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Going Far Together

By RAY WADDLE

During a recent sermon about loving God and neighbor in economic hard times, the minister quoted an African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. *

People around me gasped - an "a-ha" moment, a moment of reckoning. The proverb summed up poignantly our predicament these days.

Everybody I know feels overextended, overscheduled or overburdened with data, details, expectations, plans or bills to pay. Our lone-ranger individualism takes us to swift new daily heights of multitasking achievement -- and lonely isolation. People make money fast, and lose it fast, taking many others down with them. When the only option is to go fast and go it alone, a price is paid. Short-term profits, short-term thinking and short-term attention spans dominate. Long-term problems follow.

If you want to go far, go together. The notion is rarely spoken today. It was refreshing to hear it again. It felt like permission to believe in it once more the power of working on a pragmatic common goal, a common good, a reminder we dont have it go it alone in order to achieve something worthy.

What are worthy goals?

Going far together might refer to working on a strong marriage, or a responsible foreign policy, or a neighborhood, or a hundred other things that go neglected. Hearing that proverb that morning, I thought of biblical witnesses journeying far distances -- Abraham and Sarah, Noah and his family, Mary and Joseph, Jesus' disciples heading off two by two. In each case, they went together, and they went far.

To go far, we need more than hand-held gadgets, financial cleverness and the glamour of speed. Embedded in the proverb is an adult respect for patience, accountability, stamina and the necessity of shoring each other up when we falter.

And enjoy the view along the way. That can't be done at break-neck speed. Or in solitary confinement.

(*The Rev. Stephen Bauman of Christ Church United Methodist in New York City preaching at a May 6-7, 2010, Yale Divinity School conference on religious faith and the economy called Money and Morals After the Crash.)

--Columnist Ray Waddle, author of two books published by Upper Room Books, lives in Bethel, Conn.




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