Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Bridge

It started with bridging gaps. The gap between the world I grew up in, aka "the sixties", and the world we actually live in. The gap between my mind and the minds of others. The gap between men and women. The gap between my parents' world of Lutherans and the world of school, friends and workplace. The gap between the world of my friends and coworkers, and Islam, my religion of choice. The gap between the Islamic world, and the so-called Western world, and the Jews, from which group I had most of my closest friends.

The gap between what are generally portrayed as Muslims and Jews, atheists & Christians, Buddhists and people of other faiths, and what actually exists on the ground. The gap between old friends and new friends, between ethnic groups and the families within them. The gaps between sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, children and their parents. The gap between the Islam that lights my life, and this psychopathic thing that's tearing people apart, that's showcased to the public, that makes Muslims the public pariah of the West. The gap between suspicion and trust. The gap between democracy and totalitarianism. The gap between oppressors and the oppressed. The gap between those who believe in God in some way, and atheists. The gap between various faiths in God. The gap between rich and poor. The gap between the gluttonous and the starving. The gap between the political left and right. The gap between peace and war. The gap between hubris and self-doubt, between love and hate, between the living and the dying, between the powerful and the powerless.

And I found, at the end of this long journey, one thing in common, one bridge between all of these seemingly insurmountable chasms. Sometimes we can traverse this bridge, as in relationships between people such as husband and wife, or friends, and sometimes, such as with the gap between life and death, we cannot.

To take the first step, we must go back in time, to the place we were before we saw gaps at all, when we were children. We saw no racial, cultural, ethnic, age or even gender divides, and all people were transparent souls, and we could read their behavior like signs. To make sense of it all, we began to discern differences and categorize them. But even farther back, when we were yet unborn, when we were catapulted through eons of evolution in a mere nine months, and then thrust in an instant into an alient planet, light-years from the womb, suddenly intaking breath, then nearly shattering our ears with our own terrible cry, and we ache for the soothing heartbeat of our mother. Remember how we bridged the chasm from comforting, vegetative form to agonizing struggle, to dizzying, terrifying self-determination.

And carrying that horrible responsibility strengthens us, so we must begin the long journey of discovering chasms and building bridges, making connections. But really it is only one bridge that connects all these chasms. The same one that connected us when our umbilical cord was severed: The soul of the human heart. The light within. The part that was never cut off. The part that knows God. The part that never dies. And yet we cannot build anything, or connect, without tools - and the greatest tool is the mind. Use it - or descend ... with blinding speed ...

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