Plant it, grow it, nurture it

Loyalty is an important building block of strong character

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Loyalty is alive and well.

Or dead, depending on whom you ask or where you look.

It's booming in Vancouver. Fans across the globe are finding loyalty they forgot they had, cheering for their nations' athletes in the Winter Olympics.

But it's bust in the business world, according to management strategist Frederick Reichheld, author of the book The Loyalty Effect:

"On average," he wrote, "U.S. corporations now lose half their customers in five years, half their employees in four, and half their investors in less than one. We seem to face a future in which the only business relationships will be opportunistic transactions between virtual strangers."

But there's one place you'll never find a shortage of loyalty: the Boy Scouts.

"A Scout is loyal to those to whom loyalty is due." The Scout Law wording changed just last year. The rewording actually restores the original words of founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell.

That prompted a tart observation from a Fort Collins, Colo., Scouting Web site: "BSA has failed for 100 years to come up with a definition of 'loyal' understandable to an 11-year-old."

Not really. Not if you have the right teachers.

A basic principle of Scouting is that boys should learn by doing. But you can't just "do" loyalty. It's a valuable trait that must be planted like a seed and carefully cultivated.

Everyone must be loyal to something or someone. If not -- well, what are you left with? Loyalty helps shape character, as Baden-Powell well knew.

So did philosopher Josiah Royce. "Unless you can find some sort of loyalty," he wrote, "you cannot find unity and peace in your active living."

And we find it, and place it, in all kinds of people and institutions and ideas -- our family, our bosses, our government.

There's an organic quality to loyalty. It can't be produced artificially with lasting success.

In George Orwell's 1984, the iron-fisted Party extracted citizens' political loyalty by stamping out loyalty everywhere else. Marriages became antiseptic, procreative arrangements. Children were encouraged to inform on parents who harbored errant, non-state-approved thoughts.

But that's not genuine loyalty. That's fear-induced acquiescence. Loyalty grows out of respect. The right kind of loyalty begins by choosing the right people and institutions in which to invest loyalty, and upholding the concepts on which our nation was founded.

Scouting puts boys on that important path.

(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: helpful.)

Comments (17) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/27/10 - 11:40 pm
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I had a good time in the Boy

I had a good time in the Boy Scouts until they kicked me out for bringing matches (okay, cigarettes, too) on a camping trip. I think I made Tenderfoot, but that's debatable since I never actually went to the board. My MoHawk Patrol leader, who later went to prison, told me it was kind of automatic to make Tenderfoot even if I didn't go to the board.

I also remember the time the entire patrol was robbed by one bad kid we all knew from school when we were "hiking" down this dirt road. LaVern was about 89 in the 7th grade, but he was bad and we knew it. He went down the line taking what we had. He took my scout knife, but I didn't need it anyway.

So, editors, what's this all about Robert Baden-Powell being a Nazi sympathizer?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 02/27/10 - 11:46 pm
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Well, we've all got to

Well, we've all got to sympathize with something!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 02/27/10 - 11:51 pm
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Speaking of taking knives - -

Speaking of taking knives - - - I had my red plastic Swiss Army pocket knife with me a couple of years ago (it was one of the last ones with a corkscrew on it); and I needed to go into the Marble Palace for a tax matter. I took the knife out of my pocket and put it into my glove compartment, because I knew the Richmond County Marshals would never let me inside with a pocket knife on me.

Well, four days later, someone broke into my car in my driveway late at night and stole my Swiss Army knife from my glove compartment. I still miss it. They don't make them like that any more.

I wonder if Richmond County Sheriff's deputies are still looking for the person who stole $25,000 from the tax commissioner's open safe in January? I doubt it.

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 02/28/10 - 02:38 am
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Speaking of the missing 25K,

Speaking of the missing 25K, someone said that the Lead Investigator assigned to the case has not asked Steven Kendrick to take a polygraph test yet...Is that true?

orgpsych
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orgpsych 02/28/10 - 07:24 am
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Loyalty is an important part

Loyalty is an important part of establishing and using a moral compass. This is done by internalizing some set of values to which you can become and remain loyal over time. These values then guide you thorugh some very rough times. The Scouting Laws and Traits are a very good method of instilling that common standard.

You are right, loyalty can't be "done." It must be nurtured and grown over time. The question is to what depth do you allow loyalty to run? In these days of "flavor of the month" fame and political expediency, loyalty seems to be a lost quality, and not just for the youth of this world. The converse, blind loyalty regardless of what the person or group is doing, can be just as bad.

This idea appplies to recent discussions here but I am not specifically referring to that. I am speaking in a more global sense.

I enjoyed my days as a Boy Scout, oh so long ago. Those qualities remain with me to this day, strengthened by the 14 Principlesof Leadership that I learned in the military. Contrary to popular mythology, we don't do what we do for Mom and Apple Pie. We do what we do out of love and loyalty toward our fellow Soldier, Airman, Sailor, or Marine. Those bonds run deep and last a really long time. That's what I think of when we talk of loyalty.

Good article. Thanks.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/28/10 - 10:27 am
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It is a good editorial and

It is a good editorial and Orgpsych wrote insightfully on the matter. He obviously enjoyed his Scouting experience and recognizes the benefits, but also cautions against blind loyalty. I applaud his effort.

deekster
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deekster 02/28/10 - 10:28 am
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Ooorah!!! Simper Fi!!! Once

Ooorah!!! Simper Fi!!! Once a Marine, Always a Marine!!!! Anywhere and Anytime.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/28/10 - 10:29 am
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I’ll bring up one more

I’ll bring up one more activity for the sake of discussion because I found it to have influenced my life, leadership skills and ability to work with others more than anything. It is a controversial subject as evidenced by comments sometimes on these boards when its financing is discussed. That’s high school sports.

I played football during those formative years and I learned dedication, punctuality, discipline and loyalty. I learn to persevere through pain and hardships. It also instilled in me a pride that I sorely needed, coming from a family with an alcoholic, out of work, father. My life revolved around football all year as I represented the team and school.

I gained my respect, but it didn’t come easy. Our team was good and our coach was tough. When two-a-days were going on in the hot, humid SC August days ALL I was able to do was make it to practice. Around 4PM when we ran wind sprints as punishment for poor play the players, including me, actually cried more than once. Guys would fall down and call Jesus name. Some quit.

All this kept me motivated in the classroom, kept me out of trouble and had me, the kid from an extremely messed up home, driving an old car with the front fender missing, dating the principal’s daughter.

My next step was in the military and I excelled and became an officer…the hard way…after starting as an enlisted man. I remember clearly once in training when it was very, very tough during a shakeout thing of having to low crawl up this huge hill after running many miles at a breath taking pace, thinking “I played football. I can do this.”

deekster
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deekster 02/28/10 - 10:31 am
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I think our government uses

I think our government uses this book to train politicians. Probably at some "retreat in the West Virginia mountains". Next to Mao, Obama favorite text. In George Orwell's 1984, the iron-fisted Party extracted citizens' political loyalty by stamping out loyalty everywhere else. Marriages became antiseptic, procreative arrangements. Children were encouraged to inform on parents who harbored errant, non-state-approved thoughts.

Thinkerman
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Thinkerman 02/28/10 - 02:14 pm
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Riverman, come on! You are

Riverman, come on! You are just passing on disinformation. I recommend you read one of the two biographies on Baden-Powell. You would then discover that BP opposed the Nazi's and revoked their program in the late 1930's. What you should note is he establish the Boy Scouts International Bureau in 1920 as a result of his WW1 observations. He wanted the Boy Scouts to be a peace organization. He believed if these scouts had a common set of values as boys they would be less likely to kill each other as adults. Now that is information I wish the media would include in their coverage of the Scout movement.

TheFederalist
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TheFederalist 02/28/10 - 02:17 pm
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Orgpsych/Riverman1, we may

Orgpsych/Riverman1, we may have had differences of opinion in the past, and probably will in the future, but I wanted you both to know that your posts above were right on the mark. Well done sirs! I also thank you both for your past service to our country. I also was a scout, and although I never made it past first class, I was afforded the opportunity to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, a trip I will never forget. Yes, your thoughts about loyalty are so true. Today, sadly, many words that I was taught to live by are almost non-existant in our society. Character, Honor, Loyalty, Commitment, Responsibility, Perseverance, Respect, etc. When I was growing up, even the shows we watched on tv lifted up these virtues nightly. Now, just the opposite is true. But I digress. Great article AC, and thank you gentlemen, for you heartfelt comments, and historical insights about your lives. Imho, you both are great americans. Peace.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/28/10 - 02:59 pm
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Thinkerman, someone else

Thinkerman, someone else brought up Baden-Powell's Nazi connection before and I did look it up. Apparently, at least one of his biographers, Rosenthal, said that Baden-Powell was a "Nazi sympathizer" and that led had him to incorporate the swastika in some Scouting badges for awhile.

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."

If any right thinking, democratic loving person can read Mein Kampf and not find the anti-semitic remarks repugnant I am stunned.

Thinkerman
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Thinkerman 02/28/10 - 08:50 pm
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For the record, the swastika

For the record, the swastika was in use by the BSA (and other organizations) long before the world ever heard of Nazism. The BSA discontinued its use before 1930. Given those facts, Rosenthal had a bias against scouting. As for BP's assessment of Hitler, he didnt like Herr Hitler's actions as BP's own words indicate. Of course he was a product of his time and society. Besides, we have the benefit of 70 years of hindsite, education, and a much larger world view. I also think some miss the point that BP's actual contributions to the world outweigh pretty much any predjudice anyone may believe he had. Certainly, no one can argue the actual positive impact he had on the world. His vision and program have provided most of the world's youth with opportunities they would not have had otherwise. He is a man of amazing accomplishments.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/28/10 - 10:09 pm
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Thinkerman, I believe you

Thinkerman, I believe you should research BP more. The Nazi's adopted the swastika in 1920, the Boy Scouts used it starting in 1922. Plus, the comments praising Mein Kampf were made in 1939. The book was full of anti-semitic remarks and by that time everyone knew the horrific goals of Hitler and the Nazis.

Sure some of this is hindsight, sort of like bringing up negative facts about George Washington. But facts are facts.

Thinkerman
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Thinkerman 02/28/10 - 10:30 pm
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While we may differ on the

While we may differ on the facts, I will concur that like you and me, BP wasnt a saint. He was a product of his age like we are products of ours.

Unlike many people today, he worked to create a vision that has been positive and enduring. Arguably it has been more inclusive than some would want the masses to believe. However, the proof is that scouting today is the largest youth movement in the world and its most influential. I hope it continues indefinitely - the world needs the character it develops, the values it teaches, and the opportunities it provides. Happy 100th Birthday, BSA, I wish you another happy 100+ years!!

brayton99
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brayton99 03/01/10 - 12:33 pm
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Michael Powell here, a

Michael Powell here, a decendent of Lord Robert Baden-Powell. I must admit that I am ashamed of the boy scouts. The organization is an embarrassment to our family, based on their bigotry and discrimination against gay people. I was a boy scout and know personally about the inherent hatred that is so much embedded in the organization. Shame on the organization. My ancestor would be appalled at the stand that the current organization takes. Shame, Shame, Shame

Thinkerman
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Thinkerman 03/01/10 - 10:43 pm
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"Michael" - Inherent hatred?

"Michael" - Inherent hatred? Bigotry? Really??? That sure is a lot of emotion and drama for a member of the BP lineage.

For the record, I havent ever seen any of that in any scout organization without exception. Go to a meeting around here and see for yourself.

While you may not agree with the BSA's position, where is your tolerance of different views? No one is asking you to approve or condone it, however, tolerance is a two way street. That one principle is what makes the US different than any other representative democracy in the world and gives our nation much of its appeal and strength. This is founded in the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution (the right to free association).

I also dont think anyone should speak for a dead man who cant speak for himself. It just doesnt seem appropriate...who knows what he would say?

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