Walking with the Proverbs


When I took the 50 Mile Hike in 1961, I was still a Republican, like most of my family. Things change, however, and when I hiked 61 miles on my 61st birthday, I was also celebrating something like 40 years of leaning slightly to the left. Even so, I believe strongly in dialogue around differences, so I’ve been getting some pretty good business training from a group that leans strongly Republican — actually “take no prisoners” Republican.

Sometimes I listen to training CDs while I walk, and one that this group gave me suggested, “Read a chapter of the Old Testament Proverbs every day, and you’ll learn everything you need about building a good business and great life”. That sounded like a good idea. My dad loved the Proverbs, and I used to read them a lot. Besides, they’re both Jewish and Christian, so 22 days later in Proverbs 22:16 I found, “He who oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth or to give to the rich, will only come to want”.

Now usually it seems the people affiliated with the current administration are busy hammering the Bible at people I hang with. I sort of don’t like doing this, but I’m going to hammer back. I know the usual argument is that no-bid contracts and big tax cuts for your wealthy friends will trickle down to help the poor. Unfortunately, what I’m hearing from more and more people is it’s helping them become poorer. The most telling reality for me was a minister friend who runs a really good crisis help program. I give to his program occasionally because they do good work well. I didn’t know his political affiliation, so in the last election I walked in and asked for his vote. “Well, I’ve liked Bush,” he said, “because of the way he talks about the Bible and faith, but I have to say this. In all the years we’ve been doing this work, we’ve never had such a horrendous time getting the resources we need to help people who are hurting”.

In a Bible-thumping sort of way, I’m actually afraid the people in charge of the country have been oppressing the poor to increase their own wealth and give to the rich. If they’re right that the Bible is literally true, I think we can sit back and watch them come to want. I’ll be ready to help them beat their gas-guzzlers into bicycles (I seem to have paraphrased Isaiah 2:4 where swords are beat into plowshares), as well as teach them to walk so their inordinate fuel budgets can trickle down for good walking shoes and bus passes for the poor they’ve oppressed.

Larry Johnson and Elaine Wynne, KEY OF SEE STORYTELLERS, have practiced and taught this skill
throughout the U.S. and around the world since the 1960s.