The Original Guide Law

>>  Sunday, April 21, 2013

I have recently done an evening with our Ranger unit about our promise and it inevitably led to discussions about the Guide Law.  I read out to them the original Guide Laws or at least the 1926 version from a picture hanging in Foxlease written by Baden-Powell:

A Guide’s honour is to be trusted
A Guide is loyal to the King and her
Guiders, and to her parents, her country and her employers or employees.
A Guide’s duty is to be useful and to help others.
A Guide is a friend to all,
and a sister to every other Guide, no matter what social
class the other belongs.
A Guide is courteous.
A Guide is a friend to animals.
A Guide obeys orders of her parents, patrol leader or
Captain, without question.
A Guide smiles and sings under all difficulties.
A Guide is thrifty.
A Guide is pure in thought, word and deed.
 "......[This law is unwritten, but it is understood]"
"A Guide is not a fool"

I'm not sure I understand the unwritten law.   There is a mention of the unwritten but understood laws in the First Edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook in 1911:
"There have always been certain written and unwritten laws regulating the conduct and directing the activities of men.  We have such unwritten laws coming down from past ages. In Japan, the Japanese have their Bushido or laws of the old Samurai warriors. During the Middle Ages, the chivalry and rules of the Knights of King Arthur, the Knights Templar and the Crusaders were in force. In aboriginal America, the Red Indians had their laws of honor: likewise the Zulus, Hindus, and the later European nations have their ancient codes. " 

I have been pondering what the unwritten law for Guides is for many years.  For sometime I wondered if it was an addition about purity but surely not something that had to be said out loud in 1926.  Or maybe it is about the common sense that we must apply in order to live successfully and in peace.  Or perhaps it is about the bond that we all share.  I think I am that Fool for not clearly understanding.

The Guide Law now is :
A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.
A Guide is helpful and uses her time and abilities wisely.
A Guide faces challenges and learns from her experience.
A Guide is a good friend and a sister to all Guides.
A Guide is polite and considerate.
A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world
around her.
The Rangers were happy with the current laws but their laughter at the original "A Guide obeys orders of her parents, patrol leader or Captain, without question." shows how much the world we live in has changed.

A change for the better I think, a Guide meeting 'without question' would be a very sad place indeed. The Rangers need to question, they need to discuss and they must have the space to speak their minds without fear of derision or chastisement.  I can't imagine the meetings would be half so much fun without it.


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