Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Middle Way of Scouting

My son has recently joined the Cub Scouts, a part of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and his participation in this venerable organization is causing me some angst, forcing me to examine thoughts and feelings from my own Buddhist perspective. 

Firstly, BSA is an organization that does not have a stellar reputation for "inclusive" practices, having won a June 2000 Supreme Court decision allowing it, as a private organization, to exclude certain members based on non-Christian beliefs or homosexuality.  This is something that I'm not happy with and question whether I want my son being influenced by an organization that excludes members based on these criteria.

Am I attached to my beliefs, and therefore struggling with my views on the BSA?  I believe so.  Am I practicing "exclusion" by shunning an organization that does not follow MY beliefs?  Again, I think so.  Do I want my son to miss out on the myriad of "benefits" of scouting?  No.

So what I've settled on is the Middle Way, no organization is going to be perfect, or imperfect for that matter.  BSA is what it is, and my son should experience it for just that.  Critical decisions about membership and exclusion can be his to make when he's old enough to question them for himself.  Until then I will continue to examine and practice, but I'd like to hear from other Buddhists on this topic.


bluebird of paradise said...

I can empathize with your dilemma. My daughter who has three sons has chosen to enroll her boys. She has also gotten involved in being a leader. That way ensures that he sons have a balanced view.

Anonymous said...

1. Forty plus years ago, the BSA recognized and accommodated Buddhism as a religious practice.
2. How that religion, as practiced by my fellow scout, Bruce Shimizu, son of a Japanese immigrant, relates to Zen Buddhism as you practice it, I do not know.
3. Apart from atheists, the other group griping the loudest about failure to include is the homosexual community.
4. From a law enforcement perspective, am uncomfortable with that group's predatory and proselytizing behaviors towards young men.
5. Want BSA to reinforce the moral compass provided by my religion to my young son.
6. Want to exclude the immoral and foolish offerings of society as best I can. Without doubt, those will be on the table sooner than I wish.
V/R JWest

Eric said...


Buddhism is accommodated by BSA insofar as the practitioner swears an oath to God; what God, who's God, I don't know,nor is it really relavent.

I agree that the homosexual community is "griping" loudly. I disagree with the generalization of "predatory and proselytizing". The same description can be applied to any fringe element of any group.

I think that it's best if we set our own sons' moral compasses and not count on input from any other group outside the home. Morality begins and ends at home.

Good input and I thank you for it.

Priya Shankar said...

I really enjoyed this post as well as all of the pictures you've posted. I understand the question you face, but I do agree that every organization has its strengths and weaknesses. You or your son simply has to make a decision about what you value more- the ideology behind the org. or the benefits you or your son may reap from being a part of it.