Subtle Coolness · chrono index · alpha index

Artificial Milestones and Personal Character

by William Jackson on 2009-07-03

This morning Rebecca shared with me a piece of writing about the challenges and benefits Scouting presents to the Scouts, their leaders, and their parents. It is a tender piece, and reminds me of the importance of my calling as 11-year-old Scout leader.

Without criticizing the piece or the author, I wanted to talk about one small line that stuck out at me. Even though Rebecca called my attention to it when she shared the piece with me, I didnʼt expect to be affected so much by it.

My sisters and I didnʼt marry a scout molded under dadʼs tutelage, but we all followed our motherʼs example of choosing an Eagle Scout.

Last month I attended the Eagle Court of Honor for my brother Mark. Iʼm proud to have such a hard-working, smart brother, and Iʼm really happy that I could be there along with several other members of my family.

The thing is, moments like that are fresh reminders to me that, so far, I am the only one of my motherʼs six sons that did not earn the rank of Eagle.

Please donʼt interpret this as some sort of bitterness or regret. I have wonderful memories of my time as a Scout. I also have some terrible memories; I really did not like camping very much. But overall, I learned and grew so much thanks to the Scouting program. And now Iʼm a Scout leader, with the opportunity to give “the next generation” an experience as good as or better than my own.

Earning the rank of Eagle represents real work and dedication. It is usually an indication of a personʼs character, and can foreshadow greater accomplishments later in life. But usually is not always, and someone who did not earn Eagle is not therefore incapable of having the same caliber of personal character, or accomplishing just as much, if not more.

When making choices about who to spend time with, or be friends with, or date, or marry, it can be detrimental to lay an artificial milestone in someoneʼs path: “I will only marry an Eagle Scout.” Thatʼs crazy talk, and unfair to every faithful young man who did not earn Eagle.

It doesnʼt stop there. I remember some missionaries (elders) that went home from my mission telling themselves they would only marry a returned missionary sister. Thatʼs crazy talk, and unfair to every faithful young woman that did not choose to serve a mission.

I will be forever thankful that my wife didnʼt pass me up because I wasnʼt an Eagle Scout. I hope we can teach our children to not judge people by artificial milestones, but by personal character. Eagle Scouts can go bad, and returned missionaries can go inactive. While both achievements are significant and meaningful, they should not be the sole reason to include or exclude someone from the expectation of a life full of happiness, faithfulness, and accomplishment.