I came across this written by B-P. And I thought about the brotherhood I find throughout Scouting, and what wonderful friends I have made over the years. and yes, it is a brotherhood and sisterhood… we are brothers and sisters with a common cause, the desire to see leaders of virtue and character.
I can not begin to explain how happy I am with the adult leaders in our troop. They are generally giving and caring adults with the same common goal that I have… thank you ladies and gentlemen of Troop 518.
When I was in Tunis a good many years ago, I made the acquaintance of a wonderful brotherhood, the White Brothers of the Sahara. The late Cardinal Lavigerie had organized them. They were a kind of revival of the Knights Crusaders. Recruited mainly from the best families in France these young men were a military force of Monks, missionaries prepared to fight in defense of the peaceful folk of their faith if need be. Their territory bordered on that of the Senussi, a race of armed fanatics. Thus, like was set to meet like. The fact that they were warriors as well as monks gave them a double bond of brotherhood where they gave themselves voluntarily, in an ascetic law and dangerous life, to the service of others and to the service of each other. They were a living example of what is possible on a small scale in the direction of goodwill and co-operation, which we want to bring about more generally in the world today.
The White Brothers, like the Scouts, were a movement rather than an organization. That is, they came into it of their own desire to do something for their kind without thought of reward. So long as that spirit is there the Brotherhood is all right. But, mind you, self slips in unexpectedly sometimes; maybe it takes the form of a feeling that one is blessed with a gift for making a specially fine troop, or one is keen to show ones patriotism to be greater than ones neighbors; or one rather fancies oneself in a backwoodsmans kit, and so on. Harmless weaknesses, but giving expression to Self.
Search yourself and see that you are free from it. Otherwise there is bound to follow some little sense of rivalry, some little difference of ideals with your neighbors, from which springs, if not envy or dislike, at least aloofness. In other words, not quite the right spirit is engendered.
Brothers we are to our boys, brothers to each other we must be, if we are going to do any good. Only the other day I saw a letter from a Scouter who had been having a hard struggle to carry on his Troop single-handed in a poor slum, and his spirit had been depressed not by his difficulties but by his utter isolation and the very little spirit of fellowship shown by those around him who might have given a helping hand.
Whose fault it was I dont know, but such aloofness or jealousy could not exist where there is the true ideal of brotherhood. What we need, and what, thank God, weve got in most places in our movement, is not merely the spirit of good-natured tolerance but of watchful sympathy and readiness to help one another. We not only need it but weve got to have it if we are going to teach our boys by the only sound way. That is through our own example, that greatest of principles: goodwill and co-operation.
BP – March 1926.