I wondered about this question as I read Michael S. Malone’s new book out about the Boy Scouts called Running Toward Danger: Real Life Scouting Action Stories of Heroism, Valor & Guts. The book describes all of the amazing things that boy scouts have done over the years, including saving 13,000 lives since 1910:
Running Toward Danger is filled with extraordinary characters. First among equals is the buckskinned sophisticate, co-founder of Scouting, and friend of U.S. presidents, Daniel Carter Beard, who created the Honor Medal and then nearly drove it to disaster. But there also are hundreds of young men and women who find themselves in the most terrifying situations imaginable, fly into action, and not only survive but also save others in the process. It is a narrative that swings from a lonely, lightning-scorched mountain top to an isolated farmhouse, to crowded urban neighborhoods, to shark-filled waters– each story presenting its own dangers that demands a clear-minded and smart strategy, requiring an abundance of bravery from its young rescuers.
For Scouts and their families these stories are the best lessons imaginable on what makes Scouting great and what the character-building training programs of the Boy Scouts of America develop in young people. But this also is a book for all Americans that celebrates the courage and resourcefulness of our nation’s youth. You never will forget these remarkable stories of young people who, when met with the ultimate challenge, don’t hesitate to run toward danger to help others.
The back cover of the book mentions that “Courage is Contagious.” Yes, but so is fear. In our society, we spend so much time listening to people’s fears, their grievances, and why it is best to let someone in “authority” handle any emergency or problem that our younger people grow up without a sense of heroism or the meaning of courage. Courage now is defined as being some kind of fake social justice warrior who has little to lose. Add to this how the boy scouts are vilified and made fun of, and one has to wonder if courage as described in the book will continue to exist in the American culture.
What happens if the boy scouts become obsolete? Where do boys (and girls) learn courage?