Roadwork Ahead

Let’s keep this one short. It’s summer, and I’m on vacation. While I’m not really going anywhere, I have been thinking about roads, and, in particular, bridges. I can’t get Road To Nowhere by The Talking Heads out of my head. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel can bring a tear to my eye, and Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers seems like an appropriate song for what can be lonely times of late. Normally this is the time of year when my family hits the roads to visit friends and family. Road trips make me think of the thrill of reading and riding along with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, but Cormac McCarthy’s The Road seems too frightening right now. Oftentimes, when one is on a road trip, one has an idea where one is headed, perhaps even with certain stops planned along the way. The road I feel like I’m on now is the sort that is shrouded in dense fog, the kind where the fog lights only illuminate the few feet ahead. Trying to see further with headlights only makes visibility more opaque, which forces a sudden surge of adrenalin and makes one pump the brakes!

The other day, while looking for something to entertain myself, I watched the movie A Bridge Too Far. (Actually, it took me two nights because I fell asleep the first night.) I was hoping, if only for a few hours, to escape the real world. This word, “bridge,” had implanted itself on my subconscious and had clearly led me to this film title. People – myself included – have been talking a lot about just needing to create a bridge from the current public health crises to a future when an effective treatment or vaccine for Covid-19 is found. It is, we all hope, a temporary situation. Of course it is! People stress that furloughs are temporary and that only short term loans and unemployment insurance are necessary to tide us over until the crisis passes. But now there is another important and long overdue challenge resurfacing – the scourge of systemic racism. This has been a bridge to equality all of us have not yet been able to cross. The bridges being discussed now are the broken ones that fail to connect cities and towns, socioeconomic classes, ideologies, and people. Actual bridges are now being occupied by protesters to highlight just the latest social injustices. So many bridges – literal, metaphorical, and cliché. A bridge loan, a Bridge to the Future, A Bridge to Nowhere, A Bridge to the 21st Century. The Edmund Pettus Bridge

I do think we’re on one side of a bridge, and I do think it will stretch to the other side. But it’s too foggy right now for me to see how long this bridge is or what’s actually on the other side. It’s disorienting. I can’t get a sense of how far we’ve come or how far we’ve got to go, and I can’t tell how far it is below. I do know that we can’t stay where we are, and I really don’t want to go back to where I was. The only hope I have – the only hope we have – is to keep progressing. If the arc of the moral universe is long and if it bends towards justice – and I believe it does – then let that arc be the bridge we take and let’s work so that it is NOT a bridge too far.

Many are speculating on what the fall and winter will be like, what our libraries and schools will be like – what will be our “new normal.” We are now asking what our country and world will be like. I have to say, while I listen to a lot of opinions, I am not putting too much stock in any one forecast. Most oddsmakers hedge their bets and I, for one, will simply do the best I can to be prepared and ready for whatever may come, but I will not attach myself to any one view until the fog lifts and I can see where my next step will land. In the meantime, wearing a mask at a Black Lives Matter march seems like a pretty good road to travel.

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