Yesterday – August 1 – marked the fifth anniversary of the Minneapolis 35W bridge collapse which took the lives of 13 people and marred the emotional lives of many more. As a city and as a nation, we consider this a tragedy, and many wonder if it could have been avoided. Since then, stricter regulations have been put into place, and bridges around the country have been updated in order to avoid a similar outcome.
When tragedy occurs, we tend to come together. Years after tragedy, we remember, we memorialize, and we hope to avoid that same tragedy in the future.
Yesterday – August 1 – marked a day of difference and misunderstanding in our nation as it relates to the issues raised by the information about the CEO of Chick-fil-a. As a nation, we are divided, and many misunderstand the real issues surrounding the comments made by public officials in response to comments made by Dan Cathy. We are a nation who reacts without thinking when “hot topic” issues are at play.
When differences occur, we tend to become more divided. Perhaps the downfall of our Constitution is that we can all speak our minds when we should spend a bit more time listening and understanding.
When literal bridges fall down, we reach out our hands and help people to be survivors. When figurative bridges fall down, we tend to turn our backs and open our mouths.
As I watched my Facebook feed yesterday, my heart was truly broken. Well-intentioned people on both sides of the issue of same-sex marriage posted harsh comments and, at times, name-calling or doctored photos. But the heart of issue with Chick-fil-a is not their CEO’s stand on the same-sex marriage issue. Rather, the issue at hand is whether or not mayors can block a business from opening due to the beliefs of its leaders. Even the ACLU is saying that city mayors have gone too far with these statements.
When is the last time you can remember the ACLU being friendly with conservative Christians?
It might be time for everyone to cool down a bit, to close their mouths (mine included), to stop calling each other names or claiming that others are not intelligent because they disagree with us, to listen a bit, and to pray – a lot. I wish that our First Amendment rights came with a handbook about how to be nice, how to be in conversation when we disagree, and how hold to our positions without tearing down the bridges between us.
I need this lesson as much as anyone.
Our country may always be divided on issues, but we are still one nation. To the outside world, we must look a little nutty now and then. What an oxymoron our country’s name must be to those who do not understand how we can be the United States of America when we remain divided on every issue facing our country. As the campaigning continues and election time approaches, we can only hope that bridges are built for the good of our entire country.
What unites us is our freedom. May we use it responsibly, with compassion, and in ways that build bridges rather than tear them down.
Note: the bridge pictured in this post is the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.