One of my favorite books is Jane Eyre. When I was a teenager, I read it several times, drawn to the story of Jane trying to determine who she is and who she wants to be. It’s a nineteenth century book, and seems very old fashioned to modern readers. But I am still captivated by the journey of the main character. At one point in the story Jane is offered everything she wants if she will violate her principles. She thinks to herself, why not? Who cares how I get what I want. Who cares for me? Then she answers herself:
I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation. . . . They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane
By choosing to adhere to her principles, Jane demonstrated that she might have been a scout. She chose to put the kind of person she wanted to be over the things she wanted. Would you trade everything you ever desired: Love, Belonging and Worldly Wealth, for your principles? Which of those principles would you feel the hardest to violate. Could you tell a lie to get wealth? Could you be unkind to get a better position? How unkind and to whom?
Every week when we say those 12 words, it’s easy. You’ve memorized them, and we say them together in a musical rhythm. What your leaders hope for you, is that when you are alone, when it seems like you’re friendless and unsustained, you will hear the voices of your scout friends saying those 12 words, and you will choose the kind of person you want to be over the things you want: that you will choose to be a scout.