At about 10 years of age Cub Scouts enter into a pact summed up by the acronym WEBELOS which unpacked stands for We’ll Be Loyal Scouts. Fourth grade boys work toward a Webelos Badge, while Fifth Graders work toward what’s called an Arrow of Light badge. These older Scouts carry the responsibility of being good role models to the younger Cub Scouts. The seven rays of the highly symbolic Arrow of Light represent wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, faith, hope, and love.
In Hong Kong, the Brownie Promise contains the words I will promise to do my best, – To be true to myself, – To my God, and my country. In Singapore they say I promise to do my best, – To do my duty to God, – To serve my country, – And to help other people, and to Keep the Brownie Law.
In Canada the girls will say: I promise to do my best, To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada, I will take action for a better world. In that country an earlier promise contained the line I promise that I will do my best to love God. In the United Kingdom the girls say: I promise that I will do my best – To be true to myself and develop my beliefs, To serve the Queen and my community. Before September in 2013 they said I promise that I will do my best To love my god. . .
In the USA the Girl Scouts still recite the pledge: On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times. . . And the Boy Scout Oath includes: On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
What is it about the concept of God that causes Canada and the UK to remove it from their scout promises? Could it be that they want to be seen as somehow politically and properly amoral? Are they simply acting in accordance with some secularization hypothesis? Or does God have no place in their common understanding of what constitutes social progress?
The very first ray, in the Cub Scout’s Arrow of Light, is wisdom. Is it possible to have wisdom, in any meaningful form, that is divorced from the First Source and Center of all that is real? Are those scout programs, that emphasize a promise to be loyal, betraying the foundational principles of their respective organizations? Whatever became of the “good role models” that are to lead by example?
In the story of Job, God asked: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without wisdom?” There is something clearly unattractive about a lack of appreciation. Life is a gift. Mind is an endowment. Health is, first and foremost, predicated upon harmonious relationships, whether they occur within the physical body or socially, throughout a greater humanity. To keep one’s self physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight is a challenge at all stages of growth. To serve the community is largely dependent upon such physical, mental, and moral health.
How can any organization advance wisdom without an understanding of these foundational principles? What is the value of a leader that is not mindful of humanity’s ultimate destination. Children need to know that the best that can be achieved with a hazy goal is likely to be a hazy result. The adults within their respective spheres of influence also need to understand these principles if they are to serve as effective leaders.
People in the know see the tremendous potential of power in the store of wisdom as it continues to reside and repose in the central personality of our universe. Religion is to values what science is to facts and what philosophy is to meanings. Scouting organizations can and should debate these things without framing the questions in such a way as to squelch honest introspection.
Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” And, while it may seem there is a God shaped void within those who fail to recognize the Author and Finisher of our faith, He still resides at that nexus of the mind and heart. Intellectual balance is trifurcated. Accordingly, it is wholly dependent upon the recognition of that holistic intersection that exists between the things, meanings, and values that inform our spiritual growth.
Scouting is truth seeking. And the truth never suffers from close examination. If those in the secularist movement are confident they are right, they would welcome such an open and honest discussion. If those in the faith movement represent more than a thin veneer of religiosity, they will faithfully represent the seven rays; the wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, faith, hope, and love that are arrayed as the Arrow of Light takes flight within the lives of scouts at all stages of maturity.