February 19, 2007

ugh, home sick today

I haven't taken a sick day in over four years, but it's finally caught up to me. Sore throat, stuffed up. Otherwise, not too bad. So what do I do on my sick day? Taxes seems appropriate. So maybe I'll try to get that done. Also, my presentation for Thursday night's cub scout pack meeting. I've volunteered to run the Friends of Scouting (FOS) for our pack this year. That's asking everyone to put in even more money than they have so far.

I'm going to try a little experiment. In the past, the FOS presentations have typically been about how the money goes to fund things like the day camps and dinners and graduations and other events. This year, though, I'm going to try a different tack: Our pack is well funded. The neighborhood is affluent compared to 99% of the world, though we're the "poor" neighborhood in our town. Our scout council covers some pretty tough areas such as Richmond and Antioch and Pittsburg, areas where scouting can really help young boys learn leadership and life skills that they may not get in other ways.

I read recently that of every 100 scouts, one of them will save a life some time during his lifetime. While I was in New Orleans, I heard a story of a 12-year-old boy scout who lived in a hard-hit area with his parents and grandparents. After the food and clean water had run out and they were still stranded in their little house, this scout got some pants, tied off the legs, and blew them up to create floats. He'd learned this in scouting. He was able to float his ailing grandparents from house to house to a place where they could be rescued. I also know that boy scouts and former scouts are leading teams of volunteers in demolition, cleanup, and reconstruction efforts.

We in the Bay Area are, as the CEO of the United Way of the Bay Area puts it, right in the middle of the bulls-eye for disasters both natural and man-made. When the "big one" hits here, I am certain that scouts and former scouts will be right up front in helping people who need it. It is important to support building the type of leadership skills and readiness/survival skills that scouting promotes, and it is important to ensure that kids in areas that could be hard hit by disasters get those skills, too. Friends of Scouting is less about pumping money into our own pack's events and more about the community as a whole and scouting as a whole.

I admit to some apprehension because of the Boy Scouts' policy of bigotry (anti-gay policies) and their focus on Religion with a capital R (to be a scout leader, you must overtly profess a belief in God), but the fact is that the scouting program does teach many good things to boys and gives them a lot of experiences they would not otherwise have. And we're fortunate in the Bay Area to have an atmosphere of tolerance, so the God/Gay thing is muted, often to the point of being equivalent to saying "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Locally, there is deference to the family's sentiments, so the boys are not being indoctrinated into beliefs that I do not hold, just by being Scouts.

So, hopefully, my presentation will resonate with the folks in our pack. I have my doubts, though, because this area seems to be insular and selfish. About half the families here say that if their donation isn't going directly to support their own children and their own area, then they aren't donating... even though we are blessed (augh! a God word!) with all manner of abundance that communities just a mile or two away from us do not have.

What a strange world it is.


Lily said...

PJ - I wish you the very best on your presentation. I am excited about the possibilities and hope that your neighbors see the importance of teaching our children to give outside themselves and their own little "safe" world because the world is getting smaller and even if insulating ourselves from the less-than-pleasant were a good idea, the inevitably of this impossibility is upon us. To be a good citizen I must lend a hand to my neighbors, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because one day it may me who needs a hand.

Lily said...

Oh yeah...and feel better soon!