Build Bridges - Not Fences
Once upon a time two neighbors who lived on adjoining farms had an argument with one another. It was the first serious fight in years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a problem.
Their long friendship fell apart. It began with a small difference f 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 days 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 and 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 a fence – – 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 and I’ll do a job that pleases you.”
The neighbor had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that 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 there at all.
The carpenter had built a bridge — 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 was coming 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 stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking 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 on,” the carpenter said. “But, I have many more bridges to build.”
*Adapted from anonymous story