A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


"Be Prepared"

I didn't even know that they had Boy Scouts in Maldives, but this article in USA Today caught my eye. Apparently, a teenage scout in full uniform saved the president of Maldives when a potential assassin came towards him with a knife.I don't know what kind of popularity ratingPresident Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is scoring these days, but the articlemade me wonder whether a Boy Scout here in the UnitedStates would be as quick to risk his life for George W. I generally think of the Boy Scouts of America as a pretty conservative organization, especially in light of articles like this one from early December, but I wonder if an Eagle Scout would be willing to jump into harm's way and fight for President Bush. Heck, I wonder if I would.

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Fortunately for us there are many Americans, especially in our law enforcement, security services, and armed forces, who do not base their bravery and heroism on "popularity rating[s]". On a side note, as a former Boy Scout myself, Mr. Ibrahim is to be lauded for reflecting great credit on himself and upholding the highest traditions of Scouting.

I have voted against George Bush twice; I think he should be impeached, but if I could thwart an assasination attempt on his life I would leap to do so. As a former scout leader I would expect the vast majroity of Eagle scouts to do so as well.

As the father of an Eagle Scout I echo MAT's posting.I am not sure how to say this, but as much as I often disagree with Commonweal contributers, there is a line between being controversial, and being childish and offensive, and Ms. Tierney has crossed it in my opinion. This post is not in keeping with the standards of Commonweal, which many who read this blog know I find frequently wrongheaded, but commonly decent and intelligent.As for this specific post, it may surprise Ms Tierney that there are whole groups of people, such as mentioned by MAT, who hold the virtues of courage, patriotism, and selflessness above their personal political predelictions. I spent 8 of my twenty-one years of military service under a Commander-in-Chief with whose politics I disagreed and whose personal and professional ethical and moral behavior I found abhorent. Neither I nor the vast majority of my comrades who held similar opinions ever said anything publically against the man, and would have held any military member who did in great disregard. We valued our duty above politics.This post reminds me of the time in early 1981 when as a college student eating lunch in the dining commons a PA announcement came accross saying that President Reagan had been shot and was in surgery. About a dozen students and one faculty member stood up and cheered - much, I believe and hope they later realized, to their great shame.

I realize the post is about Boy Scouts, on which I cannot comment. However a large number of people will risk their lives by diving into icy rivers or running into burning buildings to save the lives of complete strangers. There have been studies done of why they do this, although I cannot give the names or dates of them. The conclusion seems to be that, as these heroes report to the press, "I didn't think. I just did it." It isn't only because of group affiliation or military training. It is just something that some people do, sometimes losing their own lives in the process. It's an interesting subject.

Mr. Hannaway, I apologize for having offended you and I can promise that I certainly would not cheer if the president was shot. I merely found the article interesting and wanted to see if others had any comments. I'm glad to know of your thoughts and I welcome further discussion.

Ms. Tierney,First, let me say I am not personally offended. I meant offensive in the sense of being in very poor taste.More importantly, it is clear that you intended to tie the worthiness of an act to protect the president to his popularity and political beliefs with references to these facts explicitly. That is the stuff of bad jokes, not thoughtful dialogue. As Catholics, it is an idea that we should find morally repugnant.

I think that any act of genuine protection is praise-worthy & I think that Ms. Colburn's thoughts on premeditated heroics vs. spontaneous heroics add another dimension to this dialogue. I know, for example, that I would be quick to jump in a pool to save a helpless child, but I don't know how quick I would be to step in and try to save a world leader who is supposed to be guarded by trained professionals. I might just try to stay out of the way.

OK - Ms Tierney, now you are just being plain disengenous. That is clearly not the kind of "discussion" you were aiming at -"I dont know what kind of popularity rating President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is scoring these days, but the article made me wonder whether a Boy Scout here in the United States would be as quick to risk his life for George W. ""I generally think of the Boy Scouts of America as a pretty conservative organization . . . but I wonder if an Eagle Scout would be willing to jump into harms way and fight for President Bush. Heck, I wonder if I would."You weren't talking about a non-descript "world leader" protected by "trained professionals." You were asking whether EVEN a conservative Boy Scout would bother to save the life of that unpopular, miserable miscreant George Bush.If you wanted to talk about courage and what causes people to risk their lives for others, why even bring Bush into it? The story had nothing to do with him. Moreover, what does the Boy Scout's policy on homosexual members and alleged conservatism have to do with your supposed topic? Clearly, the first two responses understood your meaning the same way I did.As my dear Dad likes to say, I was born at night, but not last night. Save the spin cycle for the wash.

I am married to an Eagle Scout (once a scout always a scout). I know he would act to protect a president he didn't like or agree with--as he would act to protect anyone in dire straits. Of course, if said president survived, the Eagle Scout might offer a discourse on responsible decision making in matters of war and peace.

The point I was trying to make is that no one can know in advance how he or she will respond in a situation of this type. To be effective the act must be instantaneous, leaving no time for thought. No studies of these situations have shown that any factor, religion, politics, knowing or not knowing the person in danger, seems be be a determining factor in the decision. It just happens for some people and not for others. So all speculation on the subject, in my opinion, is useless. I found no objection to the post, itself.

Boy, you Boy Scouts are a prickly bunch.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment