The Scouting and Guiding Movements are two of the largest peace organisations in the world. They have brought millions of children together in brother and sisterhood regardless of ethnicity, class, language, or religion. Scouts and Guides all over the world are involved in the alleviation of poverty and other causes of strife and violence.
While a soldier for most of his career, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting and Guiding underwent an epiphany as a result of the carnage he saw during World War One. He realized that Scouting and Guiding could be a powerful force for peace in the world and he wrote again and again on the importance of building peace in the post-war period.
The war [World War I] and its upset of old ideas has given the opportunity for implanting entirely new ones. Buddha has said: ‘There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in Love.’ The opportunity lies before us where in place of selfishness and hostility we can enthuse good will and peace as the spirit in the coming generation…We in the [Scouting] Movement can prove by example that such a step is possible…
If it be your will, let us go forth from here fully determined that we will develop, among ourselves and our boys, a comradeship through the worldwide spirit of the Scout brotherhood, so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among men.
Closing speech at the First World Scout Jamboree,
Peace cannot be secured entirely by commercial interests, military alliances, general disarmament or mutual treaties, unless the spirit for peace is there in the minds and will of the peoples. This is a matter of education.
Opening Speech at International Scout Conference,
Kandersteg (Switzerland) 1926
In Baden-Powell’s last message to Scouters and Guiders, released after his death in 1941, he wrote:
[Scouting’s] aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self-interest; personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self- sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity; and thus to develop mutual goodwill and cooperation not only within our own country but abroad, between all countries. Experience shows that this consummation is no idle or fantastic dream, but is a practicable possibility – if we work for it; and it means, when attained, peace, prosperity and happiness for all. The “encouraging promise” lies in the fact that the hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are learning our ideals today will be the fathers and mothers of millions in the near future, in whom they will in turn inculcate the same ideals – provided that these are really and unmistakably impressed upon them by the leaders of today.