Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Scout is Courteous

The Scout Handbook reads "A Scout is courteous. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along."

It has been quite fun seeing the development of standards in Scouting through history as I go research each point of the Scout Law.  For instance, it's true that for a lot of us, when we think about Scouts (before being part of Scouts), you envision a little boy in uniform assisting a feeble, elderly woman across the street.  Nostalgic, though still this image encapsulates the very essence of Scouting.  Selfless service.

The Boy Scout Trail blog states that "Being courteous is being a gentleman. It is opening doors and holding them open for the next person... It is saying "Pardon me" when you bump into someone in a crowd. It is giving a firm handshake when you make the acquaintance of someone.

Courtesy often seems to be a thing of the past; something for old people or something out of old black and white movies. In our age of email, instant messaging, and online chats, courtesy becomes a more difficult behavior to learn and practice. And, make no mistake, it takes practice to become good at it. Courtesy requires personal interaction where the value of the other person can be demonstrated. After all, courtesy occurs out of respect for other people."

Technology has given too many people a way to completely zone out and thus, courtesy is severely lacking in today's youth.  There are many ways that courtesy can be exemplified in today's world and we need to teach this to our children!  First and foremost -- LOOK UP FROM YOUR PHONE!  When you're in company, do not wear earbuds.  When you're at the dinner table, there should be nothing in your hand other than a fork.  Give the people with a pulse in your presence, the courtesy of being present.

I read somewhere that "courtesy is a heartfelt expression of respect and consideration" and everywhere I look, it seems that courtesy and respect go hand-in-hand.  You truly can't have one without the other.

Having respect for others gives way for courtesy to be shown.  This is made through eye contact, handshakes, smiles, conversation... manners.  Stated differently, it could all be defined as social etiquette. Scouts should lead by example in every way that embodies the very essence of courtesy, respect and, thus, social etiquette. 

Scouts should show genuine respect and courtesy to all people of all race, all religions, all economic statuses, all job descriptions, always... all the time.  

That's a tall order isn't it!?  Sounds almost impossible.  However, you can lead by example!  How? Read on... I love the explanation on the Boy Scout Trail:
Courtesy without an underlying respect and thoughtfulness is a lie. To be courteous requires us to first be caring; to be concerned with the people around us and on the lookout for their wellbeing. Many people, hoping to get ahead, will be very courteous and friendly to people above them in social standing, while at the same time treat lesser ranked people with disdain. We see this often in business where a salesman will be outgoing until he realizes there is no sale to be made and then turns his attention elsewhere. But, the same occurs daily in all social circles. A Scout needs to overcome this temptation and be sure he treats all people with equal respect and courtesy.
The next time you go to a restaurant with a group of friends, make an effort to listen to how many of them say a simple Please or Thank You to the waitress when she takes the order or brings food or water. My experience has been that I am often the only one, and I sincerely make an effort to do it. The first thing I do is read their nametag if they have one and then use their name from then on. I also look at their face and eyes while they are taking the other diners' orders just to get a feel for what they are like. I do this not in the hopes of better service, but so I remind myself that the person waiting on me is just as important as I am and deserving of my respect, courtesy, and appreciation.

One of the reasons we ask boys to "do a good turn daily" is that it helps them learn the art of selfless, joyful service. The act of intentionally DOING for not other reason than the care in your heart for another is living out the Scout Law.  This whole movement was founded on courtesy if you think about it!

Courtesy should begin at home where it may be the most difficult to demonstrate. Remembering to be polite to parents, brothers, and sisters can be a true challenge for a Scout, but one which he needs to overcome to become a man of strong character.

Lord Baden Powell stated that courteousness is much the same sort of thing as chivalry, which is closely allied to honor. Both were practiced in the old days by the knights, who went about risking their lives in order to defend and help the weaker people, women and children, against bullies and marauders.

Why did they do this?

It did not bring them money, for it would be a disgrace to a knight to accept any reward for doing a good turn. It only brought them danger of wounds or death. It was an adventure. They were good sportsmen and manly fellows. Their conscience told them that it was right for the strong and plucky man to protect those who were weaker than himself. They were not obliged to do it by the law of the land, but there was a stronger law which appealed to them--and that was their own sense of honor which led them to be chivalrous men.

Honor was the spirit that moved them; chivalry was the putting into practice what their honor bade them do.

Seeking the opportunity to be chivalrous is to be Scoutlike.  Seeking out the chance to make a difference, not for any reason than to exemplify the courteous nature of your heart.  That, is what a Scout would do, because he is chivalrous.

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