Bridge Building

Are You Ready to Build a Bridge?
Steven J. Callis

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, sometimes called simply the Causeway, is composed of two parallel bridges crossing Lake Pontchartrain in southern Louisiana. The original Causeway was a two-lane span, measuring nearly 24 miles in length. It opened in 1956 at a cost of $30.7 million. A parallel two-lane span opened on May 10, 1969, at a cost of $26 million. It remains the longest continuous bridge over water in the world, according to Guinness Book of World Records.
The purpose of the bridge was not to establish a world record or achieve any level of claim to fame. What the Causeway did accomplish was a shorter route to the New Orleans area for commuters, saving nearly one hour of travel time, compared to the previous route around the body of water.
In 2006 there were an estimated 600,000 roadway bridges in the United States open to the public. This statistic does not take into account other types of bridges, such as railways and walkways.
There is another type of bridge whose origin can be traced back as far at the 5th century B.C. in ancient Greece. We know it today as a handshake. A bridge is defined as a connecting, transitional, or intermediate route between two adjacent places, or something that spans a chasm. Have you ever noticed how the arms of two individuals span the chasm between them when they shake hands?
Last weekend two well-known professional golfers were paired together in the third round of The Players Championship. Having witnessed some tension between the two golfers over recent years, the media really played the hype on this pairing.  As it turned out, there was an incident early in their round that added to the tension of the circumstance, eventually resulting in mutual negative comments to the media later in the day. But it could have been much worse.
Something took place at the close of their round of golf which, in most instances, would seem commonplace in a professional golf tournament. Under these circumstances, however, it was a gentlemanly gesture on the part of each golfer: they built a bridge.
Despite their personal thoughts and feelings towards one another, on the 18th green they removed their hats and shook hands. There were no smiles; they may not even have made eye contact. They did, however, hold true to the tradition of professional golfers, which certainly required some amount of humility.
In a number of other sports, duking it out may have been a logical outcome at the end of the match – or even on the second fairway where the incident took place! Even there on the 18th green, they could have ignored tradition and, thereby, added fuel to the fire. (I have to wonder if that is what the media was hoping would happen!) But they chose to build a bridge. Certainly there is a chasm that exists between the two personalities, but a handshake spanned that chasm for a couple of seconds, somewhat easing the tension, and seemingly wowing the commentators.
Is there is a bridge that you need to build with another individual with whom some slight conflict has developed? Ignoring it will not make it disappear, and could even cause it to grow worse. You can choose to extend the right hand of friendship and span that chasm. The gesture may not resolve the conflict, but it could be the first step to easing tension and restoring communication. I hope you will choose to build a bridge.

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