As an Eagle Scout, I have learned many important lessons and values through the Boy Scouts. Service, leadership and community are all key foundations to the scouting experience. When I heard about the remarks made by President Trump during his appearance at the National Jamboree, I was not surprised by the tone, yet it bothered me that he chose to reiterate several points he has used on the campaign trail and since taking office. Thinking about the Scout Oath and Law, it struck me as ironic how we came to a point where Trump is addressing the Boy Scouts as president of the United States.
The Scout Oath consists of three duties for every boy: duty to God, duty to others and duty to self. This is the essence of the oath we take to ourselves and our communities. We are expected to honor our God or Gods in our own time. We are expected to honor our commitments to our communities and those around us. These two duties come before ourselves. We must honor our duty to others before we worry about ourselves. Trump disregards his duty to others if it requires him to make any significant sacrifice; he cares more about his well-being (and that of his family) than that of the people and at times even his political associates.
The Scout Law consists of 12 points: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Trump is not trustworthy. The public record speaks for itself. He lies freely and willingly, testing the very essence of what the truth is.
Trump is loyal to himself. He demands loyalty from those around him (i.e. James Comey). It particularly bothered me that he specifically said, “We could use some more loyalty.” Loyalty to what? To whom?
Trump is not helpful, at least to people who do not benefit him. If someone can enrich him, he will help. He does not seem the kind of person to extend a hand to help those who really need it.
Trump is not friendly. Where is the friendliness in calling the media “enemies of the people”? Where is the friendliness in mocking opponents? Where is the friendliness in treating global politics as “a mess” and that only the strong can prevail in a fight to the death?
Trump is not courteous. He pushed aside the leader of Montenegro in seeking to be at the front of a NATO photo shoot. He fixates on the physical appearance of women and seems to ignore the other qualities that make them amazing people.
Trump is not kind. Kindness means reaching out to political opponents to hammer out a compromise rather than dismissing them as losers or weaklings. Kindness means genuinely thinking about all children who will be affected by your policies, even if they are not citizens of your country.
Trump does not understand obedience. He wants people to obey him, but he refuses to obey the rules and conventions set before him.
Trump is not cheerful. His rhetoric is infused with a dystopian nightmare in which the United States is besieged with enemies at home and abroad and only he can save it. There is no cheer in using fear and hate to drive a political agenda.
Trump is not thrifty. A businessman who has experienced bankruptcy multiple times does not strike me as a model of thriftiness. His willingness to flaunt his wealth is the very antithesis of what thrifty means.
Trump does not seem brave. Refusing to accept the possibility of defeat – whether in an election or in crafting policy – suggests a fear of failure, a fear of being portrayed as weak. Accepting weakness is critical to becoming brave; you have to know your flaws before you can vanquish foes or climb mountains.
Trump is not clean. His ethical conduct appears questionable at best and his speech, while not always profane, can be crass and beneath the dignity of the office he occupies.
Trump is not reverent. He has not displayed commitment to any particular faith, and his disregard for the intimidation of religious minorities indicates a lack of respect for other people’s traditions.
How tragic it is to consider a man who embodies the antithesis of the principles espoused in the Scout Oath and Law is now the president – and his conduct and words can, and undoubtedly will, shape the minds and attitudes of young boys.
William Laney of Cary is an Eagle Scout and a recent graduate from N.C, State University with a Master’s in International Studies.