I was never a Scout as a boy but I had a copy of the patrol Leaders handbook illustrated with line drawings of perfect campsites and campfires, of Scouts in perfectly neat uniforms lining up eagerly to listen to their patrol leader, cheering heartily, rallying around the patrol flag waving their hats. I was quickly disappointed when youthful attempts to organize our neighborhood gang didn’t resemble those idealized pictures.
The idea that the perfect is the enemy of the good, the assumption that a perfect solution exists and that any solution short of perfection is unacceptable, reduces complex situations to two black and white illusions.
It’s a very human thing to form illusions of ideal people, places and things. If you think about it we commemorate and idolize the perfect almost unconsciously, we smile into the camera when our picture is taken, the products we buy are advertised idealistically.
Experience teaches us that there’s not much pure black and white. Most of us begin with an idealized picture of we here we are headed, then that ideal meets reality and we become disillusioned. Disillusionment is actually a pretty good thing – we get rid of our illusions of the ideal and trade them for reality. Then we can begin making a difference.
Reality is so much more interesting, complex and compelling than illusion. We all want to be comfortable and recoil when we come up against the least little bit of discomfort. What I have found is that we can bear with a lot of uncertainty and discomfort to get to see what’s around the next bend. We aren’t always sure what awaits us – it may be bitter, it may be sweet, but we’ll never know unless we go. We’ll have stupendous achievements along with a the occasional dismal failure but that’s the true joy of it all!
That’s the joy I wish for you all this holiday season. Thank you for serving your Scouts; you’ve succeeded, you’ve made a difference, and there’s so much more to do!