Friday, June 6, 2014

Who is the Victim?

The following message was posted on my timeline on Facebook

Geoff - I am offended that you write that no one from the Thunderbird District has supported your efforts. Many of us have. The issue you are confusing is providing a program for the boys and an outlet for your rightful frustration and anger with the membership decision of Scouting. While many of us disagree with that decision, and we do, we fortunately or unfortunately live in a democracy where a vote was taken and some of us were in the minority. Nevertheless, we chose to stay with Scouting. You have all the right you want to disagree with that policy. In the meantime, for us, it is about the kids. And will remain that way. /Cory 
My response came over several days, and after an e-mail exchange as well. I don't have leave to publish Cory's part of the e-mail exchange, but here is how I responded (sorry for the all-caps, but FB doesn't let you bold or underline):
Hey, It's OK to be offended. What I said is there was no public support by ANY MEMBER OF COUNCIL nor ANY MEMBER OF THUNDERBIRD DISTRICT other than members of those units directly affected.. The moment that changes I am happy to change my post. Nothing prevents any of you from staying in Scouting. But what prevents ALL OF YOU from withholding your vocal and robust outrage at the actions of your district, your council and BSA national? Private chest-pounding in meetings may have happened, but I haven't seen it and NO ONE ELSE IN TOWN has seen it either. Public statements are needed, why are they withheld? What is the threshold of outrage that would enable your voice? 
You mentioned that many in Thunderbird District have supported my efforts. It would be good to list that support, so it can be accounted for. It is true that I have seen some non-support, and also some pseudo support, but it may well be there has been meaningful and helpful support that has been outside my view.  
Support that we need but haven't seen include financial reimbursement for the cost of our lost charters, and the waste of our uniforms, support for the cost of re-uniforming our kids and staff, additional help with funding our scholarships, and completing our equipment locker and gear. Helping out with our meetings, attending our rallies, insisting that internal systems in BSA become actually responsive to our needs rather than the opposite. Refusing to permit business as usual until the crisis is resolved, nominating any member of our units who can no longer be BSA members as "honored guests" to district committees. While those things haven't happened, perhaps some other things have that we can account for now.
Another opportunity for tangible support would be for units in our District to attend Pride parade, in uniform and with your unit banners. That kind of support would be most welcome, would be very visible, would be completely appropriate and would send the message to the city at large that Troop 98 and Pack 98 are not abandoned. Will you be marching? Will Troop 15 be marching? If not will you lend us your banners and we'll march in your stead. Seattle Pride Parade is the last Sunday in June, I'd be happy to add you to the parade event for full details.  
It is true there are many paths to victory on this. Advances in civil rights come through direct action and activism and exercise of power. Some people have asserted, though none have proven, that the "say only nice things approach" makes gains where a more muscular approach hasn't. I doubt there is research that supports those claims, rather that is to confuse cause and effect.  
While I appreciate your in-private and behind-close-doors approach may yield improvements--my emphasis is on "may." There is no measurable improvement for the standing of Troop 98/Pack 98 in the Chief Seattle Council despite those efforts. If you think otherwise then please show me how? Of course the unofficial offers that were extended by [redacted] and yourself were welcome for their sentiment--but they were not acceptable to the RBUMC membership, any more than they were to me or the Pastor as I suggested when we met for lunch. It may be you would benefit hearing feedback from them about the offers--how they felt about them, what their thoughts were. Such a session can be scheduled--[redacted] attended one last week.  
I have been unable to acknowledge secret offers made in private with no names attached, with conditions that the offers not be made public. I'm unclear how you think I can do that? What I have done is describe an anonymous offer on my blog--which you can read about here: I would note that offer was slightly better than the one you made. If you intend your offer to be published then I encourage you to do so, or respond back on the prior e-mail as you indicated you would. Until offers are made in a way that makes them publically discussible, I'm uncertain how you wish I would proceed in acknowledging them?  
It is correct that there is isolation occurring--very often in the face of official silence, those who remain on the inside resolve their cognitive dissonance by adopting a "blame the victim" approach. My isolation is caused by the policy, and by the public silence on the issue, by the revocation of my membership and the charters of the units. When you and others complain about my advocacy, rather than acknowledge and move to support and defend us, you are curiously putting yourself in the victim role. That kind of displacement is naturally distressing to me, and I hope you will reconsider.  
You will find that as others within Chief Seattle Council speak out in ways that Rainier Beach neighborhood and the people of the City of Seattle can see, the problems you detect in my tone and advocacy will resolve. I have suggested some concrete ways that might happen (above), have you considered them, if so can we not act in cooperation? Additionally, consider that I'd be quite willing to sit on the sidelines on this, especially if we can agree on a course of action that makes sense to us all.
Well see if the conversation can proceed further from it's obviously blocked state. I do believe that Cory and I are natural allies, and it is sad that we have yet to find a way forward that is mutually supportive. I'm sure if I were better suited to this work we could find a way through. We probably simply need to find some time to get out in the woods together. That's what Scouting is all about after all, isn't it?

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