For many years now I have walked through the woods on the cliff along a dirt path to a clearing near the George Washington Bridge where the view turns decidedly urban. To the south is the Manhattan skyline—inviting, intimidating, energizing and enervating all at once. The bridge itself is also impressive. About 500 feet shy of a mile, the double-decker, 14 lane suspension bridge carries over 100 million vehicles a year. From my perch at the west side of the GWB, I can see many of those cars and trucks crossing.
It has long been a silly game of mine to read the signs on the trucks and find a takeaway from the oracle of the GW Bridge. I might get a message right away, or I might have to watch dozens of trucks. Shred It. No. Budweiser: King of Beers. I don’t think so. White Rose: You deserve the best. Yes! More than once, I’ve been captivated by the tagline on a logistics company truck: Kane Is Able.
I saw a Kane truck not long after I read about the suicide of 27-year-old Aaron Hernandez, the once promising pro football player turned convicted murderer. On a larger scale, it made me think of the wars ongoing and those that seem to be looming too close on the horizon, of the immigrants and of all of the displaced and how divided we are in our stances. The erosion of democracy is a real threat in places we never thought it would be. On the heels of the Climate Change march, I think of the ways we have collectively abused and continue to abuse our Mother Earth and how some still don’t believe global warming is real. Civil rights, basic human rights and the sanctity of life all hang in the balance.
It is uniquely human that we have the ability to make choices and to take sides. The danger is in feeling too righteous about the sides we’ve chosen, leaving us stranded on islands without bridges. Each side couches their differences as moral outrage, and I struggle with the idea that the middle ground seems to have gone so far underground as to be nonexistent. We are living in a world of wild extremes. Islands.
The peacemaker George Mitchell said: “There’s no such thing as a conflict that cannot be ended. Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings.” Desmond Tutu said: “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Is Cain able?
There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus. –Thich Nhat Hanh