The Scout Programs of Adventure Scouts USA have a Scout Code that our Scouts live by and use as a guidepost in their life. But our Scouts are not the first to have a code! Codes are guidelines of conduct people choose to live their life by. Many of the codes we have today are guidelines of conduct people choose to abide by. In the past, some codes were law.
In the modern world, living by a code has become less and less common. It may seem old-fashioned and quaint to live by a code of conduct, but upon closer examination, many codes, including those of the distant past, represent positive ethical standards we can live by today.
Below are some of the most famous codes people have chosen to live their lives by:
The Knight’s Code
· Always have your armor on, except when you are sleeping.
· Defend the poor and help those who cannot defend themselves.
· Do nothing to hurt or offend anyone.
· Be prepared to fight in the defense of your country.
· At whatever you are working, be honest and develop a name for yourself for hard work and fair dealing.
· Never break your promise.
· Maintain the honor of your country.
· Chivalry requireth that youth should be trained to perform the most laborious and humble offices with cheerfulness and grace; and do good unto others.
The Cowboy Code
- The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take unfair advantage.
- He must never go back on his word or a trust confided in him.
- He must always tell the truth.
- He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.
- He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
- He must help people in distress.
- He must be a good worker.
- He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
- He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
- The cowboy is a patriot.
The Ten Commandments
- You shall have no other gods beside Me.
- You shall not make a graven image.
- You shall not take the name of God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness.
- You shall not covet.
Below is a Code that was actually became law. The Code of Hammurabi is considered one of the oldest codes in existence.
The Code of Hammurabi
Hammurabi was a great king of Mesopotamia. We crafted a set of 282 laws for his people to live by. Amazingly some of those laws seem up-to-date, such as detailed instruction on what should be paid for certain service and goods, and laws of marriage, such as that a woman who was being treated unfairly could legally leave.
The Code of Ur-Nammu
The code of Ur-Nammu may actually have been written by his son Shulgi, a Sumerian, who ruled from 2094-2047 BC. Two stone tablets containing part of the Code remain and are kept in a museum in Istanbul. The Code of Ur-Nammu was also surprisingly modern with detailed instructions about how to do business, how people were compensated, how to deal with theft, fire and more.
Some of these laws are also amazingly modern, including laws that men and woman were to be treated equally.
Codes provide us a glimpse of how people used to do things and what values they had. Some of those codes are surprisingly valuable to us in the modern age, and offer a perspective to our Scouts that there are others who came before them who also chose to live by their own guidelines.