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Dr. J. on Running

On Charity

Running Rewards The Soul

Published August 2, 1999 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Then Myrnie asked, "speak to us of charity, O Master." He said:

"Charity is to give up that you want, to those who need. She assumes a higher level of being, one that sees the difference between material wants and spiritual needs, and divorces the one from the other."

"Charity places you in front of the mirror of your soul, so you can see your true inner needs, and go beyond your selfish outer wants. She seeks to give you the internal power that helps you transcend external worldly pressures."

"Through running, you do onto yourself the charity that is due to you. For by giving up the laziness that your body wants, you reward your soul with the fulfillment that it needs. Yet the rewards of running exceed the joy that you radiate to the world around you, and reaches deep into the cells of your body."

"As you practice the charity of running through the cold nights of winter and the hot days of summer, your actions inspire the citizens around you into running out of the darkness of their wants into the light of their true needs."

"The seemingly selfish pursuit of running, and the loneliness of the virgin snow and the path least traveled, are indeed your way to care for the gift of healthy creation and to commune with the spirit within you. For there is no prayer that pleases like a prayer of thanksgiving, and do we not give thanks and praise every time we run?"

"And when you race, the symphony of footsteps and the chorus of breathing rise in joyful song to the glory of creation. Just as running is a rebirth of hope and a promise of tomorrow, so is racing a death of needless wants and a reward for faithful training."

Then Myrnie asked, "what about charity races, Master?" He replied:

"The joy of running and the pursuit of health have led many into exploiting the few in the name of righting the wrongs of many. The self-anointed righteous of fundraising for a thousand causes care little about runners and the beauty of racing."

"Every weekend across our land I see the gathered masses, herded for worthy causes. Yet those who stage these spectacles know little about running and care less about racing. The greed of their convictions endangers your well-being and brings shame to their causes."

"For worthy as their causes may be, they are no worthier than the purity of labor through sweat and the self-denial through pain. Conducting races in the name of fund-raising serves no purpose other than to cheapen the higher virtue of denying our wants to foster our needs."

"In their ignorance and self-righteousness, promoters of charity races endanger the well-being of runners. Is it not in charity races that your basic need for water is often neglected, and your safety from speeding wheels is compromised?"

"Indeed I tell you, those charity races may be large on numbers and rich on funding, yet in reality they are the dark side of running and the mockery of racing. Just as their courses are short and their times are fast, so are their awards meaningless and their rewards mortal."

"Under the guise of charity, they coach people on losing guilt and gaining self-praise. In increasing numbers, once-a-year joggers fall victim to the trap of instant fulfillment and miss out on the lifelong gifts of running. By feeding their wants and starving their needs, they abuse running as a convenience."

Then he took leave of his people, for even the Master fulfills his needs by denying his wants, and seeks a higher state of being through the pleasure of running.

Kamal Jabbour borrowed the writing style in Gibran's Prophet in celebration of their common heritage. Jabbour's RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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