The Unbuildable Bridge

Just thought of a picture, but maybe it’s really a little more than that.

A great country is divided into basically two sections, separated by a vast canyon. There are many smaller offshoots and fissures, but for the purposes of my illustration, we’re going to focus on what appears to be the two main sections.

Now, because the country is so divided, it actually ends up being much less great than it could. The differences in the two sides are many, but so are the similarities. So what eventually happens is that the people living in each divided half of the great country end up staring at each other over the vast canyon. Both sides know the country was not so divided once, but they can’t remember how to get back to that way of thinking, and living. They can’t remember how to pull the two sides back together.

Sometimes they shout epithets at each other, and always they’re thinking that each side knows a better way—the only way—to actually bring the two halves of the great country back together.

Eventually, one side or the other decides the best thing to do is build a bridge across the vast canyon. The bridge will be made of ropes, and it will be built by flinging ropes across the span, tying them off on either side, and then attaching boards for people to walk across, piece by piece. Eventually, they think, they will be able to not only meet in the middle, but also travel back in forth.

There’s a problem, though. Because the bridge is made of rope, there’s some swaying involved when you step out onto it. While it would probably be best to just step out and start building, step after step after step, it never happens.

People are afraid.

And instead of walking toward each other, building as they go, they cling to their own side of the canyon, and return to their epithet-shouting ways. They know what they need, and they even have a rudimentary idea of how to do it. So they throw their ropes, and instead of catching them on the other side and tying them off, they simply let the ropes slide through their fingers.

So the bridge remains unbuilt, and a canyon that could be crossed is instead returned to the status of obstacle. Common ground is forgotten. Similarities are not mentioned.

And compromise is not even considered…

Certainly a crudely drawn metaphor, but you get the point, don’t you?

I’m no politician, and no great thinker.

But as someone on the outside, it seems to me this partisan-ship we’re so concerned with is slowly killing the country.

There will always be struggles–that is one thing we can all be certain of. But instead of facing the struggles with a united front, we are more concerned with making people afraid and telling the country who is to blame for their fears.

And I wonder whatever happened to the principles this country was founded upon.

You can remove words from pledges, and even stop saying the pledges altogether. You can tell children and adults what they can and cannot say in schools and places of business.

But that doesn’t change the fact that there were and are certain principles the men who breathed this country into life took to heart that are no longer given so much as lip service because the “powers that be” are more concerned with offending someone than saying what needs to be said, and in many cases doing what needs to be done.

And that saddens me, because I believe this country–that powerful country I spoke about earlier–really is the greatest country on earth.

And I think that compromise, politically or otherwise, does not have to be something that’s feared.

This bridge can be built, if we are willing to do the work.