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Honor. What is it? What does Honor mean to a Scout?

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  • Honor. What is it? What does Honor mean to a Scout?

    I recently wrote a post on my blog "Scouting Rediscovered" on Honor and what it means to a Scout. It is the last post in a series on what I call Keystones of a Scout; the 10 qualities I believe help define what the Scout Spirit is. In it I also describe why I believe Scouting needs to be Rediscovered. If anyone would like to read it and let me know what you think, I'd appreciate it.

    http://scoutingrediscovered.com/scou...a-scout-honor/

    I would also love to hear everyone's thoughts on what Honor really means, why our founders considered it to be so important, and if it is still important today. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    Yours in Scouting!

  • #2
    Nice write-up! I hope a lot of boys read it.

    After a potentially sample-destroying equipment failure that one of our IT interns stumbled upon, I sat down with him and broke down the gravity of the situation. He had asked if we had to report this failure every time we reported from any analysis of these samples. My line was simply "We are nothing we we don't have our integrity."

    Life is riddled with attempts to avoid sweeping things "under the rug."

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    • #3
      I have always simply used the definition of honor being the value of one's word and how well it can be trusted. If one promises something and don't follow through, their word cannot be trusted and thus there is no honor. One's word used to mean something. Something that could be relied on by others. If someone said something, and they come through on it, they have honor. One's honor used to be "sealed" with a hand-shake, another thing that used to mean something.

      It reminds me of the old adage, "Don't make promises if you don't think you can fulfill them." It's more honorable to say no, than to mislead others into thinking they can rely on you.

      I'm thinking that's why BP started his "Oath": "On my honor, I promise....". Or in other words. "On the value of my word I promise...." One's word is a direct reflection of the worth of that person's ability to be trusted.
      Last edited by jblake47; 07-31-2013, 08:19 AM.

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      • #4
        NIce blog, you have a good grasp of the bigger picture. I can't really add anything to what honor means because you and the other posters already relayed my thoughts. Well done. You certainly love this scouting stuff. Barry

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        • #5
          Thank you all for your thoughts.

          @jblake47

          "honor being the value of one's word and how well it can be trusted" I think that's a good way to look at honor.

          @everyone

          All Scouts will make mistakes in keeping the Scout Oath and Law. Where do you think the line should be drawn in the Troop's responsibility to hold a Scout accountable? In your experience, is the the accountability usually too strict or too lax?

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          • #6
            I think it's more a question of where your blind spots are. My SM wouldn't took the 3rd commandment very seriously (not even an OMG). But he'd let us tell some pretty rare jokes.

            Also, some scouts are coming from a different starting point than others. Each boy is a negotiation between you and his parents. Then, we make it clear to a boy when an action is unbecoming of his oaths. Some boys need quite a lot of "warning." From the outside, it could look like we are very lax. But from the boots on the ground, if a boy is always on "lock down" you will never know if he's learned. (Of course from the boys' perspective, we often come off as too strict!)

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            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              Third commandment? I'm missing the point.

            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain." -- If he heard an "Oh my Gosh" (or even a "Golly gee" or "by Jove") from our lips, he'd bust us on it!

          • #7
            That's because he didn't understand what the Third Commandment means. It means one shall not use the Lord's name (power) inappropriately. In the OT the word translated "name" is synonymous with the word "power". In the Name (Power) of Jesus we pray... Call upon the Name (Power) of God in times of trouble, He comes in the Name (Power) of the Lord... That's why when Moses asked God what his name was, He did not answer. (I am who I am, in other words, it's none of your business.) To know someone's name is to have power over them. So how can one use the Lord's name (identification) improperly when we don't even know what it is? What the Third Commandment really means is don't use the Lord's power to condemn someone (God damn you.) That is a three word prayer calling upon God to condemn the other person. Or swear an oath using God's power to support it if it's really a lie, (By God, I swear it's the truth.) These would get someone's chops busted in my book. But one calling upon God at a time of great astonishment, (Oh, my God!) is no big deal in my book.

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            • #8
              ScoutRedux, to answer your second question, it depends on whether the scout sees the mistake he made and wants to fix it. If his only sorrow is that he got caught, then I won't have much sympathy for him. If on the other hand he's honestly sorry for what he did, and wants to make it better, then I'll have much more forgiveness. Deciding where a scout is on that continuum is another problem all together.

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              • #9
                I think Honor has to be more than just trustworthiness. I think you can be trustworthy (i.e. do what you say you are going to do) without being honorable (e.g. to be revered for the quality of your overall character). When we say "On my Honor..." were not just giving our word, we're pledging our entire character to the oath. I've been struggling to think of an example. This one is poor but starts toward the point. A trustworthy man, if he found a wallet in the street, would turn it over to the police or maybe attempt to contact the owner, all without taking any advantage of the situation. If the owner was never found and he got the wallet back, he might keep the money for some personal gain. An honorable man would go the extra mile to ensure the owner was found. He'd hound the police if he ended up turning the wallet over to them. If in the end the owner was never located he'd donate the proceeds to a charity. That doesn't quite hit the nail on the head for me but it's close.

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                • ScoutingRediscovered
                  Editing a comment
                  Great point, but honor can't simply be a man of character, right? It must have something to do with not just having great character, but a reputation of great character. When you're pledging to do something "on your honor" then it means that staking any reputation you have as a man of character on the result of what you pledge to do.

                  Because of that, I think it is helpful to explain honor in terms of honor groups like I tried to do in my blog post. When a Scout takes the Scout Oath, he is voluntarily joining an honor group with the standards codified in the Scout Oath and Law. After he does that, anything he does will go 'on his record' towards his honor or dishonor by the rest of the honor group.

                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Here's a thought ...

                  I think honor expresses itself in groups. That's why I push youth to "put themselves out there". This is one of the prime distinctions between my ventures who come in from a troop environment, and the rest (i.e., some girl scouts, and boys and girls who were never in scouting). In a troop it is taken for granted that you will hold a position of responsibility (not talking about patches here, talking about a job that everyone expects of you), and you will put some effort into it and nobody is going to take any excuses from you, and you are not going to make any excuses for your self. If you fail, you apologize - not quit - and we move forward. If you haven't got that when you were 11-13, then you face a tremendous fear of failure when, at 14, I hand you your application and say "fill this out, don't make your mom or dad do anything except sign the bottom and read the fine print with you. Bring it back next meeting, and I'll make sure you're legit." Then the next meeting, my VP program comes up and says, "Hey, I saw your eyes light up when we mentioned canoeing. Do you want to help us pick some dates, make some calls, and set it up?"

                  You know what? It doesn't matter if it happens at their first meeting or their 12th, that challenge to their honor for the benefit of the group is huge. So much so, that I have seen youth quit before even trying. That's not a complete tragedy, they usually find honor in something else. (It's really tough on the advisor's ego when they do! )

                  So, IMHO, the honor is something you have long before you "sign on" (be it in pen, or with an oath). It's your very essence. When you set up any expectations for yourself (again, words are superfluous here), you call on that honor. When you meet those expectations you reveal it. When you don't, your honor is squashed and you become less than the person the Almighty intends you to be. When you ask forgiveness, you "come to yourself" (as the prodigal did) and that honor gets restored -- sometimes to levels greater than those around you may think you deserve. It's all part of the great human drama.

                  We're just asking our scouts to be very intentional about letting that drama play out!

              • #10
                I spent this past week on jury duty. It was a felony within a family. Intellectually it was a fascinating experience and I got to see how the rubber hits the road when it comes to the constitution. Emotionally, however, it was draining. There were no good guys, only bad and worse. While the legal system worked, it didn't come close to helping with the underlying problem.

                This family was a mess. Multiple marriages/relationships for each adult, kids out of wedlock, a family graph rather than a family tree, everyone has a step relationship, fathers not being dads, moms not knowing where their kids are, kids moving among parents and grandparents. We struggled with the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt" because nothing we saw was reasonable. This was a Shakespearean tragedy of character.

                All of us on the jury couldn't help but think that the underlying problem had more to do with an unstable family than anything else. It's not that this couldn't have happened in a stable family, but, as the judge told us afterwards, this happens to these families all the time.

                About a third of kids are raised in single parent families and about 40% of kids are born out of wedlock. All I can say is, beyond a reasonable doubt, this ain't good.

                What is honor? Maybe we can't define it but we all know what it is. Maybe it's like scout spirit. Maybe it's being selfless and loyal towards an ideal, whether that ideal is marriage or children or country or just a scout troop. Whatever it is, we could sure use some more of it.

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                • #11
                  And yet there is "honor among thieves." Honor is no indicator of good or bad. There is no moral connection to honor. A lot of people would like to think there is, but as organized crime and gangs realize there must become some code of honor to make the group/community work.

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                  • ScoutingRediscovered
                    Editing a comment
                    I think you are right. In itself, honor is neither "good" or "bad". Honor points toward and drives a person toward the values of whatever group it is in. We associate honor so much with morally right things because in the culture that we are a part of, honor points to the values summarized in the Scout Oath and Law.

                • #12
                  Well, maybe based on this discussion, I was privileged to witness honor in action this past weekend. A young man in my troop is working on his Eagle project. He is a baseball player at the HS and his project is coordinating the rebuild of the dugouts at the HS baseball field. Saturday was the work day to lay the blocks for the dugouts. He invited the troop and the baseball team. At 7am when the masons were ready to start laying block the troop was there and a venturer from the young man's Jambo Crew was also there (after an hour drive). We laid block for about 2 hours when the baseball team showed up with the coaches. The team and the coaches putzed around the infield for a while doing anything but hauling blocks. We all ate lunch at noon, then the baseball team and coaches dispersed. I had a couple of adults comment on the work ethic of the scouts helping out their fellow scout. Is that honor? It certainly looked the part to me. Not that I'm proud or anything of my boys .

                  Comment


                  • qwazse
                    qwazse commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yep. Son #2 was ASPL and he and SPL performed as expected at camp this year. We had an older group of guys, so there weren't too many hiccups. But since thenI have been getting reports from their church and school youth leaders (different schools, different churches) about how hard-working yet nurturing both boys were in various different environments.

                    Now that I think about it, same sort of thing happened with Son #1 (although he was never SPL or PL, he was crew president). Outside of scouting folks would come up to me and say "he gets stuff done."
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