Sunday, July 27, 2008

Philosophy of Change

Too bad we don't live closer so we could go on a 30 mile bike ride and chatter all the way. I have a professional friend who needs to get away from his place of business and when he is "up the wall" with stress he calls and says "Let's go for a bike ride." He then 'dumps' on me what he can not say in the office/shop to anyone. I am afraid that I 'dumped' on you today and apologize for taking so much of your time. I am feeling a lot better about getting my house in order and trying to find a use for my life experiences.

When at the University of Wisconsin I participated in a seminar on the evaluation of values. It was taught by a 'John Dewey Professor of Philosophy' and was probably one of the most influential academic experiences I had while in the doctoral program at U.Wisconsin, Madison. When I look at the 'use value' of scouting values I find that they are 'right on' when it comes to survival in our social environment. But each generation (or rather, continually) we have to re-evaluate the value in its operational format to see if the value is still consistant with survival given the nature of the continually changing environment. It is the operational definition of the value (how do you operationalize ''loyal," "friendly," etc. ? ) that gets us into trouble with those who make the definitions. [There are good and bad people in this world and the good make all the definitions.]

A value held because it is 'mine' rather than because it is 'useful' has little survival value for the institution. What is the value of camping when most of our youth live in an urban environment, in the urban jungle rather than the one of dense vegetation and massive snakes? Can the organization adapt and, while holding on to the core values, change the operational definition of those values, i.e., how they are to be acted out in daily living?

I can take this into the realm of Chinese philosophy and the argument between 't'i and yung, between chin-wen and gu-wen schools of philosophy. It is really a philosophy of social change.

BSA leadership ignores these forces of change at their peril.

'nuf of that.

The question before me now is "how can my life experiences be of USE to the BSA and the Monmouth County Council, BSA"? Putting my collection of scouting artifacts in a box in the back room of the museum is not the answer. Using this material to illustrate the impact of core values of scouting on the life of an individual scout and the impact this has had not only in his life but in the lives of disadvantaged populations in many diverse nations all over the world, might be of use in reinforcing the pragmatic value of those wordy abstractions and lofty ideals.

Regards, and thanks for the ear.


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