The Bridge

Tom Wright

There are many places we would like to travel to that often require crossing over a bridge to get there. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, a bridge can allow us to travel over troubled waters. Our Earth is in troubled waters, and if not the earth, then our relationship to it certainly is. And in that relationship, if our part continues with the destruction of our home, we become history. Try attempting to eat a dinner that came from someplace other than Mother Earth, and see how long it takes before you go hungry. The Earth can certainly continue on just fine without us, but we cannot last long without it, regardless of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, or the tribe you happened to be born into. It is from this common sense perspective that we must come from, that is, if as a race, the human one, we desire to continue living here.

So what does taking care of the planet that takes care of us, all of us, have to do with bridges? Everything. That is, when you face the facts. Fact is, modern technological society is here to stay. We are not going to simply erase a few hundred years of work, just because someone doesn’t like technology. Be that as it may, there also exists a few thousand years of Indigenous wisdom connected to respecting the Earth that serves all of us, whose value is enormous, and intimately connected to our survival. As humans being, it is us, who must become bridges between the two points of view, so that the best from each can be accessed for the benefit of all. Our actions necessary for our own survival then, need to become the literal bridge between the two world views. Note the word "between." No one is saying that one end of the bridge has to be sacrificed so that the other may "survive." Quite the contrary. It takes two strong ends to make an effective bridge. Anything else is a catapult! And since we're at one end of the bridge or the other, use your imagination to envision what happens when the tension gets so great that one supporting pier collapses and then both sides snap.

And while these might seem like simplistic metaphors for what's happening in the world, to ignore them is to risk our lives. Without grass, trees, along with clean air and water, all the technology in the world won't save us. And by the same token, there are many aspects of technology that can help us. Two ends of the same bridge: the human one. I have sat in council in the jungles of the Amazon, to the high mountains of the Sierra Madre, and in the desert, often enduring tirade after tirade against the "great eagle" whose wings require clipping. And, I have sat in boardrooms from New York to San Francisco, listening to tirade after tirade against the wisdom of indigenous people who wish to protect our Mother. It seems as if both ends of the bridge seek to invalidate the other end, neither in their childish naiveté' realizing that one cannot exist without the other. Not now, not in these troubled waters times. Try eating without the Earth, try supporting billions of people without modern water purifying technology. In either case, you can imagine the results of not paying attention to what's happening in the world right now.

What is happening in the world right now? Without trying to foretell the future, it's hard not to see right in this moment that we need to mitigate the enormous effect our technological drive for only making money is having in the world. Oil spills, wars, destruction of farmland through over-fertilizing, chemical warfare on plants and bugs, poison in the water, pollution, cancer, fruit and meat with less and less vitamins and protein in them over time as the years and incorrect use of resources continues, the list goes on. And, right now, the enormous need we have for the ancient wisdom of those indigenous people of the Earth, (of which we are as well, but we often refuse to acknowledge our unalterable connection with Mother) and their ability to intuit what this planet needs to stay clean and healthy, so that we can all continue to stay alive here. And though nuts and bolts put together often form amazing machines that can do amazing things, not one of them would be able to operate without a planet to drive around on, one that supports growing food that the operators of those machines need in order to live. And though sacred fire rituals are powerful and needed, without those nuts and bolts the billions of people alive today could not survive either. Facts. Hence, the need to be the bridge; a very human one, from human, to human.

So, in the words of my mentor, Mother Teresa, in answer to the question "what is to be done?" she would have said "do what's in front of you to do." That would mean the first place to look for a sound bridge building game plan, since you are one end of the bridge, is inside of yourself. In the age old path of the shaman, clean your own Universe up first, and then after gaining some ground in that internal struggle, allow the manifestations of your success with yourself to come forth. Manifestations of taking care of "what's in front of you." What's in front of us every day are facts and circumstances that need our attention. What kind of lifestyle do you live that leaves the most loving imprint on Mother Earth possible? Who do you support and encourage in living a loving lifestyle as well? What steps have you taken to insure that your world, whatever world it is you live in, also strives to maintain an ecological consciousness that takes care of our Mother? What board rooms do you sit in, what sacred fires do you sit around, and share with others the need to look out in front of themselves as well, and be the bridge, and so to "take care of what's in front of them?"

Other questions arise in relationship to our "taking care of what's in front of you" habits, and they are many, and the answering of each one with every single individual step we take in our own lives are all important acts. Individually we do make a difference with each choice we make, whether it's to reach out and acknowledge an indigenous population's right to control their environment, or we make choices based on supporting ecologically conscious organizations, companies, and people. It's ironic how so many in industrialized countries, of which I am one, suffer from the unfulfilled need to make a difference in the world, when in any one now moment they can make their own lives and their individual lifestyles count simply by being conscious of who they support, how they speak, and what they do, in every moment, on every day. And then there you have it, a way for any one of us, right now, to do what we all desire to do: to make a difference in the world with our very lives. To make them count! And out of that experience of making a difference come the most valuable gifts of all; satisfaction, fulfillment, and inner peace. Oh, and a planet that is allowed to continue to support our very lives upon it! If every single person in any country on this planet decided to take care of our Mother, and make their actions count in this way, right now, then no path the bridge our lives cross over would be impossible to traverse. Not even one over very troubled waters!

Tom Wright was born a shaman in troubled times, in a ghetto during the sixties. Out of being forged within that crucible and the profound need he saw for unconditional love in the world, he has committed his life to being a bridge between people. His work and books can be found at www.a-course-in-shamanism.com.