These days it’s hard to trust the driver in the next lane, the teenager swiping your credit card at the drive-thru or the stranger reading your Facebook and Twitter posts. So I’m grateful there’s at least one group of people you still can trust: Scouts.
If you don’t believe me that Americans trust one another less than they used to, just look at this Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in October (PDF link). It reveals Americans don’t much trust people when driving, shopping, dining out, traveling, hiring workers to come in their homes or posting on social media.
Sixty-seven percent of Americans trust people who swipe their credit card when making a purchase “just somewhat,” “not too much” or “not at all.” Just 30 percent of Americans trust other drivers on the road “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” And 78 percent of respondents said they trust people they meet when traveling “just somewhat,” “not too much” or “not at all.”
Those figures are enough to make anyone want to stay home, lock the doors and board up the windows.
But before you become a recluse, think of the millions of Scouts and Scouters out there. To me, Scouting represents one of our country’s last great hopes for stemming the tide of cynicism in America. After all, “trustworthy” is the first point in the Boy Scout Law, which Boy Scouts (and soon Cub Scouts and Venturers) memorize, recite and live by.
The Boy Scout Handbook describes “trustworthy” thusly: “A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.”
That’s a refreshing change in a world where most Americans immediately assume every driver around us is drunk and texting, everyone who comes in our home is going to rob us and every restaurant waiter is stealing our credit card number or tampering with our food.
You’re likely to witness Scouts and Venturers, on the other hand, returning a dropped $20 bill, rendering life-saving first aid and participating in service projects. And not just when they’re in uniform or on an official pack, troop or crew event.
So here’s your challenge: Find even more young men and women to join Scouting and benefit from its values. And, of course, continue to prepare Scouts already in the program for a world in which trust is at an all-time low.
Together we can use Scouting to turn this dishonesty trend around. Trust me.
Today I challenge you to really consider that first point of the Scout Law. And, in the comments section below, to share times when you’ve observed Scouts being remarkably trustworthy.