A bridge too far

A Jewish friend of mine recently had the displeasure of someone posting on her Facebook wall something about her that wasn’t true.  It wasn’t done maliciously or with evil intent, but it was done with a certain degree of thoughtlessness.  The person who did it wanted to somehow bridge the gap between cultures, to make the things that define us in life disappear into the river of sameness that flows through our world.  The post said that she was a Muslim, and it was done in some inadvertent attempt to say that we’re all Muslims, or we’re all Jews, or we’re all Christians.  Of course, this garnered a massive response from people asking what happened, with questions like: Did you convert? Or will you marry me?
But it made me think about the whole concept of ‘bridging the gap’.  It’s a term we hear endlessly thrown around the world to apply to every situation between every single party in the world who’s ever had a disagreement about anything!  So what does it mean – to bridge to gap? 
I suppose there is the view that somehow by bridging the gaps between societies and cultures, the world will somehow join hands and sing songs of peace and harmony while sitting around bonfires, eating beans.  It’s a nice thought.
But there’s a problem with it.  Because there are cultures and societies and groups in this world who have no intention of bridging any gap.  And any societies they come across would only be consumed, taken over and eliminated.  If you look at the Islamic death cults that currently roam the world such as ISIS or Al Qaeda, what exactly are the gaps that need to be bridged?  
And if you look at the so-called peace process in Israel, the world is somehow demanding that Israel alone must bridge the gap with the Palestinian Authority so that some kind of agreement can take place.  Of course, the Palestinian Authority is not interested in bridging any gap with Israel; instead they are only interested in consuming the entire country, where the values that we, in the western world, have are worthless, and the concepts of freedom of thought and association and beliefs are as foreign as an Israeli tourism office in downtown Tehran.
And yet, the United Nations and the European Union and the United States continue to persist with this notion of bridging the gap between societies.  They hope to somehow eliminate the differences between them – the apparently enlightened societies – and Iran, whose stated goal remains to eliminate the State of Israel.  So while western diplomats eat biscuits, sip tea and talk of hope and harmony and peace, Iranian officials eat Naan Berenji cookies, sip Persian tea, and laugh at the naivety of the western world, while they continue to build their nuclear ambitions at an ever increasing rate.   How exactly do you bridge that gap? 
Yet somehow, in the west, there’s a view that all differences can be resolved through dialogue.  That may be so for a trade dispute between North Dakota and South Dakota, but it certainly doesn’t work with the death cults of intolerance that exist in the Middle East.
You see, I don’t want to bridge the gap between me and the culture of death that lies around me.  I don’t want to bridge the gap between my hopes and their intolerance.  I don’t want to close the gap and bring me closer to those who want me gone.  I don’t want to bridge the gap between my dreams of a future to be built and their nightmares of a world to be destroyed.
And, like the posting on my friend’s wall, I don’t need anyone to tell me what I should feel or what I should think or what I should be.
That’s my right.  It belongs to me.
A right to build any bridge I want.
And despite all of that, there are still bridges that can be built and gaps that can be closed.  Bridges where the lanes carry respect, dignity and value for life, and gaps which fade not through the unnatural forced intervention of others, but through the natural progression of values that are truly shared and truly embraced.