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"Not a big deal"

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I put this question here, because it's sort of a philosophical question: Is it ever appropriate to say, "Yes, it's wrong to do X, but it's not that big a deal compared to other issues." This question has come to me in connection with a few discussions lately, including penny ante poker, modifications to the uniform, adults wearing badges earned as youth, cell phones at camp, wearing an earing, etc.

Is there--or should there be--a difference in how we deal with "minor" and "major" issues?

I guess my take is this: if it's a major issue, I think you should make strong efforts to get others to change their ways (i.e., if I learned that another unit was ignoring two-deep leadership, I would probably report that)--but if it's a minor issue, you give your opinion if asked, but mainly concentrate on dealing with your own backyard (i.e., I would prohibit penny ante poker in my own unit, but I wouldn't call down the authorities on another unit that was allowing it). What do others think--not about the specifics of a particular issue, but about how to approach issues in general?

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How big the deal is depends on how big someone wants to make of it.

Just thinking about some of the things that have come up here in the past few weeks.

How many Troops in their big book of rules have a written policy that states that all medication must be handed over to the Adult Leader in charge? We know that this is not the BSA ruling and it seems in some states it might be illegal.

The ear ring. We know that there is no BSA ruling on ear rings. The member of the Board was out of order asking for it to be removed. The Lad thought it was a big enough deal to quit Scouting. What action was taken against the adult. A letter of apology might have been a good idea?

Confiscation of other peoples property seems to be no big deal if the property is a cell phone. What happens when a irate parent reports this as theft? Does it become a big deal then?

Wood Badge Patrol badges allowed to remain on a uniform not a big deal until the troop would have had a perfect score when the UC did the uniform inspection but the beady eye seen the offending patch.

99.9% of parents are OK with the Elementary School chartering a Cub Scout Pack, some ACLU member six states away is not happy all of a sudden it becomes a big deal.

I jump in my car to buy milk at the convenience store less than a two minute drive, not wearing a seat belt is no big deal until the drunk twit hits me.

Many moons ago OJ landed himself in hot water at school. The elementary school principle phoned and asked if I would stop in. John is a super nice fellow an Eagle Scout and now is a member of the District Committee. At this time we didn't know each other very well in fact OJ had just transfered from a Catholic school. When I arrived he took me into his office and said "Do you know what Oliver said when I asked him what would your father say if he found out what you have done?"

I said "I bet he said only the mugs get caught."

John was shocked and wanted an explanation. I explained that I had been caught smoking by my House Master when I was at school. I really liked our House Master, he was from Wales and played on the Welsh International Rugby team. I played number eight on both the House and School Rugby team so he liked me as much as anyone from Wales can like anyone who isn't from Wales. He seemed to have something to say about everything. He is in the Rugby Book of Quotes saying:

"I think you enjoy the game more if you don't know the rules. Anyway, you're on the same wavelength as the referees." - Jonathan Davies, A Question of Sport BBC TV

Smoking in school was a big deal, in fact so big that getting caught was punishable by a caning from the Senior Master ( Yes there were different ranks of who would hit you depending on the crime!!) A caning from the Senior Master went on your report card.

Jonathan had caught me smoking on my way home not on school property but still in school uniform. He took great pains to explain to me that only the mugs get caught and the best way not to get caught was not to do it and if you were stupid enough to do it be clever enough not to get caught. I thought that these were wise Welsh words and have carried them with me always.

Being the nice chap that he was he agreed to do the caning so it wouldn't show up on my report card. Our Senior Master was a little man, I know that he wouldn't have hurt me near as much as Mr Davies did, he even added an extra whack because I wasn't wearing my school cap. I explained this to OJ's principle. He was in shock. When he first heard OJ say "Only the mugs get caught" He thought I was not a very good parent.

When BP was asked about Be Prepared, prepared for what he answered any old thing!!

How big a deal something is depends on so many different things, our values, our education, where and how we were brought up.

I feel fairly safe within my values and have learned to live with the values that Her Who Must Be Obeyed has. Right now OJ is at the age where he is questioning everything and is rebelling but he will out grow that at the end of the day it's not a big deal.


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I occasionally encounter something like this and it is potentially a great learning opportunity for the boy. If the issue is something along the lines of what Hunt stated, I think it is an opportunity to ask the boy to explain how he rationalizes his deception without actually accusing him of anything. If done well, the discussion can lead him to understand his thinking error. And this can have the effect of causing him to 1) rethink his decision, and 2) begin to think about future decisions in similar terms. Both of these results are positive.

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It was posted recently as an answer to why someone didn't 'fight' on an issue...the answer:(I paraphrase here) "I didn't feel like dying on that hill today" or as those of us less eloquent would say you 'pick your fights'...If it is important enough you will 'act' and we make these decisions almost every hour of every day...


And then you have to decide if wrong is truly wrong?

Is there harm? Danger? And the one I really like is it any of your darn bussiness?


I am not perfect so sometimes I know my decisions may not be right...but even "right" is oft times a matter of perpective and even background or up-bringing.


Heck, My friends in a LDS unit have "problems" with lots of things my troop does...but they feel it is none of their business to "instruct" me otherwise...


how was this for a wishy washy answer? do I get the prize?

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First thing I ask myself is "Is it worth my time, do I really have nothing better to do." Since I only spend one hour a week onthis stuff I have to select carefully. Is time spent correcting someone for a uniform infraction better spent teaching a scout an eye splice?


Second, Assuming it is worth my time, am I going to win? After all, if I am going to lose anyhow is it really worth my time?


Third, does the other party already know what they are doing is wrong? You see, if he all ready knows I can't claim I'm being helpful and chances are I'm not being friendly, curtious, kind or cheerful either. Seems like if I impose then the only one I can claim is reverent and then only because I must think I'm some kind of saint.


forth, can the other party do anything about the infraction? If some ones fly is down, I'll let them know so they can zip it up but what's the point of telling the tour leader he has a hole in his pants? He can't do anything about it anyhow and he'll be uncomfortable the rest of the day.


Fifth, I have to remind myself that just about every one has stoped reading around item two or three, who do I think I am going on to five?

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My Big Deal radar is most finely attuned to personal behavior by the scouts. I'm not too concerned about, say, correct placement of badges. Here are my flexible guidelines.


DEFCON 1 = inappropriate behavior that affects only himself (smoking) - mention it to the scout and let it go.

DEFCON 2 = inappropriate behavior that affects others (pennyante poker) - mention it to the unit leader and let it go.

DEFCON 3 = inappropriate behavior that contradicts the Scout Oath or Law (cheating in a klondike competition) - mention it to the appropriate leader and follow up.

DEFCON 4 = danger to self or others (hazing or poor axemanship) - immediate intervention and followup.


Thanks for posting, this got me thinking, which is always a good thing.(This message has been edited by CubsRgr8)

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