As a sometime worshiper of Random, the God of Reality (a real tosser!) I have no particular reading program. But I landed on this page this morning, reading the New York Times as I sometimes do. It's an editorial about the Boy Scouts, by Paul Theroux, an author I enjoy even though he sometimes comes off as a bit perverted.
I guess he was responding to some recent massive settlement against the Boy Scouts, U.S.A for some pedophilia among its masters. Some vague echo of the Catholic Church, with maybe a little bit of Nazi Youth thrown in. You know how those vectors go, right? German, Catholic, conclusion!
Well, tending a bit in the direction of 'Boy Scouts are Nazi youth' myself, I was happy to be reminded by Theroux of my own actual experience in the Boy Scouts, which was virtually identical to his. It was indeed a kind of revenge of the nerds, and we learned stuff which remains important to us still. I also did my share of lifesaving, as the result of Boy Scout training.
The thing he left out though, is that, in my case, we all knew, if we were alert, that the scoutmaster (R.I.P.) truly did want to molest us, each and every one. That didn't make us nervous, scared, afraid, nor our parents either, and I don't think they were all that clueless. And let me tell you, we did some things in our tents which would have tweaked the interest of any pervert I can imagine. I'm pretty sure all boys do.
No code of honor was ever broken to my knowledge. I later learned that plenty of codes of unspoken honor did get broken among the jocks who weren't boy scouts, by a swim coach who likely admired my young body too. I'm glad I was clueless as to those goings on. Really really glad.
I was never tempted to drugs by some Pied Piper adult with charisma. I was never introduced to wine nor naked pictures in a magazine nor the mysteries of naked touch by any adults of my acquaintance. We skinny dipped, just like my Dad did right in high school which is the way gym was run in the good old days. (He was an Eagle Scout, something which never did interest me). But I came by my knowledge the old fashioned way, from my peers.
It was as much up to us kids to enforce the adult/child boundary as it was up to the adults. These days, with adults injecting themselves into nearly every moment of a child's life, how are the kids to learn a thing about "good boundaries?" Kids don't even ride bicycles alone anymore, and I think that's a fact worth mourning.
So, dear reader, the guilty party is probably the super parent who looks at you from your mirror. Thank God I'm a slacker. The Nazi youth is what's being created now by too many new rules about who can't and shouldn't and won't be allowed to do whatever.
That's the straight and narrow which provokes the deviant. Along with Paul Theroux, I guess I'm lucky to have been a member of a troop of slackers. But we sure did learn to canoe to hike to cook over fires, to swim to run rapids, to stay calm in emergencies, to make decisions according to a chain of responsibility. Our uniforms were slovenly. Maybe that's what protected us.
Happy Birthday Dad!! Thanks for leaving me alone so much of the time. Honest! I've found my own way out of the woods. Nearly.