i recently watched “running the sahara,” which is a documentary about three ultramarathonners running across the sahara desert. it really is an impressive accomplishment and a pretty cool documentary but that is not what i want to talk about. instead i want to talked a quote from the movie.
toward the end of the documentary one of the runners says that they wanted to run the sahara because they “love the desert and the love the people.” this was a pretty ironic statement because it came right after he tore into his two remaining support team members. the group had started out as six and slowly the team began to disintegrate because of one of the runners who continually chewed out anyone he thought had not met his unstated expectations. the irony was that this came from the same runner who said he was running the sahara because he loved the desert and the people. of course, i don’t know the whole story but from what i saw in the documentary it appears that he loves all the people he doesn’t know and not the people who were actually helping him run across the desert. i haven’t run an ultramarathon yet (hopefully i will in spring) let alone across a desert but i do know from my marathon experiences that you don’t make it that far on your own. it’s a team effort. you may be running but other people are providing for your needs.
it is far to easy to love “people” in the generic sense rather than actually loving specific individuals. when we love specific individuals it must be accomplished in actions. when we love in the generic sense it can be reduce to nice words and platitudes.
this reminds me of two quotes.
- the first is from men at work’s song “dr. heckyll and mr. jive” it says “he loved the world, except for all the people.”
- the second is from deitrich bonhoeffer’s book “life together” page 27 – “he who loves his dream of a community more than the CHRISTian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions my be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”