John G Bell Reflective Practicum 1 Spring '04 - Hormann Weekly – Read “The Bridge Poem”
Audré Lord has said, “We are cursed to think we speak the same language.” Maya Angelou echoed the Roman playwright Terence who wrote, “I am human. Nothing human is alien to me.” Our humanity is what connects us across our inability to understand each other. Our misunderstandings are what make and define us individuals. Our shared humanity is what makes us a community. Our community is the ground from which we are individuals in relief.
If one martyrs themselves for the sake of others to the detriment of themselves, they will fail to sustain themselves and ultimately fail to help others. However, giving up on building bridges is to attempt to leave shared humanity behind.
If one celebrates themselves, they will lose awareness of the humanity of other humans, and ultimately lose their own. However, giving up difference is to attempt to leave the self behind.
Bridges are methods to cross immovable barriers, but the barriers we build between ourselves and others are constructions too. The only barriers to crossing our thresholds are our own self-created limits. Those limits are created to protect ourselves from what is outside of ourselves or our limited community, so they serve a real purpose. For every good reason we can rationalize to keep those barriers, we must stay conscious of the reasons for the barriers and be ready to question them. It is not enough to beautify the barriers or to build bridges, but rather the project is to remove the barriers when they no longer serve us. To merely build a bridge over them is to deny ourselves the chance to remove them, and change ourselves.
If we remove our own barriers, others cannot help to notice. They will see what can be done and will know the only thing that stops them is their own fear of change. Our own work will challenge others to do the same.