Isn't it about time to try to make a rope?

Published June 4, 2020

By Joe Mavretic

Boy Scouts learn to make a three strand rope. Scout leaders know how difficult it is to try to explain how to make a three part laid rope. If the materials and equipment aren’t in hand, just talking about the process is extraordinarily confusing. Even if all the materials and equipment are available, actually making the rope is a challenging task. The purpose of the activity isn’t just about making a bit of rope, it’s also about selecting the proper materials, using the right equipment, applying the correct technique, and paying attention to the process details. A scouting takeaway is that a common item, created and used for thousands of years around the globe, isn’t easy to replace if you don’t have it in your backpack. It occurred to me that getting our heads around the current virus epidemic is like making a three strand rope.
Seems to me that the three strands are science, religion, and commerce. Trying to decide what available materials to use for each strand is difficult. Science isn’t really sure about vaccines, testing&tracking, distances and crowds. Religion must balance earth and heaven, life and death, individual vs. the public good. Commerce isn’t positive about lock-down economic effects, debt repayments, unemployment compensation, and recession.
Politicians are the "Scouts" in this endeavor. Our elected and appointed leaders are trying to make a three strand safety line without agreement on the materials, without the necessary legislative equipment, using untested techniques on an arbitrary schedule while respecting morals and ethics.
Boy Scouts who have tried to make a rope know that the first try usually was a disaster and the second wasn’t much better. Each try was accompanied by encouragement, reflection, adjustment and another attempt. Given enough time, each scout accomplished the mission and took away a piece of rope.
There are many lessons learned while making any kind of rope but one that stands out for me is: "Scout leaders never blamed the scout for trying to do his best with what he had to work."
Isn’t it about time for all of us to try to make a virus rope before we start criticizing those who are having to do it now?