There lived two farmer brothers side by side. For long, they shared their machinery and traded labour and goods together. There happened a small misunderstanding one day and it unknowingly grew into a major difference. Finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning, a man with a carpenter's toolbox came to the older brother. "I'm looking for a few days' work," he said. “Can you help me?" The carpenter asked. "Yes," said the older brother. "Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbour. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me an eight-foot fence, so I won't need to see his place or his face any more."
The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you." The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence at all! It was a bridge... a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other. A fine piece of work! To his surprise, he saw his neighbour, his younger brother, coming towards them, hands outstretched...
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hands. They turned to see the carpenter taking his toolbox onto his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few more days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on, but I have many more bridges to build," said the carpenter. He moved on.
This story came to my mind when I happened to see an executive one day, who appeared in all the glamour of a typical white collar. His sun glasses were made in USA, his watch was Swiss make, his shoes were German, his car was Japanese, his Jeans looked like imported from Singapore and his face (I could not see clearly) was laminated with cosmetics from Gulf (so I assume). Everybody lives here indebted to many cultures and countries all around. This attitude of acceptance of all should have helped us develop a healthy relationship between countries and cultures. But what we experience in reality are cut-throat competition between manufacturers, fierce wars between countries, fights between colours and mud games between religions. I think what the world most requires today for easy sustenance is carpenters like the one in the story. If each of us would have graciously used all situations to build bridges, there would have been hundreds of invisible bridges around us, making society much more tolerant and peaceful.