You know, like not invited to a birthday party? Or the mean kids at school made a “No (Your Name) Club.”
That’s what I thought. At one time or another, we’ve all felt left out.
This week, it’s being reported that an announcement may be imminent: that the Boy Scouts will begin to allow gay scouts and leaders (at the discretion of the individual troops, it appears.)
Of course, opinions fall all over the spectrum. Who should be “in” and who should be “out.” Ahem…
Plenty of people have been simultaneously praising and insulting the Scouts for a great first step away from “bigotry.” And there are others who think it will ruin the spirit of Scouting. For some unfathomable reason, USA Today asked SBC President Albert Mohler what he thinks of the pending announcement, as if his opinion has any bearing whatsoever and is not already thoroughly predictable.
You know what I think?
I think exclusivity – leaving some people out - is not always such a bad thing…
…but probably not in the way you’re thinking.
Don’t Be a Tourist
You remember the movie Fight Club?
Our protagonist, Jack, meets Marla at a support group…a support group for men…with testicular cancer. Of course, it’s obvious what is wrong with this picture. A woman (and a healthy man) have no place in that group. The group is supposed to be exclusive. Healthy men (and all women) are supposed to be left out.
We just need to admit this: by definition, every group is exclusive. They leave some people out, sometimes for reasons that seem very arbitrary to people who aren’t in the group. Every church, for example, has a statement of faith. You are welcome to show up if you are an atheist, but to be a full fledged member, you have to believe what the church does.
Many clubs, such as a support group or a men’s or women’s club discriminate on things that people can’t even help. When we single out the Boy Scouts and pretend they are the only ones who discriminate, they look pretty bad. When we acknowledge that we all do it, how does that change the discussion?
Let Me In Your Crappy Club, Or Else
Why do we try to bust down the doors on clubs that don’t want them?
Maybe you agree that the Boy Scouts should be wide open to gays (and atheists.) Maybe you don’t. But there seems to be a general attitude in our culture that every group should be open to everyone. Maybe that would make the world better, but before you go trying to forcibly open up someone else’s secret club to everyone, think about the little groups you belong to. Are you telling me that you’d let anyone crash your party?
My wife had a ladies’ prayer group for years. I was not welcome, because I am a man. I don’t consider that sexist at all. It’s their group.
I doubt I’d ever be able to join Mensa, because I wouldn’t pass their test. Isn’t that prejudiced against stupid people like me?
I have never tried to join the Black Panthers, and I don’t know if they’d let me in or not. If they didn’t, that would be their business, even if it would be just because I’m white and not black. Is that racist?
Like it or not, people enjoy gathering with people who are like them. What happens when a group, either willingly or by coercion, loses its sense of exclusivity?
Why You Should Be Exclusive
Whether you think the Scouts are right or wrong (as that’s not really the topic), here’s some practical advice:
You don’t need to be in every group or belong to every club.
If a club is excluding you, you might not want to be there in the first place. Those people just might not be the type of people you should spend time with.
In fact, as a rule, you should be rather exclusive with what groups you participate with. Your own life is the most exclusive club you have, and you shouldn’t let just anyone in your club. The more you spread yourself out, the less exclusively and indiscriminately you let people access you, the less valuable you are. It’s simple economics, or the reason a girl plays hard to get. If there is a sense that you are somewhat unavailable, it makes you all the more valuable.
See? Exclusivity isn’t such a bad thing, is it?
What do you think? Should every club be open to anyone? Or does that somehow destroy what made the club to begin with? You can even comment on the Scouts, and what you think of their choices.