Scouts Nook in December

by Csaba Orbán, translated by Derick Pasternak

#5 The Hungarian Scout is gentle toward others, strict with himself

In January 2022 our Scout Troop initiated a series of articles explaining the essence of our movement to individuals who are interested but not familiar with it.  These are instructional principles, based on the ten Laws of Scouting.

At the beginning of the past century, during the time when scouting was a mere dream, there was an idea of building an organization with a moral codex into the lives of young people which they could accept voluntarily.

We felt most of the young people would understand and accept the concepts of this codex as good, not only for them and their friends, but also for the entire human race.

The laws were soon drafted and often modified since then. Today, scouts from many national organizations have developed various scout laws, which vary in their forms and number.  However, the effort to educate a better more caring generation than the previous one was their common goal.

Ten laws were drafted for the Hungarian Scouts (not cub scouts), similar to the laws of Moses.  They differ in that they do not order but seek to show the way. 

Let us now look at the fifth law: The scout is gentle toward others, strict with himself. This law, like all the other laws, has only one meaning, and cannot be misunderstood by an honest person.  


Our series of laws teaches truth telling, instills a sense of duty and the scout’s desire to help others, and one recent addition promotes scouts’ love of each other.  I emphasize relationships with both self and others, as these differ.

During Advent and other seasons, I reminisce, decorate our home (with assistance, of course), clear up my desk, and reorganize the scouting closet. Every time I touch familiar item, I greet it like an old acquaintance, and receive its message in the form of memories.

Recently in the course of straightening the scouting materials I happened upon an apparently meaningless piece of paper that announced “I SHALL NOT BE LATE!“  I smiled as I re-read that proclamation.  It reminded me of not only one, but twin successes.  These are the times when I recognize how much joy exists in our world, and how we experience happiness despite periodic difficulties.

The old the proverb “when it rains, it pours,” refers to troubles coming in waves.  There is another old saying “nothing ever happens without something happening”.  {translator’s note: untranslatable Hungarian saying from an old movie or song}.  Nowadays, the popular saying seems to be “I DESERVE ONLY GOOD THINGS, EASILY, FREE OF COST, AND IMMEDIATELY!” 

Needless to say, this does not apply to our readers, but undoubtedly everyone knows someone who can be described by the above.  In all likelihood the person who typifies the expression is not a Scout, as Scouts who live by the scout laws think otherwise.

As my thoughts wandered, I had another look at the paper from which “I SHALL NOT BE LATE!” winked back at me like a playful urchin.  Its simplicity reminded me how many different ways we can improve ourselves, and every day we can work on being better than we were yesterday.

The “good job” greeting of scouts has the unstated message that even the most difficult endeavor will bring self-improvement.      

The above-mentioned paper’s bold notation was created when my day job interfered with my preparation for the Scouts’ meeting.   I was working on the program late at night, not making much progress.  Frustrated, tired, and nursing a headache, I felt like giving up on the task from time to time. I simply wanted to go to bed, and considered skipping the Scouts’ event the next day, sleeping late and getting a good rest.  

Then I happened upon a small notebook, practically all filled, except for an empty last page.  Not knowing what to do, I wrote I SHALL NOT BE LATE!, and for emphasis, I drank a large glass of water. I then tore out the page and placed it on the table.  As if by magic, my headache vanished, and the ideas started coming!  I completed the program in less than a half hour and went to bed.  By the next morning I might have forgotten about the episode, except that I realized that the person to whom I assigned the first event was also prone to be late.

Our family prepared together and arrived at the Scout event on time.  On the way to the new Scout home, I pondered how to motivate other families who have difficulty arriving on time.  I am aware that Saturday is half of the weekend.  Yet, people have to get out of bed early for the sake of scouting.  I know that children need their rest; without adequate rest they become irritable.  Also, Saturday traffic is usually bad and there are other interfering factors.  Yet I was secretly hoping that no one would be late…

On that day, everyone was present at muster! This was practically unheard of!  I was happy to no end. Even the usually late family, who had responsibility for the first event, was present. They had made it on time in spite of all the difficulties.  I inspected the troop, and joy filled me.

Between the scouting event and Hungarian School there is a short pause, during which I collect scouting materials, eat my sandwich, and prepare for the Hungarian lesson.  That is what I accomplished that day.  I removed equipment from my case, including the little notebook from which I removed the last page the night before. Opening it, I discovered I had left the first page blank, which was not a big deal, but it irritated me that I had left the page clean.  Then, spontaneously, using my calligraphy skills I wrote on it “Thank you for your promptness – with scouting brotherhood love, Uncle Csaba”. I found the open backpack of the scout I was worried about, and at an opportune moment, inserted the little paper.

I never learned what happened with the little paper.  Nor do I know whether anyone read it.  But I know that the scout was never late again!

The twin brother of the above paper, “I SHALL NOT BE LATE!” on it, was lying on my desk but I paid no attention to it then or for a long time thereafter.  Picking it up today, it reminded me that our lives are full of joy.

Life is joyful when we conquer ourselves, even with a small victory.   We feel joyful when we understand others without being condescending.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All on behalf of myself and the #45 Fekete István Scout Troop!

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