[Note, these thoughts are mine and don’t necessarily represent the views of any Scouting organization directly, just my interpretation. It is important that all Scouts contemplate the importance of inclusivity and diversity themselves and make up their own minds about this issue. If you think your views might inspire others, you might want to share as I have. If you’d rather express your views privately to your Rover Scout Leader, you are most welcome to do that. I hope my comments are helpful as just one person’s perspective who’s had a bit of experience along the Way.]
Good day, fellow Brother & Sister Rovers! I'm writing here to publicly express my views about inclusivity and Scouting. As many of you know, traditional Scouting was founded originally in 1970 in England as a reaction to Scouting becoming less like the vision of its founder, Robert Baden-Powell. B-P envisioned Scouting to be "cheerful service in the open air" and worked hard to promote international understanding and Brotherhood/Sisterhood, himself traveling often to develop Scouting in less developed nations and promoting many World Jamborees. By the 1960s, over 20 years after his death, Scouting had changed, with many countries like the US shifting their focus inwards away from other nations (not hosting a World Jambo from 1967 to 2019!) and with the program becoming more indoor-oriented in many ways around corporate leadership models, with Scouts becoming a far less vital force in their communities than years past. By the time traditional Scouting made its way to the US in the early 2000s, it was fueled by the struggle BSA and GSA were having with inclusivity, barring members of other genders, non-mainstream sexual preferences, and non-mainstream religious views. It seemed like these organizations were moving at a snail's pace to keep up with changes in the world. Fortunately, traditional Scouting helped lead the way, modeling inclusivity from its origins here.
I personally am proud to be a part of Scouting organizations--such as the Rovering 4 Life Association, the International Scout Fellowship, and the World Federation of Independent Scouts--that aim towards minimizing bias and prejudice of any kind and teaches Scouts how to think more openly and naturally (as they would if they were not brainwashed) about those who are different than they are (which is everyone, really). Truly, we are all different. I like to say there are as many religions or spiritualities as there are people in the world. No one face is alike. There are many, many shades of skin tone, all of them a version of brown...ditto with hair color. Each gender is beautiful and powerful in its own right and brings gifts and strengths that the “other” gender needs to recognize and admire with gratitude, rather than either trying to control the other or make the other more like them. And then there are those who are “in-between,” who have a balance of male and female energy, or who feel more masculine but have a woman’s body or the reverse. There is so much wondrous variety in our world...and it is BY DESIGN. Look around. There are 1000s of species you don’t even realize exist...in the depths of the ocean...in the depths of rain forests. So many options, so many varieties...and all serve to move our world forward in its glorious evolution.
Why do so many hate what they don’t understand? What is different from themselves (again, which is everything else that is not them, ultimately)? Fear and ignorance come from a lack of understanding, a lack of experience, a lack of empathy, a lack of positive role models, a lack of love and support while growing up. These are also spread by the small minority holding power over the majority, as a way to throw them off the scent of how their happiness and prosperity are being swindled by those who would help them “see” that their enemies are those who are different, rather than those who would lie, control, harm and exploit. Look around you...look into the eyes of the Brothers and Sisters of this world, all here on the same journey to find meaning, peace, love, and happiness...just like US. When we hurt someone else...we hurt ourselves. Karma is real. There are no freebies. We earn and reap what we sow, period. When 1 person or people is exploited at the expense of another, the human race suffers...the world suffers.
We absolutely need to change direction as a species, before our world is destroyed. There is literally no more time for us to hate others, to refuse to work together, to refuse to care how our actions effect others in this world...other humans, other animals, other plants, other ecosystems...in short, our planet. We need to work together and embrace each other and our differences, to improve and truly save this world from destruction...destruction from global warming, from pollution, from war and genocide, from destruction of our primal ecosystems, from depletion of the nutritional value of our soil...from ignorance, exploitation, and abuse.
How, you might ask? Well, I can only use myself as an example. I have dedicated myself to serving others during my career working for the government, for the schools, for counseling agencies, and now as a counselor and coach in private practice. In my practice, I am open to others of different races, cultures, ethnicities, religions or spiritualities, genders, sexual orientation, etc. I have chosen to attend and graduate from a Historically Black College & University (HBCU). I have chosen to marry a woman from another country, far away from my own, a different religion, and a different culture. I have chosen to work for a small company, owned by a lesbian female couple, who promoted diversity in the workplace and served people with severe mental and physical disabilities, going out into their homes and communities, often in severely impoverished neighborhoods, where it was not pleasant or safe to work. I have chosen to become an Interfaith Spiritual Minister, promoting and supporting all religions and spiritualities in my counseling and coaching work. I have chosen to disassociate myself from both major political parties, recognizing that both are corrupt at their cores and only promote candidates who have sold their souls for money and power. I only vote for candidates I believe are good people as well as politicians, and I only send money directly to them, not to parties. I support Progressive candidates who respect all life, prioritize green, sustainable energy, commit to doing our best to slow down climate change and clean up our Earth, preserve our natural parks, forest, and natural resources, and reduce pollution, wars, and genocide of humans and animals globally. I decided 34 years ago to become a vegetarian, to reduce endless suffering and violence in the world, and to promote sustainability and reduce pollution and global destruction, and have for the past decade been mostly vegan. I compost, recycle, and try to eat simple food, mostly plants, grown from the earth around me. I plan in the future to become a smart farmer, growing much of my own food. I also plan to transition to renewable energy (solar and wind), catch and filter my own water, and continue to reduce my footprint as much as possible...and to teach others to do the same. You can do all of this yourself...or do it in another way that is just as meaningful and helpful to others and the world.
Back to inclusivity. Loving ourselves well means loving the world well, means loving all of its inhabitants well also. Remember a wise person once said, “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself,” or more wisely in other cultures, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself.” Or in yet another, “We are all one. There is no other.” Simply put, BE A GOOD PERSON. Lead with love, forgiveness, openness, and a sense of curiosity, holding a space for everyone around you that is different...for that includes every single thing.
So, how does this tie into Scouting? Well, again, historically, diversity and World Brotherhood & Sisterhood were centrally important to Scouting’s founder, B-P. He imagined Scouting as a kind of protection against world war, and was devastated by the two World Wars he experienced, after Scouting had been created, and pondered often how Scouting had “failed” to prevent these wars. Myself, I see the reason. Scouting has too often been used as a tool by the government to promote the military, to create young soldiers for its ranks, in the case of the US and its western allies, to basically invade and exploit other poorer, weaker countries. This is deeply shameful. The USA has been at war for 227 of its 243 years as a nation. Fighting for democracy and freedom? NO! Fighting for hegemony, power, wealth, and control. Study history well, and you will find a different story than the one told in school textbooks, for another wise person said, “History is written by the victors,” to justify themselves in their slaughter and theft. Scouting must NEVER be a tool to promote militarism and war! This starts at home, with each and every Scouting group, with each and every leader and his/her modeling and teaching. This starts with US.
My mission in Scouting is, like B-P, to promote World Brotherhood & Sisterhood, with the ultimate goal being world peace and the preservation of the planet. Inclusivity is absolutely central to that goal, because it assumes that everyone has the right to be who they are, without prejudice and discrimination. And prejudice and discrimination are the major tools used to justify war and genocide, as well as corruption of the world’s ecosystems. And it all starts with teaching youth in Scouting and modeling this for them as Rovers, for youth are much more open to inclusivity and usually do it on their own until they are discouraged by adults. Let’s open our hearts and minds together to the critical importance of inclusivity, of diversity, of world peace and preservation of our planet, of a true Brotherhood & Sisterhood of Service in the Open Air! Let’s make Scouting a vital and central organization and experience to make this happen, together, ALL. Shall we?
Chief Rover Scout, Ken Pataky
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