Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

Boy Scouts: Placing a Caveat on Family Values

August 10, 2012

The Boy Scouts has been an institution in American life for decades. Many boys have worked through the ranks of Scouts, earning badges, taking oaths and gaining life skills. The group, which strives to produce responsible, morally upstanding young men, also has an anti-gay policy.

It is absurd to think that a group dedicated to teaching integrity, teamwork and leadership, would choose to be so closed minded and exclusive.

Recently, a group of adult Eagle Scouts, the highest and most prestigious rank in Scouting, has renounced the organization by returning their much-coveted award.

On the Tumblr site appropriately named “ Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges”, letters to the Boy Scouts of America are featured in protest of their discriminatory policies.

One former Eagle Scout so eloquently refers to his hard earned medal as “…a faded, tarnished symbol of outdated thinking, prejudice and intolerance.”

I have proudly attended the Eagle Scout ceremonies of my nephews, and celebrated their accomplishments in achieving a rank that only a small percentage has the tenacity and drive to reach.  While I commend their achievements, it hard to support an organization whose values are so misguided.

The Scouts speak of being reverent, loyal and brave.

To be reverent, is to show respect. We should be teaching our children to respect others, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation. To be loyal, is to be supportive of your friends, regardless of your differences. To be brave is to stand up for your beliefs, even if they challenge the status quo. Sadly, The Boy Scouts of America are not teaching the values they stand for, when there are caveats attached.

Someday, our grandchildren will look back at this period of establishing gay rights with the shame we feel when we think about our ancestors forcing blacks to sit in the back of the bus, or prohibiting women from voting.

Our country was founded on the principles of freedom and equality. It is a shame that one of the groups synonymous with American family values would hold onto outdated notions of discrimination.

photo: Glasshouse Images 

Memories of 9/11

September 11, 2010

It was a beautiful day, much like today, with hardly a cloud in the sky and a clear view straight downtown to where the World Trade Towers once stood.

I was at work, getting ready for a meeting when someone told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  With New York City’s 3 major airports in close proximity, we all assumed it was a plane crash. Minutes later, when news of the second plane hitting the other tower came through, we knew it was somehow much, much worse.

With no phone service, and no public transportation, we all began walking. People were swarming out of all of the buildings in midtown, panicking, and trying to get home.

As we walked I could see the smoke obscuring the skyline that had changed so completely since I set out that morning.  Just past my street, the city had been closed off to everyone but the rescue teams.

I arrived home, eager to make sure that my family was safe. People had gathered in the dining room, glued to the television set, trying to piece together what had happened. The father of one of my husband’s assistants had been in one of the towers, and had walked to our apartment for safety.  Another’s wife had just gotten off the subway at the World Trade Center stop when she followed the swarms of people running uptown, and had taken refuge at our home as well.  My baby daughter, recently adopted from China, sat quietly in her high chair, watching the planes fly into the buildings over and over again.

As the days progressed, the situation became more and more real. People wandered the streets of my neighborhood aimlessly, posting signs and looking for reports of their missing loved ones at St. Vincent’s Hospital, the designated trauma center just a few blocks away.  The streets remained closed and deliveries were suspended in the area, leaving grocery store shelves empty.  The sirens stopped at some point and the city was eerily silent.

Sometimes, if the television stayed off, it was possible to push it all aside.  But when the wind blew, the smoke and the acrid smell of burning buildings, burning aircrafts and burning flesh permeated everything.

While I did not personally know anyone who perished in the towers, it was impossible to live in lower Manhattan and separate oneself from the grief and the fear that gripped us all.

Each year, when September 11 rolls around, I am surprised to see that the memories have not faded. I think of all of the people who lost their lives that day, and the heroes that saved the lives of so many others.

I strongly believe that today should be a day of mourning, and remembering, and not one clouded by protests and acts of hatred.

Nine years later, we are a country at war, with countless innocent lives lost as a result of this horrible incident.  We cannot be a country whose people are so consumed in hatred that we deny others the freedoms we take for granted. The terrorists flying the planes that day showed no prejudice…the people that perished were of all races and religions, including Muslim. Let’s put our personal agendas aside today and honor the memories of those who lost their lives.  It may not be enough to create world peace, but it certainly is a very tiny step in the right direction.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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