It's the glue that binds us

Scouting’s founder chose first tenet of the Boy Scout Law for good reason

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When Lord Robert Baden-Powell first drafted the Scout Law in 1908, he could have picked any number of positive attributes to place at the top of the list.

But he had good reason to start his list with "trustworthy."

"A Scout tells the truth," begins the first tenet of the Scout Law. "He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him."

Gold and silver prices will fluctuate. But try putting a value on trust. It is inestimable. People prize it immensely. We feel terrible when we misplace it. It's so valuable that leaders and business owners and the media spend every waking hour trying to win it from you.

Like other sought-after commodities, trust often takes a beating in the public marketplace. It is cheapened by politicians who use trust as oil to grease the machinery of their own interests. Look at Congress. Trust in that lot has the current value of a Zimbabwean dollar.

Heaven knows advertising too often has pummeled the concept of trust into the ground. Why buy Acme brand toothpaste? Because your favorite movie star uses it. You can trust him.

But through all that, the phrase "Scout's honor" is so firmly ingrained in popular culture that it has become a synonym for instilling 100 percent trust.

Baden-Powell surely would be proud of that. Honesty, integrity, dependability -- all that falls under the aegis of trust, and it's in the backbone of every good Scout.

Philosophers have noted a difference between trust and reliance. We rely on the power company to keep our lights on, but when the power fails we don't feel bitter emotional betrayal. Trust is different, and we employ it for different reasons -- out of goodwill or self-interest, mainly.

But if there is no trust, everything else falls apart. It's a glue that binds us. Beneath all the laws that help shape our society and behavior, at some level we must still trust one another -- that each of us will do the right thing.

It probably has been said before: If there is no trust, there is no progress.

Part of being a good Scout -- indeed, of being a good person -- is to be trustworthy, and to know when to trust others.

Above all, though, trust yourself. When you can do that, as Goethe wrote in Faust, "you will know how to live."

(In honor of Scouting's 100th birthday this year, The Chronicle will be exploring the 12 character attributes listed in The Boy Scout Law. Next week: loyal.)

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johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 02/21/10 - 02:59 am
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Trustworthy, loyal, helpful,

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. How easy is it to live with people that find these qualities fit well into their lifestyle? For me, very easy. I've tried to apply these qualities to our president, Obama. I find cheerful, brave and clean are a good fit all of the time. I don't think 3 out of 12 is good enough for me.

Petey Aitchess
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Petey Aitchess 02/21/10 - 04:34 am
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brave?

brave?

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 02/21/10 - 07:36 am
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Yes, Petey. Would you have

Yes, Petey. Would you have the cojones to stand up and say what he does? It takes a very brave person to make that much of a fool of himself almost every day.

Petey Aitchess
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Petey Aitchess 02/21/10 - 07:37 am
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cliff - LOL, okay in that

cliff - LOL, okay in that context, I understand. ;-)

deekster
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deekster 02/21/10 - 09:03 am
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"The truth is

"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it,
but in the end; there it is.” Winston Churchill

jiclemens
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jiclemens 02/21/10 - 09:34 am
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Obviously the Chronicle is

Obviously the Chronicle is unaware of the shenanigans of Pacific Gas and Electric a few years ago. Since then, "trust" in the almighty corporation has fallen to new lows. Trust and reliability are two different things. Corporations fail us when they are dishonest. Congress fails us because it can't be counted on to police and rectify corporate malfeasance. Which is worse? Corporate dishonesty or congressional incompetence? We have a system to vote out congressional incompetence if we would just use it wisely, and vote. The capitalist system is by definition amoral (not necessarily immoral). It is ultimately our responsibility to vote with our dollars and at the poll or evil will never be reigned in.

Riverman1
87033
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Riverman1 02/21/10 - 10:38 am
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Democratic Senate Leader

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid said Obama was clean. Of all the other traits he could have chosen he picked that one. He also commented about his speaking ability, but I won't go there. It was simply too racist.

grouse
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grouse 02/21/10 - 11:19 am
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"...Baden-Powell's distrust
Unpublished

"...Baden-Powell's distrust of communism led to his implicit support, through naïveté, of fascism. In 1939 Baden-Powell noted in his diary: 'Lay up all day. Read Mein Kampf. A wonderful book, with good ideas on education, health, propaganda, organization etc.—and ideals which Hitler does not practise himself.'"
He also admired Benito Mussolini, and some early Scouting badges had a swastika symbol on them.[46] According to his biographer Rosenthal, Baden-Powell used the swastika because he was a Nazi sympathizer. Jeal, however, argues that Baden-Powell was naïve of the symbol's growing association with fascism and maintained that his use of the symbol related to its earlier, original meaning of "good luck" in Sanskrit, for which purpose the symbol had been used for centuries prior to the rise of fascism. Despite these early sympathies, Baden-Powell was a target of the Nazi regime in the Black Book, which listed individuals who were to be arrested during and after an invasion of Great Britain as part of Operation Sealion. Scouting was regarded as a dangerous spy organization by the Nazis. Oh, and he settled and died in KENYA!

Riverman1
87033
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Riverman1 02/21/10 - 12:05 pm
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I guess Baden-Powell trusted

I guess Baden-Powell trusted Hitler a little too much.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 02/21/10 - 09:48 pm
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grouse, gay used to mean

grouse, gay used to mean happy. words and symbols change over very short periods of time. What NAZI used to mean in 1930 isn't what NAZI means today. It's certainly different from what it meant in 1908, before there was a NAZI party.

grouse
1635
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grouse 02/22/10 - 12:18 am
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Johnston, are you nuts?
Unpublished

Johnston, are you nuts?

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