Do the Right Thing

October 6, 2002

During the last century there lived a poor farmer in Scotland who was out working his fields when he heard a cry for help.  He went to where the plea for help coming from and found a boy caught and sinking in a bog.  He worked his way through the bog and with the aid of a staff was able to free the boy.  After doing so the farmer went back to work in his fields and didn't think anymore about it.  The next day a fine horse-drawn carriage pulled up in front of the farmers hut.  Out of it stepped a well dressed nobleman who was the father of the boy the farmer had rescued the day before.  The grateful father wanted to reward the farmer for rescuing his son but the farmer, as desperately poor as he was, would not accept money for helping someone in need.  The nobleman still wanted to reward the farmer for saving his son and was trying to think of some way to do so when the farmer's own son came to the doorway of the hut.  Seeing him the nobleman then made this proposition to the farmer; let him take the boy and he would educate him.  The farmer hesitated at first but then finally agreed.  Through the education that the farmer's son received he became a scientist.  The boy grew up to be Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.  A number of years after, the nobleman's own son was stricken with pneumonia which was a death sentence before the discovery of penicillin.  The nobleman's son that was saved that day was Sir Winston Churchill.

Each of us as we live our lives will have opportunities to help people and will have to make moral decisions like the poor Scottish farmer did.  As badly as he needed money, his personal code that he lived by would not allow him to accept money for helping someone else in need.  If he would have taken the money his son would not have received an education and the world would not have penicillin which has saved tens of millions of lives not to mention the life of Winston Churchill who led England through the darkest days of World War II against Nazi Germany.  The Scottish farmer died without ever knowing that one small moral decision he made changed the world and saved millions of lives.  As you live your life never underestimate the power of doing the right thing.

Good night, gentlemen.

Note: Some historians dispute the exact events described in the story, but whether or not the story occurred exactly as detailed here, the lesson suggested is part of the essence of Scouting.  When we help somebody else, that same person may later be the very person that helps us.