When Chingachgook, Chief of the Delaware people, created a brotherhood that would memorialize the efforts of his son, Uncas, and the others that put service above themselves, he chose three words, W. W. W., to describe it. While brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service are as important today as they were to our legend’s chief, it isn’t often that we’re able to sit back and clearly think about these pillars of the Order, and what they mean in life.
Each is very different, yet interconnected at the same time. Brotherhood you feel when you’re with those important to you; cheerfulness is an attitude, a way we can look at and be a part of the world; service is something tangible, that we can do for another.
Of all these things, only one appears in the Scout Law – the one we may think least about, but is still central to our order: Cheerfulness.
Step back for a moment and think about the role cheerfulness can play in our lives. It, as one of the three tenets of our Order, does not diminish the role of the other two, but it is being addressed here because the other two are much more frequently treated in our lodge activities. Lodges organize themselves to do service to their councils, and the OA sends crews each summer to Philmont and Northern Tier to give service to our National High Adventure Bases and to national camping. There are events that stress brotherhood, like a lodge fellowship, and NOAC. But cheerfulness is an attitude that pervades all those things. Service can be done without a smile, and true brothers will stand by you no matter the mood – but these things, all things, are so much more fulfilling when you do them cheerfully.
Not only does a positive attitude lift your spirits and the task at hand, but it lifts up those around you also. Think about how many times a simple smile, a pat on the back, or a kind word has made you feel better about what you’re doing. The same can easily be done for others; it just takes the willingness to try – to go about the work of our Order and life, with the mindset that those who have the greatest power to motivate, to help others to a level they may not have imagined, do it with kind words, and genuine smiles. The amount of service possible and the strength of brotherhood are multiplied when cheerfulness is present as well.
Cheerfulness does not mean that everyone is constantly in a good mood. What it signifies is the continual commitment to life, the constant vigilance with which cheerful people face the world and problems in a way that transcends simple optimism. It is not merely an external quality; it is the deep and abiding quality of working toward the good things in life, of maintaining a positive spirit “even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities,” of not letting surmountable barriers prevent us from our fullest potential of brotherhood and service.