Although somewhat familiar to us, scouting is not a word we frequently hear outside of military circles. The term, however, is not of military origin. Scouting is simply the activity of studying a landscape.
In the not too distant past, young Americans scouted quite often. Urban exploring was something everyone did. This benefited cities for it allowed individuals to form connections and fertilize new territories.
Scouting began to decline as culture began to shift. Helicopter parents gave a tough blow to this practice by shielding children and discouraging autonomous exploration. Children became more or less incarcerated either at home or in schools. The real scout killer however was television. It took people away from the streets and kept them inside homes.
Once the tube was born, a whole array of similar gadgets followed. TV was followed by video game and cell phones. Many people boldly claim that they do not watch TV, yet, they are glued to their cell phone. They don’t realize that they are still just starring at a tube.
All this screen staring turned our men and women into a passive collective. The youth fell sedentary and voyeurism became a norm. Hypnotized by a cell phone, urban exploring was abandoned.
Today, lack of urban exploration has created a hyper-isolated society. Each person lives in a tiny pseudo-world which mainly consists of home, work, and friends. The daily walking pattern of the person is unvaried, almost as if they are stuck in a loop. This daily routine appears harmless on the surface, but it is actually quite dangerous.
So why are routines dangerous? First, routine atrophies the brain because it prevents the novelty required to exercise new neurons. Second, they cause the brain to reinforce a very narrow network, rendering the person into a flat 2-dimensional being.
There is, however, a more sinister side to all this. A lack of urban exploring renders a city commercially weak and physically vulnerable. Since people are not varying their walking patterns, wealth is not evenly circulated. Only businesses in prime streets remain stimulated while dead zones continue to form.
Weakness in housing also occurs because adventurers are not encouraged to build new communities on unexplored territories. Everyone remains crowded in already known locations and fiercely competes for lodging there. This creates housing price explosions such as what we see in San Francisco or New York
A lack of scouts eventually drags a country into fragility. That is because its inhabitants do not know the terrains. In case of war or natural disasters, such ignorance will spell chaos. Therefore, it is important for the local population to know the nooks and crannies that are suitable refuge. This can only be done by scouting.
An example of such a mistake is France in 1940. During WWII, Germany invaded France in order to strategically place its army against England. The rapid failure of France’s defense was greatly due to its lack of scouts. The French lacked contextual knowledge of their terrains and landscape advantages. They did not know where to best place their men for an effective offensive, nor were they aware of natural pockets they could have used to conceal their combatants. They were ignorant of their own land! It only took 6 weeks for France to be defeated.
I doubt war will take place in the U.S. We are moving past the era of "Total War". Despite this fact, let’s not commit the mistake of neglecting to scout our land. We have much social and commercial benefits to gain from doing so. If you would like to learn more about CityXcape’s mission and enlist as a scout, click here.