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Become A Bridge Builder

"You don't build a bridge by yelling at people on the other side that they are on the wrong side of the divide. You build a bridge by taking steps to get to the other side or by providing resources that allow the other side to work towards you."

When my now grown daughters were young, we would from time to time have family meetings. At these meetings we would discuss issues relative to what was happening in their lives or our lives, the parents. One daughter, we'll just call her daughter #1, pun intended, because she will know that I'm talking about her, was often very emotional. Daughter #2, was always very logical so there was always a bridging of the perspectives that had to be accomplished by the parents presiding.

I think that is the story of America right now. There are many people responding to events on emotion while there are also many people who are trying to deal with the issues logically. Who is there to bridge the divide when these forces are found acting counter to the welfare of our society? Who stands in the middle to bridge the gap of hate and anger on one side and viable solutions that calm the anger on the other side?

The answer is "the bridge builders." With my daughters, I was constantly trying to get each to see from the other's viewpoint. Our family meetings were a formal way to do that, but this process should occur daily and continuously amongst all factions because learning to "talk," i.e. creating conversation that builds bridges, takes time and effort. I know the immediate response is going to be, "I'm tired of talking, we need action," or "talking has done nothing for us," but let me submit that I don't believe we have ever learned how to talk in this country. Talking does not simply consist of one side airing their complaints or views to others. No, talk is listening to understand why people feel the way they do and to also understand why they hold the views that they hold.

"White people" don't understand why "black" people don't like them to say, "I don't see color." "Black people" don't understand that some "white people" really don't see color and readily see you as an equal. These are divides that require a bridge builder.

This blog gives no answers other than to highlight that we do indeed need more bridge builders, people who listen to those with whom they disagree and try to understand. This is the art of talking. From there, we can begin taking steps forward because if we never learn to "talk" to each other, we will never be able to "walk" with each other.

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