Elegant, Robust Unity Jonathan Switzer

Bridges cross divides. The bigger the divide the bigger the bridge. No bridge, no unity. No unity, no commerce, no trade, no cross-pollination. No unity means divisions, distrust, anger and conflicts grow. And in the gaps, loneliness, despair, poverty, anxiety, depression overwhelm our sons and daughters, brother and sisters, friends and neighbors. 


The other side of the tracks has always been alien. The other side of the river, other side of the mountain, the bay, the highway. Languages develop separately across those divides. Different cultures flourish on opposite sides of divides. Cultures make sense internally and yet are confusing even disconcerting to outsiders. Caricatures of the other side of the river develop and take root. Divides grow over time.  


Unity is not simple. Simplistic unity increases distrust and precedes war and division. Feel good unity doesn’t usually last. Unity on this side of complexity is sweet, saccharin and at best worthless, at worst poisonous. It minimizes differences, glosses over disagreements and settles for easy solutions. Unity, however, on the far side of complexity, is elegant, noble, inspiring. This elegant unity understands the depths that divide, translates language, pierces caricatures, celebrates culture, honors distinctions, negotiates expectations, respects boundaries.


Unity requires strong convictions. Shallow convictions create a weak moral backbone. When real danger arrives shallow convictions will falter and fail. Shallow convictions allow oppression and injustice. Shallow convictions create weak, brittle unity. On the other hand, strong convictions provide a strong backbone, which at first, seems to create conflict. Your convictions and mine differ. So, we argue. However, over time, strong convictions unify us to stand against evil. As we stay in communication, we resolve the conflicts. We develop an elegant, robust unity. We work together when needed. We give space when needed. Like a good fire, we are close enough to keep warm and far enough apart to breathe.


Strong convictions require the ability to discuss, which is a lost art. The ability to ask questions, to understand, to listen…these are out dated almost. Instead, caricatures reign. Polarization sets up straw men gleefully knocked down at technological distance (over internet, social media). Because we are too busy to take the time to really talk our relationships go thin and glaze over with insincerity. Our communities grow distrustful and divided. Instead, we should learn to talk, to listen, to understand. We should learn to disagree respectfully.


Our nation, our community has big, growing divides. Those divides reflect strong convictions, not weak ones. We don’t need swinging rope bridges only the brave can cross. We don’t need bridges that will fall under too much strain. We need well built, solid bridges that can be driven across by many people. We need bridges that serve an elegant, robust unity.


Here in Frederick, MD on the east coast of the United States we have significant, deep divides both between religions and among those without religion. If bridges are not developed for crossing those divides, we will remain at a distance. There will be no ability to work together for the sake of our community. Again, joints are needed.


crossedBRIDGES intends to serve those joints. 


A joint is a bridge that ties together parts of the body. The joint creates the place where the body can work together in unity. The hand is still a hand, it is not a foot. Yet the hand and foot can work together when jointed properly together.  The community needs bridges to bring it to unity. It needs joints.  


crossedBRIDGES intends to nourish an elegant unity, a robust unity. The kind of unity that will make Frederick a welcoming community no matter the culture, language, politics, race.


Why? Because the gaps produced by disunity are filled with the lonely needing relationships, the anxious and depressed needing hope, the oppressed needing justice, the divided needing reconciliation and the broken needing healing,