(photo credit: naturetourism.allegheny.edu)
When I was in Boy Scouts, every single summer we went on a 50-miler. Actually, we always hiked more like 55, and did so in one week. One year I was in a patrol with boys/teens, ages 11 to 16 – a diverse group of of young males at different stages of human development, as well as social “cool-ness”. One boy was young and chubby, two strikes against him, according to the older, Nor Cal surfer looking patrol leaders. On the trail, and sometimes the trail we blazed thanks to our compasses and topographical maps, it was natural for the older members to be in front and take the lead. Always leaving the slowest ones in the dust. The older teens would eventually stop, take a rest, and let the others catch up. But then quickly start up again, hardly giving the weakest any time to rest and recuperate.
Can we see this hiking “phenomenon” in other human endeavors, too? Perhaps in our churches, work places, and even in our relationships? If you’re, slow, weak, and unsure you get left in the dust. If you’re quick, strong, and sure of yourself, you get to lead.
Should we just say then, like Run DMC decades ago, “It’s like that, and that’s the way it is.”
But does it have to be? Is this really the best? Is this ultimately helpful and community-building and do we do more harm than good? If we want to live together, I believe it’s not and we do. What does it say about us if (or when) we follow the way of the so-called survival of the fittest? Do we really think this logical or natural order is best? Sure it’s gotten us this far, but do we really like where we’ve ended up? Do we truly live as Jesus lived if this is our M.O?
On that 55-miler that one summer our Scoutmaster basically forced us to put the slowest in the front. And while it was aggravating to the fittest in our patrol, together we got to the next lake, and before the sun went down. On the trail I remember looking at what turned out to be dark brown duff, green trees, and blue sky just above the barely tree-lined ridge. It was a beautiful sight. And I had time to notice and enjoy what already was, because I had to slow down a bit. I also think the slowest got a little better in shape, both mentally and emotionally, because we hiked as a whole, not as individuals.