Recently, the U.S. State Department announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson–a Distinguished Eagle Scout and former BSA national president–will send out hand-signed congratulatory letters to new Eagle Scouts (as well as recipients of Girl Scouting’s Gold Award). In case you missed the announcement, you can learn more on Bryan’s Blog and on the State Department website.
Of course, depending on how you voted last November and your position on the oil and gas industry–Tillerson is former CEO of Exxon Mobil–and maybe even whether you like Texans, you may view this news as terrific or terrible. Similarly (or maybe the right adverb is oppositely), many people had strong opinions about receiving congratulatory cards from President Obama over the last eight years.
So here’s my opinion.
When we express visceral reactions to a congratulatory letter or card from Rex Tillerson or Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Donald Trump (once the White House Greetings Office starts sending out Eagle Scout congratulations over his signature), we get our politics mixed up with our patriotism, and we forget that the BSA is a nonpartisan organization. Just as we shouldn’t show up at campaign rallies in our Scout uniforms, we shouldn’t turn Eagle courts of honor into opportunities to promote our political views, which may or may not align with those of the Scout we’re there to honor.
And in the midst of making political statements that are as impactful as Facebook shares–not very, in other words–we obscure a more important point: that it’s a pretty big deal that government officials and business leaders of all political leanings agree that becoming an Eagle Scout is something worth celebrating.
Years ago, I heard a great saying: “If it’s not for the boys, it’s for the birds.” Perhaps that saying should guide you as you request, receive, and read Eagle Scout congratulatory letters.
For more great ideas, check out my ebook, Showtime: 45 Top Tips from EagleBook.com and The Eagle Court of Honor Book; it costs just $2.99 and is available for immediate download from both EagleBook.com and Amazon.com.