Build Bridges, Not Walls
I cannot be the only person who has heard this phrase over and over in the past few months. Like an echo reverberating off the walls of the treacherous chasm that is our indifference. As cliche and annoying as those four words have become, there is so much truth to them. However, I do not think that this phrase fully captures the importance of religious and racial tolerance in today’s society.
In the picture above is the Mackinaw Bridge. I love the Mackinaw area; I love the Upper Peninsula of Michigan even more. However, to get from Mackinaw City to the Upper Peninsula you have to cross a bridge spanning five miles. The first time I crossed the Mackinaw Bridge I was terrified. It felt like the slightest breeze would knock the car over the edge and into the perilous depths below. Over the years every time I would cross the bridge I would feel more and more at ease. Having faith that I would make it to the other side because I knew I had done it before is what calmed my quivering nerves.
Recently I went to the U.P. with a friend of mine who had never gone that far into Michigan before. When he saw the fast approaching bridge looming before us he froze. While I marveled at the beauty of the bridge that I had seen many times before I heard him whimper, “we aren’t going over that, are we?” After some coaxing he mustered up the courage to suck it up and brave the massive bridge.
After this event had transpired, a question occurred to me.
Do people ever decided NOT to cross the Mackinaw Bridge because they are afraid of it? Does their fear cause them to miss the beauty that is on the other side of the bridge?
Although many people are brave enough to cross a bridge, could you imagine if more people were too afraid to cross the gap? What would be the point of building bridges if no one were to use them? I see a lot of people that, without questioning it, put on their hardhats and slip on their harnesses and go out into the world to build relational bridges. However, I see even more people who would rather steer clear of those bridges for the fear that something may happen while crossing the bridge. There are even people that go as far as to set up blockades so that no one can cross.
To often I think we are too focused on what can knock us off the bridge, and we do not pay attention to what we will discover on the other side. Much like my experience with the Mackinaw Bridge, I believe those who are scared of crossing the gap will find it easier once they have made the effort to do so once before. Moreover, once you have crossed that bridge, you might just find that you are excited to do it again.
We will always need people who are willing to build bridges. Those who want to bridge religious and racial groups are invaluable to society. However, I encourage more people to gear up to cross those bridges that are already built.
Don’t allow the fear of what could go wrong distract you from the beauty you will find when you reach the other side. As a Christian I have found something new in my faith from learning about Islam and Buddhism. Studying these two religions has taught me more about how I can be a better Christian. God has given us the gift of culture and diversity, and if you are willing to take the time and effort to cross over into their world, you might find out something new about yourself. All you have to do is have a little faith.