BSA has been pushing for diversity in Scouting for years. It was one of the focuses (foci?) of Wood Badge and there was even a requirement that at least one of the tickets had to have a diversity component. Diversity brings a lot to the table bringing together world view, insight and experiences from a number of reference points all under the shared umbrella of scouting. It is a pretty amazing thing when you can get diverse view points to come together under a common cause working for the greater good of scouting. Blue Collar & White Collar, Conservative & Liberal, different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions… all coming together with the focus on the kids and the program.
And when everyone is focused on the Scout Program, consisting of the Aims of Scouting (Character, Citizenship & Fitness) and the Methods of Scouting (Patrols, Ideals, Outdoor Programs, Advancement, Association with Adults, Personal Growth, Leadership Development and Uniform) it is special…. but sometimes, we drop our focus for a minute… and that’s when it gets not good.
Diversity brings about a lot of good ideas, but it also brings around a lot of baggage. When our focus is taken from the common goal, and how we can all work together, we sometimes start focusing on how different we are. And while we thrive in an environment where our strengths can support the weaknesses of others and vice versa, we also can drown in the same environment where the failings of others, especially in things that come easily to us, are irritations and pet peeves (ask any young married couple about this, it’s the first, hardest challenge of living together!)
So how do we combat this diversion of focus in a Scout Troop (or Pack)? I don’t know.
If I did, I’m sure I’d win a Nobel Prize or something like that. I have ideas and theories. I have hopes and dreams. But in the end… I don’t know. I think there has to be continual education and reaffirmation of the goals of the group (aims and methods). I think creating an environment of open communication has to be part of the recipe for success. One in which gossip is taboo and arguments are civil. I think the benefit of doubt must be the first instinct, in which the motives of everyone in the troop have to be assumed to be pure at first blush, rather than selfish, no matter how selfish ideas might seem at first. I think we have to accept people where they are in the moment and be grateful. Understanding that some people, either by circumstance, choice or whatever, only have a limited amount to give. Some aren’t properly equipped or trained for what they’d like help with, yet. And some people have so much baggage in their past, that if we only knew what they had to overcome to get to where they are contributing to the cause, we would be amazed at their strength. Also, I think we have to forgive. When we are dealing with others, we are going to be offended… sometimes on purpose, sometimes through misunderstanding, but we have to find a way to let these things go and move on and be the better person if need be. And I think we need strong leadership. A buck stops here attitude with the Key 3 of the troop, but also a willingness to follow by the members of the troop… at least this is what I think.
As I go over that list of what I think needs to be done, the most glaring thing about it is that I’m not doing well in any of those areas. Before I can ask others to act this way, I need to be modeling this behavior and then, hopefully I can influence others to do the same, then we’ll see if I can prove the theory… and maybe win the Nobel Prize.