Building Bridges - Not Fences
Published February 2, 2017
Two neighbors once lived on adjoining farms. They had an argument with one another. It was the first serious fight in years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor without a problem.
Their long friendship fell apart. It began with a small difference of opinion then grew into a war of words and ended with the two no longer speaking to one another.
One morning there was a knock on one of the neighbor's door. He opened it and saw a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few day
s work” he said. “Do you would have any work I could do for you?”
“Yes,” said the man. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s where my neighbor lives. Last week there was a meadow between us. He took his bulldozer and dug a ditch between us that runs to the river. Now there is a creek between us."
"I don't want to see him or his farm any more. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me an 8- foot fence on my side of the creek.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger. I’ll do a job that pleases you.”
The neighbor helped the carpenter get the materials ready and left for the day. The carpenter worked hard all day measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset the farmer returned, and the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence!
The carpenter had built a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all. As the farmer watched, his neighbor came across with his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done. I am sorry we had words. Please forgive me. Let's be friends again.”
The two met in the middle an took each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder.
“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the farmer.
“I’d love to stay,” the carpenter said. “But, I have many more bridges to build.”
The last year has been hard. Americans have dug ditches and great divides between each other. The divisions began when many people were unhappy with Obama and refused to work with him. Tensions rose when two candidates were nominated to go head to head with each other - with neither being totally loved by all the people and both being hated by half the people. Now one of those candidates has become our President in a legal election. Instead of smooth ground between the people - ditches continue to be dug.
We look back at hundreds of years of anger and resentment in the Middle-East and wonder why THOSE people cannot get along. Now - we have become THOSE people. We are at the beginning of a long period of discontent unless both political sides TRY to get along. Can we all try to find a few common things we can agree on and build bridges - not fences?
It does not make us weak if we try to understand each other and try to come together.