Precious but obsolete?

Posted on November 23, 2022
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy, Memories, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

100 years ago, young men did not usually rise to positions of power and authority until what are now considered retirement ages for many. Women didn’t get there at any age.
Young men started a Junior Chamber of Commerce to help young men between 18 and 40 develop leadership skills. The organization eventually grew into Jaycees International. It developed wonderful programs like Effective Speaking, Parliamentary Procedure, Committee Organization and Management. Members were to learn the programs and use them in projects to benefit their communities. In its prime, the Calgary Jaycees had an administrative role in the Stampede.
One of the programs it developed was Leadership in Action, A programme of personal growth. It aimed to guide participants to balance the important elements of their personal lives.
The elements were social, financial, mental, physical, family and spiritual. It included plans and tools to set and achieve goals.
As I purge my files and memorabilia, I’m looking at my copy and suffering nostalgia. That’s a word from the Greek for the pain of going back.
I’m enthusiastically grateful for all I learned in Jaycees. I was lucky to land in one of the units which took the education element seriously and had an excellent volunteer course leader and teacher, Jim Mitchell, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
Oddly, one big reason for the dramatic decline to almost extinction in Jaycees, was its decision to include women in the membership. That had an unforeseen, unintended consequence it did not have in Rotary. Jaycees tended to be young men with leadership ambitions in their companies, unions, politics, volunteer or any organizations. Women who joined mostly had similar motivations. Often the spouses of those men and women did not. Many spouses didn’t want to be Jaycees but weren’t comfortable with their spouses socializing so much with meetings, courses and projects in coed groups.
It also led to some people joining units for wrong reasons.
There were and are other reasons too, of course. Youths can be billionaires by the time they’re 30 now. Both men and women have access to influence and education from many more sources now.
Fathers tend to be more involved at home that they used to be.
In any case, Jaycees is one of the organizations that was important to me but is no longer as necessary. The regional and national newspaper associations we built when technology turned newspapers into a quantum leap more productive are also on the wane. My generation presided over the development of the current infrastructure. Now there are plenty of schools with fine instructors. Centralization has led to large media chains with their own internal training culture.
I am nostalgic but also gratified. Having been involved in the efforts to develop young men for success in modern society and the improvement in media skills, I can’t be sad they both took root, bloomed and are mutating and evolving into what society needs now.
But what do I do with my copy of the program?
I still love the Jaycee Creed with which we opened every meeting.
We Believe:
That Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life;
That the brotherhood of men transcends the sovereignty of nations;
That economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise;
That government should be of laws rather than of men;
That earth’s great treasure lies in human personality;
And that service to humanity is the best work of life.


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