On Mother’s Day, my fifteen-year-old son created a bouquet from a collection of growing things in our yard. He found some waning tulips, a few crocus, a little grass, and a perfectly symmetrical dandelion gone to seed. It was beautiful. Christy said something like, “You know, when we haven’t taught them to label something a weed…”
Of course, I’m pretty sure I HAVE taught him to label dandelions “weeds.” I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I’ve handed him a tool to go and dig their unsightliness out of our yard. And, knowing my son, there’s even the possibility of sardonic comedy in the bouquet he created: his mother is a combination of earth’s graces and its weeds. And he would be right. But my son is also visually sensitive and insightful. There is as much possibility that he saw the subtlety of rounded white contrast the seeded dandelion presented to the purple crocus and coral tulips, and so he released any preconceived notion he might have learned from me in deference to his own ideas of balance and beauty.
And so goes the younger generations of the Boy Scouts of America who overwhelmingly supported a lifting of the ban on gay youth in the organization. They do so at odds with older alum and leaders in their lives—a mark, no doubt, of the national dialogue on gay rights that is changing America’s culture to reflect inclusion and acceptance. But it is a mark, too, of age and the capacity to think beyond the prejudices we inherit. The resistance of older generations makes me wonder about that line in the sand where we choose no longer to return to that moment in time when we heard the word “weed” and question its truth; where we arrest thinking, unable to take a step outside the limits of our preconceptions. I wonder about that turning point in the accumulation of life experience that changes us from open, accepting, curious human beings who question the validity of the messages we are handed, from people who can make an about-face on any poorly conceived idea in order to embrace a future that is infinitely more interesting and more humane, into people who are paralyzed by fear.
Congratulations, young Scouts; you are wise beyond the years of your predecessors; may you always be so. And may your example have the effect of greater inclusion for gay scouting enthusiasts of all ages in the very near future.