On My Honor I Will

The inspiration for this book came from a business meeting at which an honest coworker was disparagingly referred to as “a real Boy Scout.” The implication was that anyone who valued integrity more than money was guilty of poor judgment, which set the authors to thinking about the true meaning of the phrase. Who is a Boy Scout?

One who lives by the Scout Oath: “On my honor, I will do my best: To do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law says: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

These are admirable qualities—describing someone as a Boy Scout should be a compliment, not an insult. Pennington and Bockmon are convinced that the lack of this kind of moral compass has had a negative effect on American business. As they go through the Scout Oath, clause by clause, they point out the practical effects of following these values, and describe many examples of successful businesses who have behaved ethically, not just talked about it. They hope to demonstrate that long-term success is impossible without integrity.

Using the Scout Oath as an ethics lesson is certainly a gimmick, and one not calculated to reach the unconverted or cynical. But it does deal with fundamental issues of integrity and morality, and each chapter concludes with a checklist for the reader to complete, intended to make him or her think about ethical issues in their own life. Ultimately ON MY HONOR is a motivational tract, designed to bolster the resolve of those already inclined toward ethical behavior. This it does well, with a brief, readable presentation.