For the past two months, I have been reminded of the value of bridges in our daily lives. The City of Atlanta closed down my intown neighborhood bridge for repairs that officials claim will take 60 days. Of course, I fully support public safety, but for the past 60 days there have been no workers, no equipment, and no updates, just concrete blockades, detour signs, and traffic. Having vented, let me share some productive insights.
In our geographical reality, Atlanta is void of any major body of water (not intending to offend the ‘Hooch’), therefore we don’t have the awe-inspiring presence of a Golden Gate or a Brooklyn Bridge. Yet, we do have thousands upon thousands of non-descript, unassuming, utilitarian bridges that we cross everyday. Our bridges mostly span creeks and railroads, although our four interstate expressways give us a myriad of bridges that circumvent one another.
In our human reality, Atlanta has an enormous body of spirituality that is best seen and navigated upon the bridge of our most noble citizen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “It really boils down to this: that all life is inter-related. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King further said: ” Let me suggest first, that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; this means we must develop a world perspective.”
Dr. King was and is a bridge to enable us to come out of our narrow confines of insular and exclusive lives. Quite a few of our faith leaders have ventured across that span as individuals, but now is the season to encourage our congregations, associations, and religious traditions to come out of the hierarchies of seclusion and trod the paths of cooperation, collaboration, and interconnectedness. All of our faiths have scriptural bridges that can enable us to cross the divide, even beyond our shared Golden Rules, but we must be bold enough to walk upon them.
Dr. King said: “People derive inspiration from their involvement”. Get involved with ‘the other’ and inspiration will come. We all know we should. And Dr. King also said:”There is nothing more tragic in all of the world than to know right, and not do it.” Let us be bridges across faith, ethnic, and cultural divides, and let us remove the obstructions from the road so others can cross and be inspired as well.
“To each is a goal to which God turns you, so strive together towards all that is good,
wheresoever you are God will bring you together, and God has Power over all things.” Qur’an 2:148
submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin