COMMENTARY: I Just Have to Outrun You

During a camping trip, Sam and Tom saw a bear coming their way. Sam started to take off his backpack and told Tom he was going to run for it. When his surprised friend said, “You can’t outrun a bear,” Sam replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Sadly, this look-out-for-number-one mentality is common in business, politics, and sports. Everywhere, basically good people engage in — and justify — selfish, short-sighted conduct that treats coworkers, colleagues, and teammates as competitors rather than comrades.

Steven Carr Reuben, author of Children of Character, speaks about a very different social vision in which people find greater meaning and satisfaction in their lives by creating caring communities. To make his point, he tells of nine youngsters in the Special Olympics who were about to run the 100-yard dash.

Right after the start of the race, a young boy stumbled badly and began crying. The other eight heard him and looked back. First one, then another, then all of them stopped and went back to help their fallen comrade. A girl with Down syndrome bent down, kissed the boy, and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and triumphantly walked together to the finish line.

“That’s what being part of a community is about,” Reuben writes. It’s a lot better way to live than trying to outrun each other.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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