The Boy Scouts of America and the Tyranny of Choice

I walk to the store near my house several times a week; it’s a way to get both me and the baby out of the house, and I’m becoming convinced that my sedentary husband and I have somehow spawned an outdoors-man.  Better to roll with it than fight it, I think.

Over the last few visits, there have been boy scouts standing next to the door.  Once it was a kid just standing near the garbage can so I didn’t think much of it, but twice now I’ve walked through the automatic doors and passed a family camped out on lawn chairs, often eating lunch, with one of the children in full BSA regalia.  Once, it seemed like the mother murmured to the boy to ask me a question but I zipped on through (my own boy gets a bit vocal when I’m too slow) and nothing ever came of it.

Each time I saw these kids there  I held my breath a bit.  I am a natural introvert and don’t love being hit up for money, but beyond that I’m not sure how to react.  Even with the Boy Scouts of America potentially poised to admit gay members, I’m hesitant to support them financially.  Part of me feels like it’s too little, too late, and that the measure doesn’t go far enough since it still excludes gay scout leaders from the organization.    The other part of me, though, struggles with the micro:  these are local kids, and our local faith has said that they would support gay members if that is what the Boy Scouts of America chooses.

I feel like I butt up against this a lot.  “Liberal guilt”, man.  It’s a real thing.  Do I boycott Chik-Fil-A because of the actions of its ownership or do I support the local franchiser who comes out and says that they have always been inclusive with their hiring practices?   How much worse is Walmart than Target?  Why am I shopping at either of these places anyway when there are Mom and Pop stores?!  Meat is inhumane; grass-fed, locally raised is better.  How much of my family’s limited budget can I spend on it?  How bad is it to drive to a city 40 minutes away to get locally-sourced, humanely treated beef?  Does the animal-rights aspect outweigh the pollution aspect?  Does the fact that I bought a Prius negate some of this?  If so, how much?

Karl Marx said that “religion is the opiate of the people” and while I don’t believe that all religious folk (or all conservative folk, for that matter) are blissed-out and unthinking, I do believe there is some sort of peace in being able to look to an ideology for either guidance or outright instruction.  When you belong to a faith that considers homosexuality to be a sin, your choices are easier.  Gobble up all the fried chicken and lemonade (and delicious shakes, and waffle fries, and… I guess I’m off topic here) that you want.  A blogger I read even described her family as “Chik-Fil-A People“; a subtle hint to the weird politics and beliefs that are wrapped up in decisions like this.   As an aside:  Katie Bower, if you stumble upon this because of that link, know that I love your blog and think you are so sweet and gracious.  (Also: omg can I be bffs with you and $herdog?!)

Maybe this isn’t as much of an issue of political belief as I make it out to be and more the symptom of the tyranny of choice.  We are privileged enough to live in a world where there is no shortage of stuff, be it tangible like choices of fast food to eat or places to send our child for extra-curricular activities, or more nebulous like steady streams of information that keep us informed of every thought and action of every business owner of any product we ever wanted to consume.  I try to vote with my wallet and spend my money in places that reflect my values but in the end, I realize I can only do so much and am too tired to open the floodgates to researching every. little. thing. that my family does.  Something’s got to give.

Here’s hoping that those little boys at my neighborhood grocery store get whatever they’re after, and here’s hoping that even more little boys will have a more inclusive and welcoming environment to learn in come this summer.