December 9, 2009

A Scout is Brave

JGrahamBy James N. Graham

50+ Lifestyles has been exploring the code of ethics known as the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law

In consideration of the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, 50+ Lifestyles has been exploring the code of ethics known as the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. To date, we have been reminded that a Scout is “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty‚” and now “Brave.”

Bravery is a concept which encompasses both prowess and nerve. A brave person is not necessarily fearless but rather is able to proceed and to perform at a high level despite unnerving circumstances.

Bravery is nearly universally admired and has been valued and respected throughout human history. The Plains Indians, for example, had a tradition which came to be known by the French phrase of “counting coup.” Warriors would perform acts of bravery in order to earn a notch on a coup stick. Coup might be earned by touching an enemy warrior and then escaping or by sneaking into camp to steal a pony from an enemy. The objective was to gain prestige by performing acts of bravery rather than to injure an opponent.

This country recently celebrated Veterans Day. This is a time when our society shows appreciation for the men and women in the Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much in protecting and serving our nation. The highest military decoration awarded in the US is the Medal of Honor, which is granted to one who goes above and beyond the call of duty “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life.” In other words, this award epitomizes true bravery.

Bravery also is required in circumstances more mundane than battle. While it is perfectly reasonable to be afraid under some circumstances, bravery is a means of overcoming fear in order to persevere. A sound financial plan, for example, is easy to follow when the market is growing rapidly. When the financial markets contract, it is understandable that a person may be afraid of the results. However, if the plan is sound, why not follow it even when times are scary?