Scoutmaster Musings - Brave


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Scoutmaster Musings

Brave
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is brave. A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him."

From a young boy screwing up the courage to look under his bed at night to an old man sharing stories of his life while on his deathbed, bravery comes in many shapes, sizes, and degrees. Bravery is certainly not the lack of fear, but the strength to overcome that fear. Without fear, there's no need for bravery.

Fear is a feeling you have based on your surroundings. If you sense danger, you feel fear. It's a natural and useful feeling. When a Scout experiences fear, he can either control it or let it control him. Courage controls fear and allows a Scout to keep a cool head, rise above the danger, and act in a brave way. When fear controls the person, he loses his sense of honor and his gut instinct of self-preservation takes over, causing acts of cowardice.

Cowardly acts are wide-ranging. Any situation in which a Scout finds himself can result in an act of courage or cowardice. Does he try to save a drowning man or stay on the safe shore? Does he stand up to a bully or walk away while a small child is harassed? Does he volunteer to lead a hike or stay in the back of the pack?

As a Scout matures, he must understand the tense feeling that comes up in his body when he experiences fear. He needs to train himself to respond to that feeling with a courageous rather than cowardly response. The specific situation does not matter. What is fearful for one person with little experience may be of no concern for someone else that has been through it before. Shooting a rifle, swimming underwater, climbing a tree, giving a speech, hiking at night are all examples of tasks that may be quite comfortable to one person but terrifying to another. Bravery is not needed for the one, but necessary for the other.

A Scout needs to defend the weak, defend the truth, and defend his honor. Opportunities abound in daily life to demonstrate his commitment to these defenses. The brave Scout has a generous and kind heart, willing to put the needs of others ahead of his own. A person that is self-centered and brave may do courageous acts, but they will be based on the guide of self-preservation, much like the cowardly response to fear. When bravery is demonstrated in an act to aid others, that is admirable because the Scout has done his duty to others.

Since fear is a base human emotion, it is not a bad thing as is often thought. Fear gives strength and focus and, as long as it is controlled, is a powerful force to perform great feats. Scouts should be encouraged to approach fearful situations, whatever they are for that Scout, head-on and with purpose. Taking on small challenges that are fearful to a young boy but have no real danger, such as looking under a bed or opening a closet door, helps him understand that fear of the unknown is most common. As he realizes with his mind that there is no real danger, his fear disappears. He also comes to accept that unknown or unseen possibilities should not be feared, but anticipated with relish to expand his experiences in the world. This is a big leap to take and a great step in maturity.

Most boys want to be strong and brave, much like movie heros, able to overcome any obstacle. To prove themselves, they may do foolish things that are actually dangerous, such as walking a fence, jumping a creek, or fighting a bigger boy. These reckless challenges have consequences but have always and most probably will always be a part of a boy's life in some form or another. When a boy does such a task to prove his courage to himself, it can strengthen his resolve in other situations. But, if he is prompted to the task to win approval from other boys, he is actually being cowardly in bowing to their pressure.

This easily demonstrated physical bravery is obvious - the boy attempts the task or chickens out. A more subtle, internal bravery is that which compels a Scout to uphold his moral ideals. When he is tempted to lie, cheat, steal, or cover for someone else doing those things, he must be brave to decline and even more brave to tell authorities if necessary. By not going with the crowd, he may be ridiculed, outcast, or harassed. When the group is heading down a course that goes against the Scout's beliefs, the Scout Oath and Law, he is brave to stand and offer a different course. If he is overruled, then he must make the brave choice of leaving the group.

A Scout's moral ideals also help him to be brave when faced with challenges whose outcomes may only ever be known by him. Whether walking past a crying child without stopping or glancing at a classmate's test, fear can make us take the easiest, safest path. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of looking foolish, fear takes many forms and may cause bad habits. Making excuses and blaming others for mistakes rather than accepting the blame for actions and apologizing for mistakes are habits formed of fear. The Scout brave enough to accept consequences for his decisions is brave indeed.

A Scout is Brave.
Posted: 11:32 02-01-2008 304
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