The rhetoric of the current presidential election ongoing in the United States of America has traveled far and wide around the world. It presents a picture of humanity as bleak as any insult uttered by those who claim to be enemies of progress, education, and freedom. In summary, this rhetoric advertises just how ridiculous some people can present themselves to be.
The image we project is often a mask. We tend to fear letting others too close to who we really are and thus, by hiding, push people away instead of creating community. One of the newest Chief Justices of the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke of the need to create community and how one can do that. “As you discover what strength you can draw from your community in this world from which it stands apart, look outward as well as inward. Build bridges instead of walls.”
History has no record of who built the first bridge. Most likely it was a natural phenomenon such as a tee falling across a stream. The first suspension bridge built in the United States was built at Niagara Falls over one hundred and fifty years ago. However, in 1859 the first iron bridge was built. It was constructed over Dunlap’s Creek in Brownville, Pennsylvania. Certainly other bridges had been built. Connecticut boasts the first covered bridges but even before those, wooden pathways across streams were prevalent.
The purpose for these bridges was simple. In order for life to advance, mankind needed bridges to take one across the hurdles encountered. As we live our lives, as we exist in this the twenty-first century, we seem to have forgotten that we still need those bridges. This time, though, we need bridges to cross cultural divides, to bring together the communities of the world, to celebrate our diversity.
Tom Peters explains: “Community organizing is all about building grassroots support. It’s about identifying the people around you with whom you can create a common passionate cause and it’s about ignoring the conventional wisdom of company politics and instead playing the game by very different rules.” In other words, we need to cross those socioeconomic divides and join others who believe as we do. Then we need to move forward in a positive motion instead of trying to knock down the other side.
Instead of throwing stones at each other, we need to use those stones to build bridges. Then we can walk across those very bridges towards a better tomorrow, a brighter and more productive future.
Only the cowardly among us will resort to hurtful rhetoric and employ the tactics of bullies to present their case. Isaac Newton once remarked that “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” IF we are to be, we must build bridges and connect ourselves to the rest of the world. It is only by joining together that we will honor the past and bridge the present to the future.