Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Cub Scout's Duty to Diversity

The new Cub Scout Handbooks are out!

This is really cool because my wife was on a national task force that re-wrote (simplified) the Cub Scout program. She has gone to BSA headquarters in Arlington, Texas (between Dallas and Ft. Worth) a few times. She's been on webcasts, provided training sessions at Philmont and any where else she gets asked. She explained the new program to a sell-out crowd (actually, no charge) at the old white church in Centerville (built 1879).

The main part my wife had to draft was the Bear requirements for religious participation. (BSA remains a faith-based organization). She worked hard to make sure it dove-tailed with the LDS Faith in God program, one of the more demanding religious awards, along with the awards of every other religion that works with Cub Scouting. While a faith-based organization, the BSA doesn't care what Faith or what God one worships. So, religious diversity is a big part of the training for boys and adults. As part of the diversity aspect of the religious portion of the Bear requirements is a family activity to discuss an important American religious figure.

My wife asked for my help on that one. So, putting on my thinking cap, my diverse knowledge of American History, and checking details with the internet (OK, yeah, a little bit of Wikipedia), I came up with the following in the attempt to simplify language for the understanding of a generic nine-year-old:

Roger Williams started the colony of Rhode Island so he and his friends could have a church like they wanted. He was a friend to the Native Americans and wanted the Slaves to be free.
Father De Smet was known as “Black Robe” by the Native Americans. He was a Catholic Priest in the West and made friends with Native Americans, Mountain Men, and Pioneers of all kinds of different religions
Abraham Lincoln did not go to any particular church but he had a strong belief in God that helped him decide that all men should be free and helped him win the Civil War and free the Slaves.
Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding were the first European-American Women to cross the Rocky Mountains. They went with their missionary husbands and they helped many Native Americans and Pioneers.
Jacob Schiff, born in Germany, became a successful business man in the United States and worked hard to help many Jewish people come to America between 1880-1920 and to make them feel welcome here.
Brigham Young was a pioneer leader of the Mormons or Latter-day Saints who helped establish many settlements where they could practice their religion in the desert country of the western United States.
The Sze Yap Chinese-American Society in San Francisco established the first Buddhist Temple in America in 1853. Unfortunately, many other Americans did not understand or welcome Buddhist people for many years.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relied on his religious faith in his non-violent struggles for equal rights in America. Many were inspired by his work and speeches. Sadly, he was killed because of his beliefs like Abraham Lincoln.
Cesar Chavez relied on his Catholic traditions in his work to help Hispanics and migrant farm workers to promote civil rights and respect in America. He also used principles of non-violent protest and developed the slogan, “¡Sí, se puede!” (“Yes! It can be done!”)

It was, of course, professionally edited for the final product. Much of my original work remains:

They left out Narcissa and Eliza and replaced them with other women. That's fine. It was probably the whole massacre thing. And I like the addition of Daisho Tana. That's someone I didn't know about along with the two women. I did not draft the phrasing for Barbara Heck "At a time when women didn't tell men what to do, she convinced Philip Embury to lead the new church." Does that mean we now live in a time when women do tell men what to do? I think I won't say any more but to wonder if some better editing might have helped there.

Note how well my explanation of Abraham Lincoln came out. I'm very pleased with that. And of course I just had to get Brigham Young in.

It's a good handbook all around. I'm really proud of my wife even if it is my own horn that seems to be tooting. The BSA, as a volunteer-based organization, does not give a lot of acknowledgment to volunteer (and professional staff) committee work. And my wife is one of the best of those good people.
Legal Notice: This material is provided in the nature of a free-use book review and not as any attempt to violate the copyright of the Boy Scouts of America. Please purchase your own handbook at the local Scout Shop. 

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