Our Troop had its annual Order of the Arrow election tonight. I wore my sash. The Arrowmen giving the Scouts their instructions on the balloting seemed to omit a crucial step, and I asked a question about it.
You see, we had four candidates, and the Scouts were told they could vote for as many as they thought worthy. I asked whether it wasn't true that they could only place a maximum of two names on their ballot, with four candidates. No, they were free to vote for zero through four. I shut up, not wishing to argue in a public proceeding, but I can't tell you how shocked I was.
I was elected to the Order as a boy in 1968. I served three years on the Lodge Executive Committee (twice as a Chapter Chief). As late as 1991, when I was the District Camping Chair in Terre Haute, I wound up supervising the election team for our District. I know
how an OA election is supposed to be run, folks.
So when I got home, I went searching on-line for standards for OA elections. And apparently, somewhere along the line, the standards have been changed. Vote for everybody you think worthy. Pardon me if I think that's just another cheesy pile of self-esteem crap.
The way things worked out for years was, you would have to be a real stinker to be turned down year after year for OA by your fellow Scouts. (Either that, or have a majorly dysfunctional troop, but that's a separate issue.) For most boys, election to the Order was almost inevitable, but not guaranteed, as long as they continued to participate.
As it is now, you still have to be a real stinker to be turned down. Only now, there's even less of a need to single you out that way. I mean, nobody has to choose between candidates any more. To NOT vote for Scout A requires one to really decide he's NOT worthy, as opposed to saying, but Scout B is so much MORE worthy. So it's easier to just vote 'em all in.
And is that a bad thing? Well, if election is basically automatic (unless you're a stinker), then what's special about it? The old system wasn't perfect, but it still felt like you were being singled out as someone extra cool. Now, it's just routine.
I dunno. Maybe it's just my sense of stability that's offended. Another timeless tradition tossed out the window.