Use your freedom wisely

Message from Chief Scout Khonzaphi Mdaka

When SCOUTS South Africa’s late patron Nelson Mandela stood in front of Parliament in 1995 as president, he said: “The time has come to accept in our hearts and minds that with freedom comes responsibility”. Today this still rings true.

As humans, as citizens of our local communities, and as Scouting members, we need to acknowledge that being free to act, to speak, and to make choices, comes with the responsibility to make them all count for good. For every act we take – or choose not to take, every word we speak, and every decision we make there is a consequence for both ourselves, and others.

Within Scouting we choose to give a lot of freedom – and responsibility – to our young people as we have confidence that they will use it wisely and within the values embodied in our Scout Law. They have the freedom to implement the programmes, to lead their peers on hikes, and to make decisions within the Courts of Honour. But, they also have the responsibility to do so in the best interest of those they serve. This means that they need to act in a way that balances their own freedoms against enhancing the freedoms of others.

As leaders, we have the responsibility to ensure that every decision we make abides by the Safe from Harm Policy. We made the choice to serve others, and therefore our activities and our actions must also consider other youth’s freedom of choice. The way we speak, the way we act, and the way we consider other people’s feelings all attest to the type of leaders we are. Let’s make a point of using our freedom to lead for good without taking away the freedom of those we aim to serve. Invite your Group ,Crews, Patrols, Sixes or Burrows to walk with you step by step. In doing so, they can exercise their freedom and participate fully in the programme.

In Scouting being responsible is learned by doing and observing. Whilst our youth are free to decide on specific actions within the framework of our programmes, they also need to remember to be responsible for oneself and others. It is of utmost importance that our Sixers, our Patrol Leaders, our Rovers, Scouters, Regional and National leaders, always remember that when you act and exercise your right to lead, to engage, and to inspire, you do so whilst taking into account that there are young people on the other side who count on you to be responsible and attentive to their freedom and their rights. And whilst you are exploring, are playing, are cleaning up your neighbourhoods, your Meerkats, Cubs, and Scouts are watching and learning what it means to use one’s freedom to act wisely.

So today on #freedomday,  I call on you all to think about what you do with the freedom you have and how you implement your responsibility that comes with it.

Yours in Scouting,

Khonzaphi Mdaka
Chief Scout