We have all come to be bridge builders. We may not all build bridges physically, but empathically, psychologically and spiritually we are all certainly called to learn to build the most impressive bridges. This morning I was watching a program about why this tiny island led the world in the Industrial Revolution. While it was true that there were certain geological and geographical conditions, the core reason was a few decades of enlightenment when the world was seen in terms of endless possibilities, like seeing an infinite number of cakes, which seemed to result in massive levels of success and happiness. In contrast, much of the rest of Europe still saw the world as a single cake divided up so if you wanted more you had to take it from others as there was only a finite amount.
I am the first to admit that this moment of enlightenment did not last long and the Brits were soon out there fighting for every scrap; but it was a brief moment when we had no enemies, no opponents and now we have made up for that by having many. Recent commentators have pointed out that we have entered a 40-year war with the Muslim world that will be acted out in North Africa and also in our cities. Sometimes it is true to confront another’s behaviour but the desire to defeat an enemy often far exceeds the much more important task of building bridges. We had a very thin disguise of why we had to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and that was the first step down a very long slide.
Recently the President of Guatemala has begged the USA to end its War on Drugs as the human cost in South America of this endless conflict is becoming increasingly unacceptable and all in the name of trying to stop a few people from getting high. The price of having enemies is endless conflict and the escalating human cost that comes with that.
With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see the mistakes of politicians and leaders, but it is a simple eye opener to look closer to home. Many of us are equally guilty of creating enemies in our world and once we start down this road it is only a matter of time before we paint that on the ones that are closest to us, and the more enemies we seem to posses the quicker this process seems to happen. Naturally we feel justified in our initial attacks but in truth they are another very thin disguise and the war will extend over our horizons.
Bridge building is a skill that can be learned and taught. Everyone knows that conflict ends when both sides communicate honestly and are willing to bridge with each other. Mistakes will be made and tough challenges faced but it is what we came for, starting in our families, then in our relationships. Once we become skilled at building bridges, it will be the stepping-stone to our happiness and success in all areas of our lives. It is no longer enough to end a conflict, because with our patterns we will just go around the corner and start a new one, totally justifiably of course. We are now being called to go further; to bond and make friends with our enemies by learning the sacred art of bridge building and it is sacred because it ends wars and is shared and passed on to others.
Jeff and Sue