgI1c_D_BwE

And, if you’ve a mind and choose, these used to be the most prominently read books in literate households across the nation as it was built and expanded.  A common philosophy is present in all these for a diverse people that supports the American Civil Religion;

The Torah

https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htmhe

The Bible

https://bible.usccb.org/bible  -or-

https://www.biblegateway.com/

And should you desire, there are more contributions;

Buddhism:  The Four Noble Truths: All of life is about suffering.  Suffering is caused by desires. Suffering is eliminated by eliminating desire. There is a path that removes desire.  Learn of the Eightfold Path…

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/buddhism/#:~:text=Buddhism%20is%20one%20of%20the,Religion%2C%20Social%20Studies%2C%20Storytelling

Qur’an: the sutras read like the Psalms.  Don’t let the fascism of radicals dissuade you from learning.

Why DIDN’T He Pass Them By?

A few weeks back the scripture for daily mass was Mk 6:45-52, Jesus walking on the water. A question was prompted by the homilist and I decided to see where answering it might lead me. There is a management lesson here, yes, management by Jesus, if you will.

It’s a question that never occurred to me.  Then I heard a sermon by my Pastor where he posed it.  Just why in the name of God would Jesus walk past his men when they were in trouble?  Let’s look at this situation and try to ignore that Jesus was walking on water, in a storm, past the boat his men were in.  The miraculous part of the story has been debated and discussed for over two-thousand years.  Let’s look at the practical question posed by my Pastor.            Bye-the-way, Matthew (Ch 14) and John (Ch 6) both eliminate Mk vs 48 and Luke only uses the calming of the storm story.  All four Evangelists include that there was a storm of some sort and the Twelve were having trouble with their boat. Here is the text in Mark’s account. 

photo credit: https://www.gcumm.org/news/why-did-jesus-walk-on-water/

The Walking On Water. 45Then he made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  46And when he had taken leave of them he went off to the mountain to pray.  47When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.  48Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them.  About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. 49But when saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost and cried out.  50They had all seen him and were terrified. But as once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 51He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely]astounded. 52They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hears were hardened.

            It’s that last line of verse forty-eight that seems so odd. Why would Jesus intend to pass by the Apostles? And, it raises another question as well.  Why wasn’t he in the boat with them in the first place?  It’s in pursuing the answer to this second question that I think answers the first.  Let’s think about this as if we are leaders, manager, or more commonly, as parents.  And let’s look at the preceding story in Mark for overall context of why Jesus might choose to send the Twelve off and follow them later.

            Mark records some trying events for any one in his chapter six.  Jesus had returned to Nazareth, where he grew up and knew most of the people, just as most of them in this small craftsman’s village knew him.  He reveals himself as the Messiah and these people, the very one’s who’d known him all his life, rejected the idea outright.  They even tried to stone him to death, all his childhood friends and mentors.  [Another question to discuss, what did this do to Mary’s standing in the village?]

            Jesus has shown the disciples what rejection they are likely to face, and sends them out to do what he’s been doing.  It’s their first test of what he has taught them.  “They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick, and cured them”(Mk 6:13).  They were busy.

            Meanwhile, Jesus, apparently alone, finds out his cousin John has been executed by the king in Jerusalem.  Beheaded for preaching to the king about the marriage laws of Judaism. Here was John preaching repentance, and Jesus doing the same, and John loses his life for it.  Jesus is in Galilee under Phillip’s authority, rather than Herod.  But news travels fast and how one brother maintains order is likely to be close to how the other does.

            No time to mourn, the Twelve are back from their mission.  Conversation about their encounters is implied broad terms, and we should infer that Jesus recognized they were tired and needed rest.  He invites them to go into the hills and rest, but as they do the people follow them.  So they get into a boat to row away, but the people follow on the shoreline.

            Passover is coming. Being dutiful as a Jew Jesus and the Twelve will be going to Jerusalem.  So are all these people following them.  The Apostles need rest. Maybe Herod will have to be faced sooner than later.  The crowds are pressing in. Mark records that crowds begin to approach Jesus and gather ‘round him.  Jesus remains compassionate. This is where he gathers them in and feeds some five-thousand people with two loaves and a couple of fish.

            Are you tired yet?  I’m tired and there’s still the point of the question to discuss.  If you’re not tired, you’ve never had so much to do. Preaching the Kingdom, making dinner for five thousand, mentoring twelve diverse men in the details, rejected by his own village, and potentially threatened by the King while mourning the death of his cousin.  Can we get this man a break?

            I find it no wonder that Jesus sent the Twelve off in a boat without him.  They needed a break and so did he.  All leaders do, whether they are managing a huge corporation or managing their huge family (of two, or five, or eight, or….).  He just needed a break.  The Apostles get away to what most of them came from, boating on the lake.  Jesus disperses the crowds and then goes to the hills to rest and pray before he moves to catch up with the Twelve.  Let’s take a break!

            I imagine that Jesus was deep in thought and/or prayer when he got up from his rest and began the trip to Gennesaret where he and the Twelve were to meet.  Who knows if he, being God, just walked out from the beach without even realizing he was walking on the water while he was working through the next phase of the mission?  If the Twelve hadn’t shouted out to him he might not even have thought of them until he got to the other side and began looking for the boat.  The Man was tired, even if God wasn’t.  Mark’s account says he intended to pass them by. Jesus was still working things out for the next phase.

            When they called out, why didn’t he just keep going?  Well, he put them there, didn’t he?  He told them to get in the boat.  He told them to get onto the lake.  He set up the condition for them to be in a storm on the lake.  And they were over their heads in a storm.  They needed some help… right now.

            I’ve typed a lot of characters to get to the lesson Mark sets up for us.  It’s a leadership lesson for all of us, whether we are professional managers, volunteer leaders, or parents working with their kids.  We need to be aware of the work we leave our people to do, and that their calls for assistance may be due to the situational changes they encounter.  They may end up ‘in over their heads’ not for lack of preparation but for unforeseen events and issues.  As I mentioned, several of the Apostles were fishermen who spent their lives on this lake.  They would have, should have looked at the weather before shoving off.  Peter, in particular, being a ship’s captain, would have done this just as a matter of course.  Nonetheless, there they were in a storm they were having trouble handling.

            So pay attention to your people’s situations.  Take time to check with them on some routine basis.  Let them know you’re there to support them, and help them through, as necessary.  Listen to them.  If you manage your people, your children, they’ll produce great things.  Don’t just pass them by.

Scouting and Culture – How We Pass On Our Virtues

            I spent some time over Christmas going through my Scouting memories.  I opened the box from the attic and pulled out items from my father’s time in the early 1940’s, my own in the 1970’s, my son’s from the 1990’s.  Dad passed me some of his merit badges and his shoulder patches for his town (Tiffin OH) and troop number (44).  I kept similar items (Findlay OH, Troop 319), and for my son I have his Webelo’s Den (3) and the Tidewater VA council patch.  There are neckerchief slides to go with a dozen neckerchiefs, some Order of the Arrow sashes, and a backpack and canteen from dad’s era and my own.  These are tangible items I’m working to pass down to a nephew and a granddaughter.

            The tangible items represent a culture of character building that now stretches over eighty years.  One might expect that within a family it is a natural course of events to involve the new generation in the ways of the older generations in order to pass on cultural values.  So let me illustrate first the broader effect on our own culture. 

            I was an Equal Opportunity instructor in the Navy, aboard the USS Enterprise, in the last four years of the 1990’s.  This was a cultural ‘equalizing’ class mandated by the Navy following the 1964 Equal Rights Amendment.  The post-deployment class required presentation to over one-hundred new sailors reporting to the ship. I began simply by commenting that I was about to repeat an oath and anyone recognizing this oath should stand and join me as they recognized it.  I began, “On my honor…” and two sailors stood.  “…I will do my best…” and a few more stood.  As I finished “…physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” there were more than twenty-five sailors standing, fully one quarter of the class.  Now, even given all the known demographics, 25% is more than a fair quantity of cultural transmission.

            Imagine now my reaction as I reviewed the Scout Handbooks I’d gathered through the years.  I have the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Twelfth Editions.  These represent my own time in the ‘70’s, my son’s, and one of my grandson’s.  The Twelfth Edition is the 100th Anniversary edition for Scouting in 2008, printed in 2009.  It’s important to remember now that Scouting suffered through the same difficulties of pedophilia as the rest of society in the 1980’s and 90’s.  It’s also important to know that the cultural changes of family evolved such that mother’s became Boy Scout leaders, that Scouting struggled with the LGBT community to allow access to the organization for both youth and leaders, and that corporate pressures were brought to bear in the form of withholding donations, making the Board of Directors of Scouting take actions to maintain the organization while continuing to move forward.  Finally, and notably, as Scouting moved into a family-friendly format, girls are now welcome in Scout troops from Cubs through Explorer and Venture (these last two programs were begun in the 1970s). I bring these events back to mind to make a point about one of the changes, one that diminishes the cultural formation of youth and accompanying adults through the program.  The cultural issues presented above are not in discussion here.

            Something happened through the transitions that diminished the values taught through Scouting.  The Handbook illustrates this change;

            Seventh Edition – 13 pages are dedicated to the discussion of the Scout Law

            Eighth Edition, Ninth Edition – 11 pages are dedicated to the discussion of the Scout Law

            Twelfth Edition – 2 pages are dedicated to the discussion of the Scout Law.

The same comparison can be made to the section on the flag of the United States.  Another example is the space afforded the explanation of the Scout symbol.  One final example is simply the font used to print the book.  Twelfth Edition font is so much smaller than the other three.  What fifth grader will take time to squint to read something (and no, my curious readers, this is not due to the weakening eyes of this grandfather)  Of course, the book is likely digital now and every entrepreneurial Scout, Scout Master, District probably has its own website for all this along with the ‘apps’ for mobile devices.

            The point remains ‘real estate’ space given to the explanation of the cultural virtues intended to be passed on.  Struggling through the real-life culture challenges those virtues that are supposed to see us through these changes, these ‘light houses’ of guidance have been dimmed.  Just when we all needed them most, the work of Lord Baden Powell to build a program for youth based on Knightly principles has been scattered throughout the Scout’s manual instead of being collected in a core foundation story to be read and shared.

            I always ask my readers to take some sort of action.  Provided here is one detailed explanation of the Scout Oath as I learned it and practiced it over my lifetime.  I encourage those reading to pass this on to their youth, or similarly based virtues as were learned in your own youth and programs.  The Girl Scouts’ Oath of the same era is similar to below.  Camp Fire Girls, American Heritage Boys/Girls, Knights of Columbus Squires, and many more programs share these common values. Below is a letter I am sending with my memories. I hope you will read it with the intent of sharing your experience with these virtues.

            I learned many things that are important to me in Scouting and I think they are important to you already.  I would like to tell you about the Scout Oath, something so important that the friends I made in Scouts are still close friends of mine today because of these words:

On My Honor

I will do my best to do my duty

To God

And to my Country

To obey the Scout Law

To help other people at all times

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

On My Honor – your honor is your word, your promise.  It is how people will come to know just who you are.  The things you do will be known to other people, especially your friends as soon as they hear your name.

I will do my best to do my duty – duty is what we owe to our community, how we get along with others and whether we follow a set of rules or don’t follow any rules.  People will know this when they hear your name too.  You will make mistakes in your life and you will have successes.  Doing your best means you will always try to follow this Oath.

Duty to God –  I trust you have been reading the Bible at home and at school.   When a Scout gives his honor to God you already know there are things you must do.  And you are old enough to learn these things for yourself.  You still need your Mom and Dad and other adults, like all your Aunts and Uncles, and your Scout Master to help you learn them better.  Your duty to God includes some things in the Bible you should read with these people:  The Ten Commandments in Exodus Chapter 20.  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  These will tell you to love and worship God and to be good and obey your parents.  Please take time to read these chapters in the Bible with your Mom and Dad.

Duty to your Country – We live in a big country with a lot of people.  Our country has laws that come from our duty to God.  Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution tell people why we formed our Country.  You will spend time in school learning about these.  Scouts begin learning of our country by working on Citizenship Merit Badges; Community, Nation, and World.  Duty to Country include why your Mom and Dad read the news and vote in elections.  Sometimes it means joining the military or other community volunteer projects. The Citizenship Merit Badges will help you learn more about these things.

To obey the Scout Law – Lord Baden Powell, the man who created Scouting, and Dan Beard, the man who helped form Scouting in America, both knew there are ideas important to doing your duty.  These are called Virtues.  They are in the Bible too.  The Scout Law is about these twelve Virtues;

Trustworthy               Loyal              Helpful           Friendly          Courteous       Kind

Obedient                     Cheerful          Thrifty            Brave            Clean               Reverent

These Virtues are the foundation of good character.  When you learn about these with your friends it will make you closer friends and a stronger troop.  When people hear your name they will think “He’s a Scout” and they will expect and know how you act and what you do because of the Scout Law.

To help other people at all times – Its always easy to help friends, isn’t it?  Is it easy to always help your Mom?  Your Dad? Around the house?  At school? What about people who aren’t your friends?  In the Bible, read the story about the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10.  When you follow the first parts of this Scout Oath, you will always be able to keep this part.

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight – This last part of the Oath is a reminder that you belong to God.  God made you with a body, a mind, and a spirit. Work to keep your body as strong as you can so you can do the work this Oath requires.  Keep your mind strong with the Virtues of this Oath so you will always have a light, a guide to make good decisions by.  And keep yourself morally straight with those same Virtues, that you bring yourself and others to God in heaven. 

            This is Scouting.  All the things you do with your friends, the games, the campouts, the adventures to new places, the Merit Badges… these are about exploring the world around you while you learn to live by the Oath and Law.  Today, you want to have fun and do exciting things with your friends.  I hope you will keep doing these things.  Some friends may leave the troop.  Other people will come into the troop.  You will make new friends with them.  Teach them the Oath and Law by how you treat them and live when you are not with the troop.

I love you.

            Plainly, I come from a Christian background.  Scouting having gone world-wide; my cultural reference is different from others.  What remains the same, and what allows Scouting to be a world-wide success is that the virtues of the Oath and Law resonate within many other cultures as well.  Where I suggest Christian scripture to illustrate, someone else may include stories from the Mahabharata, the Torah, Qu’ran, or Confucius.  Still others may prefer to use Plato’s Republic or other resource to exemplify the Scouting virtues in one’s own culture.  The most important action is to sit routinely with your youth and share stories.  The age of Scouting is roughly three years, age 11 through 13, before high school and other activities pull youth away from the program to other interests they develop.  And rightly so, for the merit badge program is intended to do just that; allow them to find and develop their own skills and ‘Explore’ where those skills take them.  Here, we want them to take the virtues of our culture with them.  To this end I commend you for your efforts.

Be Prepared!

Covid, Social Unrest, War, Disease – A Perspective

“Let those who have read their history remember how long were the wars waged by Rome in the past, and with what diverse fortunes and grievous disaster they were attended; for the world is liable to be tempest-tossed by such misfortunes, like a storm-swept sea. Let them acknowledge the facts, even if it goes against the grain, and let them stop destroying themselves by crazy insults against God, and refrain from deceiving the ignorant.” (Augustine. City of God. V.22. H. Bettenson Trans.)

It seems appropriate to me, meaning an inkling of inspiration, to raise to minds the presence of the wisdom from this historical bishop and philosopher to the minds of today. Our present society appears to choose more ‘modern’ philosophies born of the last two centuries, philosophies that place the human mind above the mind and design of the Creator God of Judeo-Christian culture. Consequently, leaders lack the vision of the ages in the current ‘crisis’ of disease that spans the world and social unrest detaches the people further and further from that which would sustain them; a foundation in Virtue as a guide for eternal life, rather than pleasure as an escape from pain in this finite life.

Augustine’s work is a series of short essays (a great many essays). These few in Book V (20 – 22) he uses to describe how Virtue is abused by those who seek to put Virtue at the service of Pleasure and Glory. Pleasure makes slaves of Virtue and Glory prevents their exercise. He closes the essay stating how the Virtues are for a person to look into his/her selves and find what is lacking according to Truth. God is to be praised for the character flaws mended and implored for aid in continuing to heal those flaws remaining.

Of course, a Doctor of the Catholic Church would remand us to such action with his use of Greek philosophy to describe Virtue. If this one Doctor, this one writer was a sole waypoint of thought he could easily be dismissed. However, Augustine is one of many such waypoints of thought in the course of human development. Thomas Aquinas would echo the same ideas in the twelfth century, Thomas Moore, and Thomas Beckett beyond him, from England, St. John of the Cross from Spain, and in our own time, a Polish Pope reminds us of this same thread of Virtue and Truth. St. Pope John Paul II reminds us in Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth)) of this same Truth and calls us back to them, back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

War and disease have not left the human race. War and disease are tests/trials for humanity to work through. It is intended that we work through them together in every generation. There exists a common Truth for us to use as a guide. It is our responsibility to present that Truth to each subsequent generation without deception. It is time for this generation to re-learn that Truth and abandon those philosophies of human-making. We can only come together after we have joined under Truth.