Thursday, April 18, 2013

Membership Policy

I have not as yet said anything here about the membership policy review coming up at the BSA annual meeting.  For my part, I feel that the more people Scouting allows itself to serve, the better.  I'm not threatened by the prospect of a more inclusive membership policy. I'm cognizant of all sides of the argument, but I have to believe that the Scout movement transcends these political squabbles.

Commemorative plaque
Last weekend my wife gave me a road trip for my birthday.  I drove solo to Utah's west desert and one of the places I stopped was the Topaz relocation center.  This was one of FDR's Japanese-American internment camps.  It's amazing the things we will do to assuage our fears: over 120,000 American citizens were summarily rounded up and displaced to ten different middle-of-nowheres around the country.  No charges, no trials.  Their offense was their Japanese ancestry in the wake of the attack on  Pearl Harbor. They were punished simply for being who they were.

Topaz was a single section* of land - one square mile - that housed over 8,000 people, and was one of the larger of the camps.  The internees lived in uninsulated barracks for four cold, Utah winters and hot, dry summers. Ironically one of the only ways out was to join the same army that sent them there in the first place.

Site map - one square mile
It's hard to think about that injustice and at the same time accept that an organization as great as the Boy Scouts of America would voluntarily exclude an entire group of people for differences that frankly I don't feel matter in the context of Scouting.  There are those on both sides who will disagree with my position. That's fine, for those arguments have much merit.  There are others who want to infuse this argument with more politics than common sense or compassion, where the former is not warranted.  That's not fine.  However, I feel that if we let our judgement be clouded by unfounded (and in many cases, unjustifiable) fears, we will have missed the awful lessons of Topaz, not to mention an opportunity to have a positive effect on many people.

Ironically appropriate make-shift sign next to the memorial

The desert reclaims the Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah, site

On a little lighter note, this was my campsite: Notch Peak, in the House Range.
There's something about being the only person in a hundred square miles
that's just exhilarating.

Prepared. | For Life.™

*Section 20, Township 16-South, Range 8-West, Millard County, UT

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