World Scout Committee Comité Mondial du Scoutisme P.O.

Box 241 CH-1211 Geneva 4 Switzerland Tel: (+41 22) 705 10 10 Fax: (+41 22) 705 10 20 worldbureau@world.scout.org 15 March 2002

Baden-Powell on War and Peace … a message which is still valid today
Dear Scout Brothers and Sisters, These are days of great international tension and the Steering Committee of the World Scout Committee, meeting in Geneva, today has asked itself what is Scouting's role in the present situation. At this stage, we feel that the best thing for Scouts of the world is to bear in mind what Robert Baden-Powell, our Founder, and still the Chief Scout of the World, had to say about Scouting and Peace. Think about these words, and share them with others. The contribution of Scouting to a more peaceful world is described in detail in our publication Scouting and Peace (edition 2002). Scouts and leaders will find many answers to their questions in this publication. It can be downloaded from our WOSM website: www.scout.org/wsrc/ll/docs/scoutspeace_e.pdf National Scout Oganizations also have received the companion publication: Building Peace Together: 12 workshops. (This is not yet available on the internet)

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The following are extracts from Scouting and Peace: Baden-Powell wrote in the Headquarters’ Gazette, first in June 1912, and again in April 1914, just before the first World War that:
“The first step of all (towards international peace) is to train the rising generations – in every nation – to be guided in all things by an absolute sense of justice. When men have it as an instinct in their conduct of all affairs in life to look at the question impartially from both sides before becoming partisans of one, then, if a crisis arises between two nations, they will naturally be more ready to recognise the justice of the case and to adopt a peaceful solution, which is impossible so long as their minds are accustomed to run to war as the only resource.”

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The war continued until the autumn of 1918. To demonstrate that Scouting could bring young people together to live harmoniously, he organised the first World Scout Jamboree which was held in England in 1920 with 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries. The highlight of the celebration was the closing ceremony, where B-P launched a challenge on the subject of peace and tolerance:
“Brother Scouts, I ask you to make a solemn choice... Differences exist between the people of the world in thought and sentiment, just as they do in language and physique. The war has taught us that if one nation tries to impose its particular will upon others, cruel reaction is bound to follow. The Jamboree has taught us that if we exercise mutual forbearance and give-andtake, then there is sympathy and harmony. If it be your will, let us go forth from here fully determined that we will develop among ourselves and our boys that comradeship, through the world-wide spirit of the Scout Brotherhood so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and good will among men. Brother Scouts, answer me. Will you join in this endeavour?”

The answer was described by historian Tim Jeal, author of Baden-Powell: “The ringing cry of “Yes”, which he received on that summer afternoon would be the first of many, after the promotion of international peace became his first priority.” In other messages B-P openly criticised the way in which the “civilised peoples” had failed to draw lessons from the 1914-18 war:
“The present unsatisfactory conditions in the world are the after-effects of war – that war was to have ended wars... But we have more nations in rivalry with one another than there were before, and more armed men in the world ready for war than ever existed in history. We civilised peoples, with our education and our churches, have little to be proud of in having committed this reversion to primitive methods of savagery for settling our disputes...”

In several publications he wrote of patriotism:
“We should take care, in inculcating patriotism into our boys and girls, that it is a patriotism above the narrow sentiment which usually stops at one’s own country, and thus inspires jealousy and enmity in dealing with others. Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind which recognises justice and reasonableness in the claims of others and which leads our country into comradeship with, and recognition of, the other nations of the world.”

In Aids to Scoutmastership, emphasising the subject of brotherhood, he wrote:
“Scouting is a brotherhood – a scheme which in practice, disregards differences of class, creed, country and colour, through the indefinable spirit that pervades it – the spirit of God’s gentleman.”

He saw the Promise and Law as a way to prevent wars and conflicts:
“It is the spirit that matters. Our Scout Law and Promise, when we really put them into practice take away all occasion for wars and strife between nations.”

His opening speech at the International Scout Conference in Kandersteg (Switzerland) in 1926, is often quoted:
“Peace cannot be secured entirely by commercial interests, military alliances, general disarmament or mutual treaties, unless the spirit for peace is there in the minds and will of the peoples. This is a matter of education.”

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He clearly saw a link between the development of peace in the world and Scouting’s aim. In the October 1932 issue of “Jamboree”, he wrote:
“Our aim is to bring up the next generation as useful citizens with a wider outlook than before and thereby to develop goodwill and peace in the world through comradeship and co-operation, in place of the prevailing rivalry between classes, creeds and countries which have done so much in the past to produce wars and unrest. We regard all men as brothers, sons of the one Father, among whom happiness can be brought only through the development of mutual tolerance and goodwill – that is through love.”

Baden-Powell died in 1941, deeply disappointed that the Second World War had begun. One of his last writings was:
“One thing is essential to general and permanent peace, and that is a total and general change of spirit among the peoples, the change to closer mutual understanding, to subjugation of national prejudices, and the ability to see with the other fellow’s eye in friendly sympathy.”

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As we can see from these declarations, the contribution of Scouting, - as an educational Movement - to a more peaceful world is essentially an indirect, long-term one. Our role is to endeavour to build peace in the hearts of all Scouts, as citizens of the world, and, through them, of mankind. There is no better way to attain this goal than to reach for our common roots: the wisdom of our Founder, and sharing it with others. In the name of the Steering Committee of the World Scout Committee

Marie-Louise Correa Chairman World Scout Committee

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