Being a Boy Scout required some memorization. For example, I had to recite the following oath:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
I don’t think I gave a second thought to what I was saying, though now I can see I was completely unqualified to be a Scout. I did think about the Scout Law because it was difficult to keep straight.
A Boy Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.
I kept forgetting parts of that or the order of it anyway. And it seemed like an awful lot of things for a person to be. I already had to deal with the Ten Commandments. And even back then I could see I had problems in the Obedience Department, also in the Cheerful area; being Thrifty was easy since I didn’t have any money. And as for the Clean part I have always had problems in the personal hygiene area maybe because I spent the first ten years of my life without a bathroom.
Mostly though Boy Scouts was about going on camping trips three or four times a year, and having Monday night meetings in the cafeteria of the local elementary school. One year I was the boy leader of the whole damn troop. During this time I began to develop my particular leadership style. Sometimes, I would have to get the whole damn troop stand in a line. So I would be upfront and I would order them to stand in line and I would do it in such a way as to suggest: really I don’t give a good goddamn whether you stand in line or not but “they” have told me to do this and if you don’t do it I will get my ass in a sling, so please stand in line.
You give some people a little power and it goes straight to their head. They think the power is their power (even thought it has been given to them) and actually get upset if somebody doesn’t respond to “their” power. Petty bureaucrats act like that; without the power they have been given, they would be like nothing but a zero. So in my first year in college, we could only get one piece of meat, whatever it was, for dinner, and if you went back and asked for a second piece from the server ladies they would get their panties in an uproar because you were challenging their power.
Power always comes from above and if it goes to your head it infantilizes you.