My beautiful wife and fun-loving boys spent some time in Gatlinburg, Tennessee last week. It’s my third trip with my family, but I’ve been there at least a dozen times before that. I have many memories of Gatlinburg growing up. Each year I was in Boy Scouts, we would take a ski trip over a long weekend in January. I remember fondly playing in the Space Needle arcade, eating at the breakfast buffet at Shoney’s, riding the aerial tram up to Ober Gatlinburg, and skiing and ice skating on top of the mountain. I remember scenic chairlifts, snow machines, and swimming in an indoor/outdoor heated pool in the snow. In my college years at Young Harris College in Northeast Georgia, some friends and I would just head up for the weekend and enjoy ourselves. Lots of memories have been made in Gatlinburg.
My first trip to Gatlinburg with my family involved just my wife and it was our first trip as a family. It was our honeymoon! More memories were made in Gatlinburg that week, but I also shared many of the same sights with her. Our second trip was 5 years ago with our kids and they fell in love with Gatlinburg too. I guess 5 years is too long because they forgot a lot about the place during that time. Last week, we made some new memories and it’s so great to make them with your family. We rented a home on the mountain on the south side of downtown with my parents and brother. We all made memories and it was a great time even though we hardly saw the sunshine.
A main theme for the weekend was to find wildlife. We saw several deer, several turkeys, a few bears, a groundhog, and an elk during our 4+ days there. Not too bad if you ask me. If you’ve been to Gatlinburg, you know how many entertainment options you have. We tried to create a “best of” activity list where we did a little bit of everything.
It’s been some time since my last post and I regret it’s been so long. Life got in the way for a bit, but I do intend to blog more regularly. Which brings me to my next topic… Time. I’ve struggled over the years with how to best spend my time. There are certainly things I need to do with my time for necessity. You know, eat (sometimes), sleep (sometimes), work for a paycheck, things like that. Then there are things I do because they are good things to do. I volunteer my time at church, for scouting, for the local soccer club, for friends and family, etc. It’s all good stuff and worthy of my time. It’s not like I’m out drinking or gambling every night, you know? Then, there are things that need to be done for your kids and their activities. Driving kids around town to their various activities can take a good amount of time, but it’s all worth it when you get to see them perform on stage or on the field, right? There’s also things I do for myself, like watch a favorite show on TV or go to a ballgame. All of these things are important for a well balanced life. But as I’ve learned (and I’m sure most of you have too), you must be careful with your time.
When your schedule gets filled up with all of these important items, there are some important aspects of your life that get ignored. And I’ve learned that I need to adjust my schedule some to compensate and make room. Here are some things I’ve noticed that I won’t make time for if I don’t work at it. They aren’t in any particular order, but are all important.
In my last post, I was very critical of the decision that BSA’s national council made to change the membership policy. Despite my harsh criticism and amazement at that decision, BSA is very important to me. I am an Eagle Scout and proud parent of a Life Scout (close to Eagle) and a Webelos Scout. Scouting has made a huge impact on my life. As a youth, I learned leadership, organization, teamwork, and character skills that I use in my daily life now. I made friends that are important to me to this day. As an adult leader, I have made amazing friends that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. And these are the types of friends you want to have, you know? The ones that you can rely on. As an adult leader I also enjoy seeing boys mature right before my eyes. As a parent, I enjoy watching my sons take on more responsibility and be more independent. It’s fun to see them start to “get it”.
Some are mad at BSA and want to dismiss them, boycott, or quit. This would be a big mistake! BSA is an amazing organization – mostly built around volunteers, local churches and civic groups, and scouts and their families. Just because we get frustrated with something that BSA does doesn’t mean we should leave. Heck, as involved as I am I see plenty of things to get frustrated about! There is no other organization in the world like BSA and it is important to youth (primarily boys) in America and in your community. BSA needs your support. And our youth and communities need BSA.
Those that know me well know that I’m an Eagle Scout and got re-involved in the scouting program as an adult with my sons. I am involved as a Cubmaster for a Pack, Committee Chairman for a Troop, and I’ve served in several volunteer positions at the district level as well. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in the scouting program and I believe in the program and enjoy it. The decision to change the membership policy to allow openly gay scouts is very troubling to me and there are big changes on the way for the Boy Scouts of America and I’m not sure how positive they will be. Financial giving has suffered greatly and some long time volunteers are resigning. Some charter partners are severing their relationships with BSA. Before anyone jumps to conclusions and assumes I’m an anti-gay bigot, please read on.
I have 2 main issues with BSA’s decision. One is the fact that topics of sexuality of any sort don’t belong in scouting. The simple fact that an openly gay scout is now welcome in the organization brings this topic to the forefront. “Hey, mom – Johnny says he’s gay. What does that mean?” This doesn’t belong as part of the conversation in scouting just as last Friday’s romantic evening with my wife doesn’t belong. It just doesn’t, period. The previous membership policy, if I understand it correctly, was more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy”. There is no part of the BSA application that asks for sexual orientation. Since sexuality is not part of scouting, you shouldn’t ever be asked and you shouldn’t ever tell.
The other issue I have with the decision is why and how the membership policy change even came to be and what this means for the future. I am a Christian and I believe that Secular Progressives are constantly trying to remove God from everything and push their secular values throughout society. There are several examples of how they are doing this and succeeding. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, good for them. If Christians were more vocal, perhaps the Progressives wouldn’t be as successful as they are. But Boy Scouts of America is a private organization that is able to choose a membership policy based on the Scout Oath and Law.
As I alluded to in my previous post, I think there are 2 main problems in society today in the United States. Those issues are lack of tolerance and passivity of many. Why are so many people so easily offended? And if you are offended, isn’t that okay? I don’t recall the constitution guaranteeing that citizens not be offended. Many times when people get offended, they lash out and show their lack of tolerance. Don’t like a cross that’s sitting in someone’s yard? Ok, so what? Ignore it. They may not like your car or your dog or your wife… Just show some tolerance and deal with it! Don’t like the law that was passed or a court decision made? Before you go protest or shoot your mouth off, perhaps you should think about it some. Perhaps some tolerance is in order. As Rodney King said, “Can we all get along?”
On the flip side, another equally troubling trend in America today is passivity by most people. Why do we have such a low turnout for elections? Part of this is fueled by ignorance, but it’s also fueled by apathy. Why are so many people in the majority sit back while the few “squeaky wheels” on the far right and far left fight for the causes? Why do Christians sit back calmly while the Secular Progressives work so hard to remove God from everything? Is it laziness? A false sense of security? Are we just too darn polite? For once I would like to see more “mainstream” Americans would voice their opinions in a positive, productive manner. Why do we hear so much more from the crazies on the right and left?
We need to strike a balance of more tolerance on topics that shouldn’t be so important and productive debate and engagement on topics that are very important to our country. All of us should pay attention to what our government is doing and support it by voting, protesting (in a productive, non-violent manner), and voicing our opinions. But before we do any of this, we should be educated about the issues. What do you think? I can think of some other major issues, but do you consider these to be important?
I am proud to call myself a Christian. My faith is a big part of my life and I’m not ashamed to share that fact. I only hope that my actions on a daily basis don’t give Christianity a bad name. I do my best to think before I do and to try to make those actions acceptable to God. Of course, I’m human and I sometimes have a temper… So, this doesn’t always happen. Just like everyone else, I’m a sinner – no doubt. When I was thinking of what my very first blog post should be about, I was certain it should be about the most important thing in my life – my relationship with God. Corgis, Braves Baseball, Auburn Football, Elton John music, Apple Computers, and scouting will have to wait. But not for long…
I feel many times that there is a conflict between tolerance and standing up for what you believe. I also think that passivity and lack of tolerance are our country’s 2 main issues. Let me attempt to explain myself. We all believe in certain values and have opinions for what is right and what is wrong. Most Americans agree on most values and that’s why we have a largely peaceful society. The problem occurs when we don’t share the same values. I believe in Christian values. You may have other values. Don’t you think you should stand up for what you believe? What if you just keep your mouth shut and stand by passively? That certainly doesn’t accomplish anything and either shows you are lethargic about your “cause”. So how do you stand up for what you believe and still be tolerant of others opinions? I will attempt to do this on this blog. Keep reading and I’ll explore this some more.