Boy Scouts: a century of promoting virtue
Scouting does so much more than teach boys how to tie knots. It sets a strong foundation for peace in the world.
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Once, when mediating a case in chambers, the defendant told Judge Coulson he thought they could settle the case without the lawyers. He said, “Your Honor, I see you have a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook. I’m an old Scout myself. I bet if we use the Scout Oath and Law, we can come to a fair result in this dispute.”Skip to next paragraph
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They settled that afternoon.
This is Scouting. This is way the world could be.
Because the Scout Oath and Law enunciate principles common to all religions and cultures, it is a common bond among peoples throughout the world that promotes peace. Nearly every country on earth has Scouting.
For years, Scouting associations from several Arab nations pressed the World Organization of the Scout Movement to grant membership to the Palestinian Scout Association; the rule that member groups must represent a sovereign country kept it out. The issue was a principal topic of conversation at the World Organization’s 1996 meeting and, by the time of the closing session, everyone expected a vote on the question.
Morris Zilka was the delegate of the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation, an umbrella organization representing the Scout associations of many religions. Delegates from countries friendly to Israel asked Morris how they could help. Morris said, “Let’s just see what happens.”
During the session, secretary-general Jacques Moreillon discussed membership for the Palestinian association. He spoke of the challenges of providing Scouting for Palestinian youth, and how hard Palestinian Scout leaders had worked to do so. He called upon Morris to speak to the issue.
Morris began in Arabic, addressing himself to “My brother and sister Scout leaders” and made some preliminary remarks. He continued, “Mr. Chairman, the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation moves for the immediate recognition of the Palestinian Scout Association as a member of the World Organization.” After an ovation, the resolution was voted upon, and passed.
This is Scouting, a program that teaches children to care for the Earth and the people who live together on it. This is the way the world could be. We must support its important work into its second century.
Nelson R. Block co-chaired the 2008 Johns Hopkins University program, “Scouting: A Centennial History Symposium,” and co-edited the recently published book “Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century.”